[Ads-l] Playerspeak: "in the zone"

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Fri May 6 06:10:26 UTC 2016

Shouldn't checking the OED be the start? ;-)

The entry was drafted in 2002 and thus presumably could be improved upon by now, but OED does have a 1976 example:

1976 San Francisco Chron. 27 Oct. 47/1 Tennis players speak reverently of the mystical atmospheric condition known as ‘The Zone’. Passing shots chip away at the lines, first serves pop in and mistakes simply don't materialize. Arthur Ashe's experience in The Zone during his last Wimbledon championship bordered on the surreal.

Jesse Sheidlower

On Fri, May 06, 2016 at 02:32:38AM -0400, ADSGarson O'Toole wrote:
> Here is a start. Researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihályi has popularized a
> notion of "flow". A Wikipedia article notes: "Achieving flow is often
> colloquially referred to as being in the zone."
> It seems that Csikszentmihályi may not have used the phrase "in the
> zone". He wrote a book in 1975 titled "Beyond Boredom and Anxiety". I
> think he used the term "flow state". But I do not know when he started
> to use that phrase.
> The research of Csikszentmihalyi was mentioned in a 1986 "New York
> Times" article that used the phrase "in the zone" and presented an
> explication. But the article did not attempt explain the origin of the
> "zone" expression.
> Article: 'Zone' Is Winning Territory
> Newspaper: New York Times
> Newspaper Location: New York
> Date: September 5, 1986
> Quote Page D15
> Database: ProQuest
> [Begin excerpt]
> Studies by sports psychologists and close students of tennis are
> taking much of the mystery out of why Ivan Lendl or Boris Becker or
> the world's other great players always seem to win the big points.
> The answer, according to the sports-related research, lies to a large
> extent in the "zone," as the players call it. "Becker's in the zone,"
> they say, or "Becker's zoning it"
> The "zone" they refer to is roughly equivalent to what psychological
> researchers describe as a level of concentration so complete and
> intense that it evokes a state of almost semiconscious euphoria — one
> that many believe bears a resemblance to hypnosis, and enables a top
> player to achieve his or her peak performance.
> [End excerpt]
> Garson
> On Fri, May 6, 2016 at 1:42 AM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:
> > In some issue of Sports Illustrated from the last century, I seem to recall
> > reading something similar to this.
> > When the phrase, "in the zone," was fresh and new, an SI writer asked a
> > basketball(?)-player what the source of the phrase was or what the "zone"
> > was or something like that. The player answered that the inspiration for
> > the phrase was Rod Serling's introductory spiel in which he stated that an
> > episode of his show was something weird and unexplained that took place "in
> > the Twilight Zone." So, when a player's game inexplicably became
> > near-perfect, shots falling into the basket as though the ball had eyes, it
> > seemed as bizarre as though it was happening "in the Twilight Zone," both
> > to the player and to the other players.
> >
> > Anybody else have any facts or opinions on this?
> > --
> > -Wilson
> > -----
> > All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
> > come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> > -Mark Twain
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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