on playing in the Zone
By “zone” here I don’t mean zone D or zone O, but that mentalphysical space you can get to when you are playing, moving as a team with beauty, flow.
If you’ve ever studied the psychology of Flow, you might have heard of the “zone of optimal arousal”. You might remember the upside-down U/bell curve where you move from boredom to flow, from flow to anxiety.
What you might not know is that these curves look different for gross motor movements than they do for fine motor skills. A sports psychologist mentioned this to me the other day, that in diving the “anxiety/flow/arousal” curve is much steeper and “to the left” than it is for a team sport such as perhaps rugby.
What might this mean for Ultimate? Consider the following (hypothetical, unproven) chart:
Perhaps it explains, partially, two phenomena. First, the call to “stay chilly” on O when handlers near the endzone. Second, the so-called conservation of greatness wherein “player who has just made a great play and as a result has possession of the disc is likely to commit a throwing error turnover due to the rush of adrenaline from the great play”.
What does this mean for coaching and for training? I’m not quite sure, but I do believe that understanding and training with “arousal curves” in mind might help make better (Ultimate) athletes of us all.
How so? Perhaps it’s because we think explicitly about threat modulation as we lift or sprint, practice on the field or off, and develop mechanisms and modalities to stay chilly or fire it up on-demand, perhaps even as quickly as you need to execute a chilly low I/O break before busting it out gross-motor style with an upline cut. Which begs the question, do we train and practice this relationship between chilly and hot, tension and relaxation (of a different sort), in the gym? Should we?
I don’t know, I just know that it’s great to watch kids alternate KB swings and sprints on the field, and maybe it’d be even funnier to see ’em throw mini-discs for accuracy alternating with 50 lb. sandbag get-ups, give and go alternating with sandbell/medball throws.
So, are you playing in the zone? …which one(s)?