The coaching course I am enrolled in at Xavier University provided some interesting points from today’s lecture discussing coaching philosophy and athletes that find the zone.

“Mastery of one’s craft and intense concentration are necessary, but they are not sufficient. For if there is one defining characteristic of the zone, a sine qua non, it is that it is effortless and unpredictable, a kind of state of grace. You cannot get into the zone through an act of will; you can only prepare the ground for it to happen. To quote a Zen master, “Enlightenment is an accident, but some activities make you accident prone.”

The zone is not produced by effort, yet without effort nothing happens. So the question becomes, how does one prepare the ground? What kind of effort leads beyond self-conscious effort? The answer is subtle, at least to the ego, whose habit is to go directly after what it wants. That approach might work for a lot of things, but it won’t work in the case of the zone. Readiness for the zone depends on the cultivation of three components: skill, devotion and immersion.”

–Andrew Cooper, In the Zone: The Zen of Sports

So, in reflection of the class and recently reading the article from Cooper  In the Zone: The Zen of Sports  it begs the question, how do you as a coach prepare your student-athletes to reach the mystifying flow state of competition?

This model illustrated in class expanded on the idea of coaches on player development and the equilibrium of task vs. ability pinpointing an opportunity for creating a flow state. Drills and workouts created from coaches emphasize game speed, game spots, and game shots that are designed to emulate game situations allowing the skills developed in practice to transfer unconsciously during competition. The model also indicates that each student-athlete is different in their abilities and mastery of the specific tasks. Coaches have to be cognizant of personal development and individual growth in order to facilitate individual players to reach their full potential at the individual pace.


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