Hitters are always trying to hit the ball off the sweet spot of the bat. The sweet spot is usually defined as about 5-7 inches from the end of the barrel. Hitters know this is where the best contact will occur so they aim for it often. However, there is another sweet spot that many hitters are missing out on and it directly relates to their ability to reach peak performance - the training sweet spot!
Let's take a look at the following image:
The image describes what is known as the "flow state" of training. Flow is simply an optimal state of human experience. As it relates to training, flow is based on the relationship between the difficulty of a task (challenge) and our ability to perform that task (skill).
In previous articles, I have mentioned the necessity to prepare hitters who can perform in games by balancing the training environment. If the training environment is too hard, fear and anxiety take over. If the training environment is too easy, we get bored, comfortable, and we don't get better. The sweet spot of training is right in the middle - between our comfort zone and our survival zone. The sweet spot is where the task is hard enough to stretch our skills, but not make us snap. When we are "flowing" we are living in the sweet spot. Our abilities are stretched to keep us focused and challenged, but not too much where we feel overmatched or desperate.
The place right on the edge of our current ability, where we learn the best and the fastest - The Sweet Spot!
Too easy - boredom. You're working but not challenged. Success is over 80%
Sweet Spot - Flow
Engaged in the challenge. It's difficult and messy. You have to stay focused. Success is around 50%
Overmatched, desperate, guessing, anxious. Success is rare - below 50%.
There are no shortcuts to success. It takes real work, but more importantly it takes the right work. The road to real magic is found within the sweet spot of our training where we are traveling just outside the edge of our current abilities.
Coaches need to train their players in a competitively balanced atmosphere. Players and athletes need to push themselves. We can't be 100% survival or 100% comfortable, we need to find our flow!
Where are you spending most of your time? What type of training environments are you creating?
If you are an athlete who wants to reach peak performance, you have to embrace an environment that properly challenges your current skills - not bathe in your comfort.
Flow - Sweet Spot Example
In its simplest form I will give you an example.
Fans buy a ticket to a sporting event. One team completely dominates the other team in a clear mismatch of skillset and challenge. The experience is not good for the fans because there's clearly no competitive balance among the teams.
Think about the athletes who are competing. There's no competitive balance - no matter how hard the losing team works they don't have a chance to succeed. The failure rate is too high because the challenge exceeds their current ability by too wide of a margin. The less skilled team is stretched too far while the better team is not engaged and even bored with the challenge.
The fans would probably enjoy a game where too easy and too hard meet right in the middle. The athletes would also benefit from this.
If you want to live in your comfort zone - good luck becoming the best you can be. Find your flow - find your sweet spot!
Hope this helps,
See you on the diamond!
Want to know more - check out:
The Rise of Superman The Little Book of Talent
Flow The Talent Code