Zen and the art of Sporting Excellence

Uncategorized / Thursday, February 1st, 2007

Playing a sport, especially soccer, is my favorite pastime and it’s the easiest way to settle into a nice relaxed stress free mood. I can spend hours thinking of, nay daydreaming about the past – a goal scored directly of a corner kick or that perfect through ball or that exquisite trick using a cryuff turn or fantasising about the future – chipping a goalie or executing that perfect counter shot (TT) and so on.

Put quite simply sports is a way of discovering Nirvana (and i have written before about how I experienced something akin to that on my way to the beach for my sunday morning soccer session.)

And thats the main reason why going to the gym never works quite the same magic. I cant think of someone experiencing Nirvana on the benchpress.

But don’t take my word for it. Professionals have explored this phenomenon in greater depth, Andrew Cooper’s words below:

As a culture, we have come to associate epiphanies, revelations, and the like with poetic revelry, profound introspection, or communion with nature. But it is a fact that profound and extraordinary experiences are extremely common in athletics, perhaps more so than in any other field of endeavor. The passions that athletics arouse, the physical demands they make, and the mental focus they require bring to bear our most exceptional abilities.
Despite our skepticism, athletics provoke us to magic.


According to Csikszentmihalyi, theflow experience happens “when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits” in pursuit of a worthwhile goal. What makes that stretching possible is the development of the necessary level of skill. Obviously, as in any field, some are more naturally gifted than others in athletic ability. But regardless of one’s level of innate ability, without the disciplined cultivation of skill, potential will remain unfulfilled.

Read more here

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