It was my first venture into sports psychology I decided to buy a book called “Competitive Fire” mainly because Michael Jordan was on the front cover. I wanted to know what made the greatest player who ever played the game of basketball tick. At the time I was in my early twenties and searching for an edge to improve my game. This book provided me with instant access into the minds of the best athletes in the world. All the greats had one thing in common despite their diverse backgrounds, sports, and upbringings. In the book it was simply called IPS but it couldn’t have been more complex.
IPS stands for “Ideal Performance State”. One of the exercises the book provided to learn more about this was to close your eyes and imagine the best game you ever had in your life. The game where everything went right. In sports its called “the zone”. It’s almost like an outer body experience where your body is on auto pilot and your mind is so locked into what you’re doing time goes by without you even knowing it.
I had a game where I hit five three pointers in a row and to this day even while watching the tape I cant remember the feeling. I feel like I’m watching someone else because I cant remember anything during that stretch of time. As I read on I learned that the great ones are usually always in this state all the time and that’s one of the major things that separates them from everyone else.
Physically there are players that are faster, stronger, and jump higher than Michael Jordan but there were none that possessed his mental toughness. To get “in the zone” all outside distractions have to disappear. You cant worry about what the fans are saying, that the referee is most likely blind in one eye, or that the person guarding you has just talked about your mother in a not so nice way the last three trips down the floor.
Achieving your IPS is blocking out all of that, and the funny thing is it starts before the game. It starts with being prepared. Having your lucky socks in your bag, packing your sneakers (trust me players forget this), eating the meal you always have before the game etc. Why does all this matter? Because you’re developing a positive mental routine. If those stinky socks that smell like a cat died make you feel good mentally then where them. If eating your pregame meal gives you energy to perform at your best then go eat that bowl of Cheerios or whatever it is.
So do me a favor right now. Think for a couple of minutes and remember one of the best days of your life. How did you feel? What did you do? Who was there with you? Just thinking about that day make you feel better correct? That’s how powerful our minds are. Now ask yourself how can I get that feeling everyday I wake up? Maybe you cant get that feeling because you hate your job, or the best day of your life was when your boyfriend got sick and couldn’t go on vacation with you. Whatever you need to do to tap into your own IPS start making it happen.
Waking up and being in the zone is a great feeling. The day flows and by the time you know it the evening has already arrived. Your not praying for the clock to move faster, or wishing that a zombie apocalypse would happen just so you wouldn’t have to go to work. It’s the exact opposite, you want to stay in the moment and you never want that moment to end.
The great ones can channel this on the field so why couldn’t we channel the same thing off it. You might not be playing for a championship but don’t you want the best day of your life to happen everyday? I will tell you something about your mind without knowing all of you, its stronger than you think. We all have the capacity to be great so don’t settle on just being good.