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Beating the Odds

Daniel Murphy and “The Zone”

With the World Series still days away, Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets has made October history. He has hit a home run in six consecutive post-season games, a record. He’s the main reason why the Mets have reached the Fall Classic for the first time in 15 years.

He’s also treated fans to a look an athlete performing in “the zone.” Merriam-Webster defines zone as “a temporary state of heightened concentration experienced by a performing athlete that enables peak performance.”

We use words like “locked in,” “unconscious,” or just “hot” to describe athletes performing well beyond the norm. Whatever words we use, the athletic zone is like a black hole in outer space. We can’t actually see it. We know it by its effects. And there’s more questions than answers.

Kobe Bryant describes the zone in this video. He emphasizes rhythm, staying in the present and ignoring external factors like the crowd and the score. Time seems to slow down.

Talking about the zone is one thing. Getting there is another. Here’s an article that tries to help.

Neither Murphy nor Mets hitting coach Kevin Long could add much insight.

“I can’t explain why the balls keep going out of the ballpark, but they do,” Murphy said.

Long is just as stumped.

“Murphy is on a different planet right now,” Long said. “He really is. The last at-bat, he’s looking for a changeup, and he hits a 97 mph fastball out. That’s where he’s at right now. It’s mind-boggling. It really is.”

Maybe research will uncover more about getting to the zone. Until then, you must try to put confidence, rhythm and focus together. Maybe you’ll be like Daniel Murphy. Out of this world.

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