- Feature: Burnout Zone
- Article printed in July 13 edition of
Special To Collegiate
LAUREL, Md. — If you’ve
spent even a few years involved in baseball, you have certainly witnessed
Your side is the topflight
club, the defending champs or the division leaders.
The other guys, winless in
their last 10 outings, years since the last playoff run, decimated by
injuries and limping towards the end.
The opposing stands are
virtually empty and the opposing coaching staff is loudly berating their
players, damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
The only break those players
get from the coach’s tirade is when he turns his ranting towards the guys in
Simply put, the challenge is
extremely high for that team, the support extremely low, with the resultant
failure that might have been predicted.
Although that scenario may
seem extreme in circumstance, the outcome can be predicted anytime the
challenge is high and support is low.
It happens between parents
and children, it happens between employers and employees, and it happens in
countless other relations.
The challenge may not even
be known or understood for what it is, and the lack of support may be so
subtle as to escape scrutiny, and the result will always be less than the
success that was possible.
These guys are operating in
the "Burnout Zone".
How about when the challenge
All the support in the world
cannot stimulate growth in these situations.
Recognizing and creating
challenges, even in a blowout game against a non-conference opponent, and
maintaining a learning edge are absolutely imperative for further growth to
occur in otherwise non-challenging situations.
Otherwise, the danger lurks
of falling into the "Rust Zone".
We have all heard references
to The Zone.
The Zone of Optimum
Performance is often mentioned when players are reviewing an extraordinary
outing during the postgame interview.
We have heard pitchers and
hitters speak of a sense of enhanced power, uncommon focus, and increased
possibilities beyond their normal output. As if The Zone were an
other-worldly place they inhabited for a specific point in time.
Hitters see the ball as big
as a grapefruit, pitchers are hitting their spots with pinpoint accuracy.
While dancing in The Zone, a
player reflects on a special appreciation for being part of that game, an
electric sense of being alive and alert, and a vision that their special
radiance has expanded to shine on their teammates to enhance their
performance as well.
These guys are often
pointing to the sky just as they cross home plate or record a backwards K to
end the inning.
Additionally, during this
phase, clarity of purpose, confidence in control and commitment to the task
at hand are all sensed as being in the control and at the command of the
ones in The Zone.
It is common to hear the
player speak of being suspended in time or that time slowed down, recounting
an almost surreal sense of suspended animation and separation from the
normal pace of events.
Operating along the
knife-edge peak of the Optimum Performance Zone requires an awareness of the
slippery slope on either side.
What do we notice when the
performance of our teams, our selves, is going poorly?
When the challenges exceed
skill and/or support, our performances are ineffective.
This is most often
characterized by fear and confusion.
An overwhelming sense of
frustration, worry, and pressing frequently ensues.
Classically, the term
choking seems to sum it up.
These traits are all too
apparent when we are getting blown out, facing an overpowering pitcher, or
our guy is struggling on the bump, our defense is dropping too many and
throwing the rest away, our curve ain’t breakin’ and it’s 0 & 2 on just
about every one of our hitters.
This is the avalanche slide
into the Burnout Zone.
An equally treacherous drop
awaits us on the other side of the slope.
When our skills exceed our
challenges, the opposing pitcher is walking everyone, we’re up by 10,
there’s no sense of competition for starting roles on our own club or
mastery in the division; these instances may lead to boredom, impatience,
irritability and frustration.
This is the low energy place
called the Rust Zone.
However, very close to the
edge of the Burnout Zone we are challenged and excited.
This where we stretch to
learn and grow. Near to the edge of the Rust Zone the boredom increases and
we start to feel under utilized.
The challenge for coaches –
getting back to The Zone of Optimum Performance and sustaining that stance.
The complete story
of dealing with the "Burnout Zone" is in the July 13, 2012 edition of
- By DOUGLAS DREWYER
Call our subscription department at (520) 623-4530 weekdays from 8
a.m.-4 p.m. Mountain Time. A copy of this issue is
available for $3 while a year’s subscription (14 issues) is $28.