One of the more enjoyable aspects to publishing a book on peak performance is the fact that you get to share insights with other experts in the field. This month a couple of podcasts have come out featuring my discussions with performance coaches Tom Foxley (of the Alpha Movement podcast) and Martin Soorjoo, who runs the Inside Mastery podcast on his excellent Outperform website.
You can hear my interview with Tom on the YouTube link below, while Martin's podcasts are available at the following links... Outperform, Martin's website, ITunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, TopPodcast and PlayerFM.
We're thrilled to announce that In The Zone has been included in Amazon Kindle's Monthly Deals for September. Now's your chance to read the thoughts of 100 sporting superstars on how they live their dreams and peak for their big moments - including Bolt, Phelps, Djokovic, Hamilton, Comaneci, Desailly, Ennis-Hill, McCaw, Hoy, Moses, Hagler, Klammer and Freeman - all for £1.19!
This fantastic news follows last month's interview with the wonderful Chris Evans on the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show which remains available on iPlayer for the next few days...
London's Evening Standard newspaper last week featured an interview I did with the rising star of global athletics, Wayde van Niekerk. The South African runner delivered the standout performance of the 2016 Rio Olympics by setting a new 400m world record of 43.03s. Yet he has maintained the rare ability to combine blistering self-confidence on the track with humility off it.
“It’s a humbling feeling to break the record," says van Niekerk. "But, at the same time, it feels like a stepping stone to so much more. As an athlete at the age of 25 there is more I want to achieve and there is so much more motivation and hunger to keep on performing well.”
Now, as Usain Bolt exits stage left, van Niekerk has the chance to fill the void as the great hope for the sport - starting with a potential 200m/400m double at this week's World Athletics Championships in London.
Click here to read the full version of my Evening Standard feature on Wayde van Niekerk...
Thank you to the Red Bulletin for running a ten-page feature in their August edition (above) with quotes from many of the sporting superstars who I interviewed for In The Zone. You can read all about it in their UK, Switzerland and Mexico editions. You can also read the online version here...
Elsewhere Runner's World kindly made In The Zone their Book of the Month for August. The book also received a mention in August's F1 Racing while Autocar ran a British Grand Prix preview feature (below) on the racing mind based on my interviews with Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen and more. It can now be f0und online here...
I'm extremely grateful to all the media outlets who have given space to helped publicise the book and its message.
When a sports star is ‘in the zone’ we all know it. Whatever they touch turns to gold and any unlucky opponents are dazzled by a spell of pure sporting alchemy that leads to anything from a cricket century to a perfect 147 in snooker.
We can all see the results, but the view we get is nothing compared to what this feels like from the inside. When all those long years of training come flooding back out so perfectly, it can seem effortless – the most natural thing in the world.
Strange things start happening in the mind too. Time appears to slow down and space can even bend: tennis rackets and racing cars become mere extensions of the body. Sometimes the sensation is so extreme it feels like you’re not even doing it at all.
Ayrton Senna reported an apparent out-of-body experience as he went into overdrive during F1 qualifying at Monaco in 1988 – and it was the same for Novak Djokovic as he beat Andy Murray in the 2016 French Open final to complete his career Grand Slam.
“I don’t even remember what happened in the last point,” Djokovic said afterwards. “It’s like my spirit left my body and I was just observing it fight the last exchanges, hoping Andy would make a mistake, which is what happened. I’ve felt this autopilot very few times in my career, but it lasted longer in the 2012 Australian Open final with Rafael Nadal when we played for almost six hours.”
It was a week after the longest Grand Slam final in history (pictured above) that I first grabbed my chance to quiz Djokovic during my research for In The Zone. I wanted to hear how he conjured up the sleight of mind to recover the zone when things were slipping away at a break down in the final set in Melbourne...
“To be honest with you there are no tricks, there is just belief,” Djokovic told me. “Just believe and you find the mental push you need. In the fifth set of the Australian Open final there is no more thinking and no more physical strength you can rely on. It’s just about will to win; that power guides you to the end.”
Djokovic spent years as the unlucky No.3 behind Nadal and Roger Federer – yet he insists his leap to the top was prepared not in his biceps but his brain: “It seems a small step from semi-finals to winning but it’s huge,” he said. “Then suddenly, bang! In 2011 I started winning. It was a matter of believing I can win against the biggest rivals in the latter stages of the majors. That makes the difference in winning the match.”
Five years of domination – and one tough year – later, Djokovic has now discovered the doubts don’t stop at the top. Having failed to defend his French Open in June, he is back without a Grand Slam title yet again. But Federer’s nostalgic Melbourne win and Nadal's Paris triumph prove this belief can be as permanent as class.
Now, somehow, the Big Four are back as the top four seeds for Wimbledon. And, despite his win last week at Eastbourne, it could be argued that a Djokovic win would be the most surprising of all. The bookies agree, placing him at 6-1, behind Federer (2-1), Murray (7-2) and Nadal (4-1). We know the Serbian can find the heaven of the zone again, the big question is simply: How bad does he want it?
Adapted from this article for Tennis Head magazine...
“Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!”
These words – Maori for “It is death! It is death! It is life! It is life!” – begin the most traditional version of the haka, the daunting pre-match challenge laid down by New Zealand’s All Blacks. They have the power to reduce your average 18-stone mountain of muscle to jelly.
Next up come the British and Irish Lions, who’d better grasp the true meaning of ‘strong and stable’ from the very start of the second Test. To face 15 large men puffing out their chests, slapping their thighs, stamping their feet, sticking out their tongues and shouting at you is hardly ideal preparation to get in the Zone – unless, that is, you’re one of them.
“It’s a pretty powerful way to start work,” says long-serving All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick in an interview for In The Zone. “But it’s not for the impact it has on opponents. Sure, it’s about throwing down a challenge to you, but it’s more about us coming together. It’s the power and unity it generates, for our country, friends, family and the players who have been before us. The haka is about us feeling good.”
No wonder the All Blacks are the greatest team in rugby union history. Yes, it is their national sport, but the impact of this public declaration of collective force is immense. It’s similar to Muhammad Ali’s “I am the Greatest” mantra – which he recited before he beat Sonny Liston and knew it to be true – or Michael Johnson’s gold shoes, worn before he’d won any individual Olympic medal. Say anything loud and proud enough and the result is an uncanny increase in its likelihood of becoming reality.
Read In The Zone for a full investigation into the power of the haka with contributions from current All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen and record-breaking captain Richie McCaw.
Find out more in my article from the London Evening Standard earlier this month...
Thanks to everyone who has published extracts and quotes from In The Zone in print and online. Here are a couple more links to articles where you can find the wisdom of some of the sporting greats featured in the book.
Forever Sports magazine features quotes from Michael Phelps, Novak Djokovic, Steve Waugh and Daley Thompson
Motorsport.com includes some of the exclusive interview with the late Dan Wheldon about his famous victory at the 2011 Indianapolis 500
Keep an eye out for plenty more press features on their way over the course of this busy summer of sport...
It was a pleasure to chat to sports book expert Matt Williams, who also appears every night on BBC Radio 2's Drivetime show alongside Simon Mayo. In this Sports Book Podcast we touched on Ayrton Senna, Felix Baumgartner, Edwin Moses, Ben Ainslie, Walter Röhrl, cavemen (!), Zen archery and more... Listen in at any of the links below:
It's been a busy first week of activity since the launch of In The Zone. Click below for links to some of the stories in the media so far...
You have to see it to achieve it: how to visualise success like the world's greatest sportsmen
Telegraph Men, April 24, 2017
The Power of the Mind
McLaren Formula 1 team website - April 21, 2017
Clyde Brolin finds out what gets Ben Ainslie 'In The Zone'
SailRacing magazine - April 17, 2017
Why belief is the missing ingredient for Novak Djokovic
TennisHead magazine - May edition
I've also been stepping outside my own comfort zone of writing and out into the airwaves here:
Talk Radio Motor Show podcast with Andy Jaye (starts at 57.00)
BBC Radio 2 interview with Matt Williams on Simon Mayo's Drivetime (starts at 1.46.41)
Clyde Brolin spent over a decade working in F1 before moving on to the wider world of sport - all in a bid to discover the untapped power of the human mind.