August/September 2021 - 14

Mental Training
In the Zone
Achieving Level II in Athletics
By Dr. Richard Fowler
Professor of Psychology, Truett McConnell University
E
..ven though most athletes
..would tell the coach that
..they want to perform at their
ultimate level of play, the reality
is many settle for what would be
called a Level I performance. Both
the coach and player are unaware
that they are not reaching their full
potential. Level I performance can
be described as an athlete who is
faithful in practice, carefully studies
game film at team meetings, and
endorses the system outlined by his/
her coach.
On the surface, it would seem that
this level of performance is all that
can be asked of an athlete. However,
there is an exceptional type of
performance I call Level II. To reach
Level II performance, a player needs
to additionally learn how to utilize and
activate internal momentum - the
momentum needed to play in the
zone. Many athletes too easily equate
confidence with the highest level of
play when in fact they are not actually
mentally prepared, and when a
wrinkle emerges in their performance,
their confidence is shattered.
QUESTION 1: HOW IS THE
CONCEPT OF MOMENTUM
DEFINED?
The word " momentum " is a
physics term first coined by Sir
Isaac Newton, which is defined as
" a body in motion stays in motion,
and a body at rest stays at rest. " In
athletics, there are players that seem
to be stuck in the mire, game after
game, never able to achieve velocity
(gaining speed in a given direction).
To them, achieving momentum is
a form of luck. It is not something
that can be planned for, rather it is
like drawing four Kings in cards - a
rarity and, most likely, a situation
that can't be duplicated.
QUESTION 2: WHAT ARE
THE BIOLOGICAL AND
PSYCHOLOGICAL DIMENSIONS
OF MOMENTUM?
From a physiological perspective,
there are two paths that can activate
athletic momentum. When the mind
perceives a threat, the body goes
14 | Training & Conditioning | August/September 2021

August/September 2021

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https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/Training-and-Conditioning/october-november-2023
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/Training-and-Conditioning/august-september
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