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Schultz: Something relevant about being in 'the zone'

Chris Schultz
9/10/2012 2:39:01 PM
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I am not a believer in rotating players. I do understand why teams use many players in various situations, but as a former player I feel it hurts performance as opposed to enhancing ability.

There is something very relevant and real about being in "the zone" when you're in a game and in some cases even in practice. Being in "the zone" to me is a state of mental and emotional concentration where all you're aware of is what is going on in the game; what is going on with you and no one else. It is as if the crowd in the stands, the atmosphere around the stadium and everything on the periphery has been deleted and does not exist. And it is a wonderful feeling. It is a sense of concentration that is unique and because of that concentration, your personal efficiency and effectiveness is at its best.

I see teams in the CFL rotate players and I do not understand why. Players battle themselves to be aware of "the zone," fight to get into "the Zone" and try to stay in it for the entire game. Outside of warming up your body, the purpose of the warm-up before the game is to give the player the opportunity to find his "head space." A chance to find that intense but controlled feeling of confidence and concentration where all that occupies your mind is the game. It is difficult to describe, but anyone in athletics that had played at a high level knows the feeling and tries to achieve it.

When Jon Cornish ran for 185 yards against Edmonton, he had it - you could see it. Everything came together - his vision, his movement, power, speed and most important, clarity. He just knew he was on top of his game and a big reason was he was not taken out of the game.

Football is a funny game because it is not natural. For most players, not all but most, they have to change their personality to active themselves to play well. I know I had too, which is why rotating players is not the best to do as it disrupts the players ability to achieve the right mental and emotional mind set to play their best. It's like you start a car, being to accelerate and then as it is about to shift its final and best gear, you turn it off. Now, I do realize that players get winded, get dinged and sure, if you recognize a problem or difficulty then you need to get that situation made right and a new fresh body would be perfect. But, I wonder sometimes if coaches understand the game from the player mental makeup; especially coaches who have never played.

Football is a game of many things but at its most fundamental level it is about imposing your will on another. You are trying to do something and another does not want you to do what you want to do. At certain moments it is very Neanderthal while other moments it is very cerebral, and to recognize those moments takes experience.

My 12 starters on a team may not be my 12 best players. My 12 starters are my 12 who can activate the mental and emotional mind to be there best and then they get all the plays. I have known many guys who off the field are normal nice people but on the field almost a complete opposite. And it is because once they are on the field they do not come off. The best players are not always the best players; they are the best because they can achieve intensity, will and self-control for an entire game.

Lions' Adam Bighill, Eskimos' J.C Sherritt, Alouettes' Kyries Hebert and Anthony Calvillo, and many others come to mind of players who achieve the personal zone to perform. And it is why you never take them off the field unless you have to.

Chris Schultz

Chris Schultz

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