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Tuesday, November 27, 2012
IN THE ZONE
Have you ever been in “The Zone,” that place where whatever you are doing that you usually struggle you suddenly excel?
I used to play pick-up street basketball. I was not very good, probably below average. I could dribble ok and make a layup, but anything past 10 feet and I could barely hit the backboard. Every once in a while I would find myself in "The Zone."
Point your elbow at the hoop, feel the wrist snap and the ball just fly off the finger tips and swish! I found the touch. I would not miss anything. Near…far…turn-around…anything…swish! I found the secret to shooting baskets!
Then as soon as it came, it was lost. I would be out of “The Zone” and throwing up bricks.
I threw the discus in High School. I threw it 125’ to 130’ which was good enough for third and sometimes second at most track meets. One day at practice in the last week of my junior season I found “The Zone.” My spin and hop was right on, my foot plant was perfect and my arm and the disc exploded. Suddenly, out of nowhere I was flinging that disc 140’ to 155’. The last meet of the season I threw 150’ good for only third in that meet because the two best discus throwers in the state were on the other team. Still my throw of 150’ was the third best in school history.
The following spring, my senior year, I never found “The Zone” again. My best throw all year was 132’.
I was a pretty good golfer in my youth, playing to around a 14 handicap (score of 88-92). One day I found myself in “The Zone.” If I pulled the ball it sliced back to the middle. If I pushed the ball it hooked back to the middle. Everything I hit was clean and accurate. I made every putt from 6’ in and chipped off the green to within 3 feet of the hole virtually every time. In “The Zone,” I shot a 78. I thought I had the game figured out and I would soon be a scratch golfer. It was not to be…”The Zone” is a fickle venue.
I currently bowl in a men’s league once a week. I am about average for the league generally scoring between 165 and 180. Three years ago I found "The Zone."
I set my timing to the tune of the Rascals' “Feelin Groovy,” head down eye on my mark, rolling the ball just right off my fingertips I could “feel” the ball where ever I wanted it to go. That night I bowled a 709 series for an average of 236! The next week I bowled a 712 series for a two week average of 237! I was in the zone and had the game totally figured out.
In the last three years I have never bowled a series over 611. “The Zone” is a fickle venue.
From the stories my father told me, my grandfather had this zone thing figured out. My grandfather was an average golfer and bowler. One golfing day he started off the first tee with a great drive, a perfect 4 iron and a ten foot putt for a birdie. The next hole was more of the same and he scored a par. On the third hole, clearly he was in The Zone; he hit the green on a par three with a three wood (called a spoon in those days) and knocked in a 30 foot putt for another birdie. Grandpa, knowing The Zone was a temporary location for ordinary humans excused himself from his foursome claiming he had forgotten an appointment and left the course before he lost The Zone. He never played golf again.
Years later my grandfather, an average bowler was trying to kill time waiting for a train while on a business trip. There was a bowling alley under the station so he decided to bowl a few lines.
The first game Grandpa started off with six strikes. As an aside my father explained that in those days the pin setters who relied on tips often had a knack of kicking down the notoriously stubborn ten pin with a toe or thrown pin while they scurried out of the way. They figured that the higher the score the bigger the tip. Regardless, six strikes in a row was no easy feat. As Grandpa was closing in on a perfect game he began to attract a crowd. He missed a strike in the ninth frame and finished with a 279 score…one pin away from a perfect game. The crowd applauded and waited to watch his next game. Grandpa knew the zone was fickle. He packed up and left saying he had a train to catch. He waited quietly for three hours for that train, but he never left "The Zone."
Have you ever been in “The Zone?” Did you stick around too long?