Athletes who go there describe it in different ways, yet their experiences all share a few hallmark similarities.
Famous F1 driver Ayrton Senna entered the zone while racing in qualifying around the Monaco circuit. Getting faster and faster (and faster) with each lap, he went on to set lap record after lap record. He did this while in a trance-like state. Ayrton described it afterward as ‘almost a religious experience. I looked down and saw myself. I was not driving the car; it was like it was happening automatically.’
The world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, describes it like going on autopilot. Time skips: the race starts, the race ends, and a world record, seemingly, just happens to break. David Beckham reflects on his incredible free-kick scoring ability: how he can place the ball exactly where he imagines. He says he isn’t consciously aware of how he does it.
When an athlete gets in the zone, he or she describes the experience as automatic, or out-of-body. Have you ever noticed a time when you’ve powered through some work in a calm haze, and the results came out great? You were flowing in the zone.