Monday, January 17, 2011

Green Bay Packer Aaron Rodgers Thinks He Is In The Zone

"This probably was my best performance -- the stage we were on, the importance of this game.  It was a good night."
"I just got into a rhythm, not only throwing the football but moving around in the pocket.  This was probably my best performance. I think the stage that we were on, the importance of the game, so yeah, it was a good night."
"It was one of those nights.  I felt like I was in the zone."
--Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers' quarterback, who lead the team to an upset of the NFC's #1-seeded football team. 

In the Packers' 48-21 blowout of the Atlanta Falcons, he completed 31 of 36 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns. His quarterback rating was 136.8. His 86.1 completion percentage was the fifth best in NFL playoff history.

During the game which put the Packers in the NFC Championship Game and one win away from an appearance in the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl wide receiver Greg Jennings said Rodgers shot him a nasty glare after Jennings slipped on a route when the score was 42-21. The message, as Jennings explained later, was clear: The Packers aren't about to let up at this time of the year. 

"He was pretty perturbed, but that's his mindset right now," Jennings said. "It's scary when you have a guy who's approaching things like that."

"It's a physical and mental phenomenon. A chemical cocktail floods through your body as glycogen, adrenaline and endorphins. And it's a feeling of a purposeful calm. When you have this feeling, you feel that nothing can go wrong. You feel in control. And you are completely immersed in the moment."

Jim Fannin, sports psychologist.  

The body reacts to stress by rushing blood to the brain, giving the individual a heightened sense of clarity. The blood also goes to the large muscles to improve quickness, strength and agility. Rational thought takes a backseat to the subconscious and intuition often takes over.

"I've coached singular athletes like golfers and tennis players who can get in that mind-set but when you're on a team, with many people in that mental and physical state, it's contagious. If you notice, most of the athletes that struggle with retirement are the ones that have not only had personal success, but they've also had team success," says Fannin.

"You're in a foxhole, you're in a zone state with somebody. You're still friends with that guy, if you both survived the thing, 50 years later. You have a common bond that you shared that you just can't replicate. And words can't decribe what you experienced. That's a mental dance that hard to replicate in business. It can be done in relationships. But those things take time."

"No one has been able to define what it means, but everyone knows it exists. It's when everything - the physical, the mental, and the emotional - comes together. Everything seems to click."

-- Walt Thompson, professor of kinesiology and health at Georgia State University.

Athletes refer to the state of being in the zone when everything comes together, when one does great things, and when mind and body are able to stretch to the limit to accomplish greatness. This state involves total immersion and focus, such that distractions and "noise" are absent. Often, at times of peak performance, athletes find themselves "in the zone." For basketball players the basket seems bigger and wider. They can't miss. For baseball players, they report being able to see the baseball bigger, more clearly and in great detail. Football players describe a feeling of being invincible with the ability to run all day through their opponents without being touched. In the zone, your confidence is high, worry is non-existent.

Mental conditioning helps athletes to improve confidence, increase focus, prevent distractions and manage emotions in order to get in the zone.  To get more information about mental conditioning, check out The Handbook of Peak Performance.  

Excerpts from (January 17, 2011).
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