It’s the final of the World Snooker Championship, at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre. Ronnie O’Sullivan has taken command of his match against final debutant, Alistair Carter.
But Ronnie seems frustrated. Slightly ill at ease. It’s as if he is desperate to play the flowing, magical snooker that put paid to Stephen Hendry’s title challenge. But somehow, he can’t quite seem to attract the snooker gods to the table.
In his Hendry semi-final, O’Sullivan clearly had moments when he was in the zone. When, everything he did, was perfection. Effortless. At one with the game. It’s the state of sporting nirvana, that all players seek. But few attain. And even fewer know how they have done it.
You cannot demand a zone-like experience. It comes upon you, when certain things are in place. It’s interesting that a number of sports professionals are now developing an interest in the science of Buddhism. For in Buddhism, there exists a philosophy that can help attract zone-like experiences.
Such as being fully present in the moment; an inner quiet; an acceptance of your mistakes. Once you have experienced being in the zone, then you want to experience the exalted state, again and again.
Unfortunately, the more you want it, demand it, the less likely it is to happen. For demand leads to frustration. And negates the inner quiet, which is the foundation stone for being in the zone.
Ronnie O’Sullivan will never be able to recreate his Stephen Hendry masterclass. For that was a unique moment in time. Better to take a step back, accept where you are, and enjoy the moment.
It may not lead to another zone-like display. But, without acceptance and understanding of how things are, there is no chance of being in the zone.
Note: The problem for Ronnie O’Sullivan in this final, perhaps stems from the fact that he knows that he can beat Alistair Carter. This is not to diminish Carter’s achievement in reaching the final. But O’Sullivan knows that he has the game to beat any player in the world. Especially a world final debutant.
Therefore he may not feel sufficiently challenged. The zone state, often happens, when a player is totally focused on the task in hand. A focus governed by the level of challenge they face Thus, the greater the challenge and difficulty, the greater the focus.