chapter  4
22 Pages

Hitting the zone

Whether we’re novices or world champions, we are all inclined to feel butterflies in our stomachs when we cross the line to play competitive sport. First and foremost, those nerves or butterflies reveal that competition really matters to you, and it has to matter – otherwise why take part in the first place? This feeling is nothing to worry about, though – it’s entirely natural. In fact, if you didn’t experience that sensation, it could be even more worrying because it may suggest that you don’t really care. Indeed, many athletes use the term ‘flat’ to describe this experience of feeling sluggish or lethargic in situations where they would prefer to be more ‘psyched up’. For example, when golfer Graeme McDowell (Europe), a US Open champion, played Hunter Mahan (USA) in the crucial final singles match of the 2010 Ryder Cup, he felt strangely

‘flat for 12, 13 holes. Then it became very obvious that the match was going to count.’1