By Michael Lardon, M.D.

So much has been written about Athletic Peak Performance – being in the zone or being in “flow states.”

What is the “ZONE”

It is a state of mind where athletes perform at their highest level. Time may slow down. A 90 mph fastball may come in slow motion, a phenomenon that baseball great Ted Williams would often cite. A golfer may have a premonition that he or she will make their chip shot. A basketball player may have a sense that there are players on either side of him, although this may be outside his peripheral vision.

The “ZONE” is a special place

It is a place in us where our mind is free from anxiety, free from distracting thoughts, free from our own doubt and self-imposed limitations.

The zone of peak performance
Graph by Dr. Bruce Figuered

The “ZONE” is a place where confidence soars. If we are lucky enough to fall into the “ZONE” during sports, we often quickly snap out of it by not so much the realization but the evaluation of our performance.

The “ZONE” is not a place one can control. It is a state of mind, a state of being, that we can facilitate. It has many similarities to meditation and hypnotic states.

In 1993, during my psychobiology fellowship at UCSD, we performed studies on some of the world’s greatest athletes. We looked at brain waves, hypnosis, and many other neuropsychological variables. Through these studies and many other scholarly studies, we have gained an understanding of this unique phenomenon. We cannot switch an athlete into the “ZONE”, but we can certainly help facilitate the chances of an athlete finding his or her into athletic peak performance.