Focus. Concentration. Performance.

Playing In The Zone

"Play has a special relation to what is serious. More important, play itself has its own, even sacred, seriousness."

-Gadamer, Truth and Method

A trance-like serenity overtakes the players, suffusing them with a sense of complete belonging to the primary process of the game, and instilling within them an almost unconscious belief in what is now their own utter indomitability. This manifests itself through an almost casual disregard for the challenges of the ongoing competition. They have assumed complete dominion over the field of play, and are themselves astounded by the skills they are suddenly displaying. They have become the human constituents of the play of perfection.

Victories are for record books, but being in "the zone" is about a fundamental evolution in the nature of the player. It's better than just winning; ineffably beyond victory. A player in a state of grace seems guided by divine providence - it is a profound, joyous celebration of the most exquisite possibilities of play. The players have become an expression of supremely elegant, creative triumph. They see not only how straightforward total skill can be, but how glorious is the moment that allows for it. They embody not only triumph, but also beauty. The coming into being of such a moment is entirely within their grasp; it shines forth directly through them.

Inexplicably, you find yourself able to do things that you had previously considered impossible. Suddenly, it has become all so simple. Time slows down. By your own standards, you are playing flawlessly; exhibiting a perfection in your play that actually calls into question your own previous understanding of how well you are capable of performing, what you thought you knew were the limits of your abilities, and exactly who you know yourself to be as a player.

Whether you are an Olympic, professional, collegiate, or high school athlete, this radical transcendence of your previously known abilities known as being in "the zone" unfolds experientially through an eight-stage sequence that is akin to both Csikszentmihalyi's "flow" and a Maslowan peak experience, but which exceeds both in its entirety.

- Robert Schlaudecker, Ph.D.

"The healthy person is one who not only plays,
but takes play seriously."

-Carl Menninger, MD

"I felt a strange calmness. A kind of euphoria. I felt I could run all day without tiring, that I could dribble through any of them or all of them - that I could almost pass through them physically...I felt I could not be hurt. It was a very strange feeling, and one that I had not felt before. Perhaps it was merely coincidence, but I had felt confident many times without that strange feeling of invincibility."

Pele, My Life and the Beautiful Game

"Thus I, who in so far as I am my possibles, am what I am not and am not what I am - behold now I am somebody!"

Sartre, Being and Nothingness