“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.