In the Zone by Clyde Brolin
Clyde Brolin’s book, In the Zone, is a must-read for all parents and teachers.
The book discusses how champions the mental traits that make champions, sharing insights into the thinking and preparation it takes to achieve in the competitive world of professional sport.
Brolin book is broken down into three mains sections, which share the attributes that lead to peak performance. I will share quotations from the text that resonates with the educational environment.
The first section, CONCEIVE, discusses the power of visualisation, and the power of visualisation in sport. The second part, BELIEVE, focuses on four areas, courage, risk, confidence and attitude. The final section, ACHIEVE, shares ideas on focus, resilience, teamwork and passion.
“Your imagination is your brain’s SATNAV, and it can drive your dreams and goals. What you can ‘see’ you can ‘be.'” The author uses a number of examples demonstrating the power of visualisation.
Courage, the following sporting greats are but a few of the examples of courage – Steve Waugh, Marvin Hagler and Felix Baumgartner.
Courage can be defined as the ability to disregard fear, or to quote the text, “the process is the sources of unerring self-belief needed to be extraordinary…No matter which field we choose, the inner belief required to create history is instead born of years of homework.”
Risk, here the author use among others the examples of Jamie Bestwick, Daley Thompson and Greg Rutherford.
Risk is defined as a chance or possibility of danger, loss, injury, or other adverse consequences (failure). Robbie Madison states the following with regards risk, “Every time I fail it’s important to stop, understand why I got injured and what you can do about it the next time.”
Confidence is a critical component of success. Brodin discusses some athletes, including Novak Djokovic, Jody Scheckter and Sergey Bubka.
The following quotations highlight the importance of confidence to create competitive advantage.
“…and now here I am. So I think everything is possible. I would hope that every kid around the world will dare to dream, that they will use sport as the right example and the guiding star for the path they choose.”
“Champions are not born free of worries and inadequacies that plague the rest of us. The only difference is they find a way to block them when it really matters.”
Chris Hoy is quoted saying, “…What I learned over the years was that if you work at something, if you are committed and you focus on one thing at the expense of everything else you can surprise yourself with how far you can go. Everyone can surprise themselves with what they are capable of doing.”
The final element is the BELIEVE section is that of attitude, which can be defined as a settled opinion or way of thinking. Cathy Freeman, Muhammad Ali and Mark Spitz are some of the example used to discuss attitude. Brolin writes the following, “It’s simple: say something loud enough, proud enough and often enough and it becomes accepted truth, no matter how false it may be.”
The final section of the book focusses on ACHIEVE, comprising four parts. The first of these is focus, which is defined as the centre of interest or activity (the focus of attention). Three sections of text stood out for me as an educator.
“…when the brain is entirely engaged in what it is doing, our inner centric has no option but to shut up.”
“Mindfulness aims to bring our attention back to the present moment no matter where you are.”
“Whatever the challenge we face in sport or life the ability to concentrate – longer, harder, deeper – is the way to better performance.”
The second area is that of resilience, which is the ability to bounce back or rebound. He speaks about “to be a good champion, sometimes you need to experience the lows in order to get the highs” and that “negative thoughts tend to be stronger than positives so the more you let them roam freely in your mind, the stronger they become.” Finally the most powerful for our students, “you perform how you think you will perform.” An example used in the book is that of Derek Redmond, please watch the video!
The third facet of ACHIEVE is that of teamwork, the combined action of a group. Examples of the New Zealand Rugby team and the European Ryder Cup side are used to highlight the power within a united group of individuals. “To live with one another, we have to trust, live in total respect and harmony and start it together.”
The final section of ACHIEVE focusses on passion, which can be viewed as an intense enthusiasm or zeal for a pursuit. The following quotes from the text highlight the need to passion.
“It is apt that the word “passion” derives from the Latin word for suffering. It’s not just the physical pain but the sacrifices and dedication required to push any limits.”
“The quest is to challenge young people to follow their dreams.”
“…As we develop our own passion for certain fields we ‘achieve’ simply by keeping them up and revealing in the pure process of doing what we love.” A wonderful write-up and interview is recorded with Edwin Moses is this section, which would be genuinely motivational for school children.