Continued from: Enter 'The Zone' Utilizing Peripheral Vision - Part I of II

Right now you should be asking “how do I get ‘In The Zone?”
The answer: e x p a n d your awareness of your field of peripheral vision.
Begin this p r o c e s s by taking a basketball out on a basketball court. Stand on one free throw line looking directly at the basketball rim at the other end of the court. This is your ‘line of sight.’ Without taking your eyes off that basketball hoop (you may blink) what can you actually see that is outside your ‘line of sight?’ Become aware of everything; bleachers, walls, floor, lights, scoreboard, your basketball coach, lines on the court, etc. Keeping your eyes on that basketball hoop slowly dribble towards it staying keenly aware of everything in the gymnasium that is within your peripheral vision, especially everything within the confines of the basketball court.

While dribbling and walking what’s your perception of what you’re seeing? Does it appear as though the basketball hoop is slowly growing larger and the lines on the court are moving to meet you then disappearing beneath your basketball shoes? (Hint: if your own face is blocking out your basketball shoes from your peripheral vision, lower your forehead forward a little until your basketball shoes enter your peripheral vision and do not lower your forehead any further than that.) You should be moving forward very slowly taking notice of everything within your field of peripheral vision, while maintaining your original ‘line of sight.’

Upon reaching the free throw line of the basket you’ve been focusing on, slowly turn around until your line of vision is the basketball rim back at the other end. Looking directly at that basketball hoop and without taking your eyes off of it, this is now your new ‘line of sight,’ begin slowly dribbling towards it all the while being keenly aware of everything within your field of peripheral vision until you reach the foul line. What’s your perception of what you’re seeing? Is the basketball hoop slowly growing larger, are the lines on the court moving to meet you then disappearing beneath your basketball shoes and then behind you out of sight? (There are two ways for your mind to perceive what you are seeing. One perception is that you are moving and everything you see is stationary. The other perception is that even though your feet are moving, you appear to be stationary and everything you see is moving toward you; kind of like you’re playing a video game while walking on a treadmill.) You want to develop the perception that you are stationary and everything is moving toward and past you.

This is your first basketball peripheral vision training exercise and is designed to make your mind aware of the vast amount of information your eyes are providing your brain. This is critical information for a basketball player. Information you have been ignoring. Information that is extremely valuable to you during a basketball game. Do this exercise a minimum of 15 minutes per day for at least 7 consecutive days, all the while becoming more and more aware of how clearly you can actually see objects within your peripheral vision. Those of you interested in speeding up the process of developing your peripheral vision can do this basketball training exercise all throughout your day in school, or while shopping, or reading, watching television, or eating, etc., all of these without dribbling a basketball of course. Do this basketball training exercise until you’ve developed it into a habit. It can become habit within 7 days, or if you’re doing this throughout your entire day maybe within 5 days or less. Continue this exercise until it becomes habit, EVEN IF IT TAKES YOU A YEAR. When this becomes a habit you need not practice it further for it has become a way of life. That’s a good thing. This habit is good for you on so many levels of living.

Now, after you have developed this habit it’s time to e x p a n d your peripheral vision even f u r t h e r . Do the following exercise for five minutes at least twice a day for the rest of your life (the more often you can do this training exercise on a basketball court the better). Doing this peripheral vision exercise before a basketball game and during half-time is a really good idea, not only to improve your peripheral vision but this exercise is unbelievably relaxing. Stand with your feet approximately shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Lift your arms to shoulder height extend them out to the side parallel to the floor as far as you can spread them, as if showing someone how long a 10 foot shark is. You’re in perfect position when your arms are spread and your hands are back far enough to be just inside the edge of your peripheral vision field. Now slowly rotate, from the waist, to the left and then back to the right and back to the left again and repeat rotating only as far as is comfortable. This is not a stretch, you are not stretching, this is a peripheral vision sports movement.
Your neck does not pivot, your head moves with the rest of your upper body, your eyeballs are fixed in their sockets, you can see both hands just inside the limits of your peripheral vision, your eyes are locked straight ahead. You know you’re doing it right when the room, or scenery, appears to be swinging back and forth, although your body is what’s actually swinging back and forth.

Your focus is straight out, aiming straight ahead, looking neither left, right, up, or down. While looking straight out you must always be able to peripherally see both your outstretched hands; that’s how wide your field of vision is! Swing your body slowly so everything passing by your eyes is clear and nothing is blurred. Blurring means you are rotating too fast. The object of this exercise is getting your mind to notice and recognize everything within your moving field of peripheral vision. What’s happening is your brain is actually snapping thousands of pictures of the scenery as it swings by your eyes and stores these pictures for future reference. You are training your mind to study the entire 'moving' field of your peripheral vision.

It may take some time to master this, but after you’ve become accustomed to this movement, very slowly increase the speed of your upper body rotation, day by day, month by month, year to year. Can you imagine how incredible your peripheral vision will become after years of practicing this invaluable basketball training exercise? You will see things on the basketball court during a basketball game that will surprise and even astound you. This exercise will develop your sense of peripheral vision to the extent of cementing your reputation as a basketball player with eyes in the back of your head. This exercise will allow you to develop the skill of knowing where the other 9 basketball players and the referees (which is extremely valuable information) are on the basketball court at all times. This is the exercise that will allow you to develop the skill of deadly accurate no look passes. You are training your mind to study the entire moving field of your peripheral vision at the speed of thought.

What is actually happening here is you are giving your conscious mind a job. What’s that job exactly? Paying attention to the peripheral field of vision. Remember, your conscious mind is only capable of performing one task at a time. And now that your conscious mind is occupied your unconscious mind can sort through those thousands of pictures your brain is taking and ‘speed read’ the basketball court. When that happens you are running on instinct, you are 100% in your imagination; you are ‘In The Zone.’ An acutely developed field of peripheral vision is a free pass into your imagination which is a free pass into ‘The Zone.’

An advanced basketball exercise you can do to open your mind to utilizing your peripheral vision involves dribbling two basketballs:
Dribble both basketballs simultaneously, one with each hand, walking from one end of the court to the other and back again, etc. As you're dribbling these two basketballs, rotate your head from side to side, with your eyeballs locked looking straight out. When you're doing this properly it appears as if the gym is swinging back and forth. If your vision is blurring you're rotating your head too quickly. When you believe you're getting good at this basketball dribbling drill, and you'll know it when you're not stumbling around the court like a drunk anymore, pick up the pace. Eventually you'll be running flat out with your head swiveling about wildly on your shoulders. Remember to swivel your head only as fast as your vision is clear and not blurred.

When you become proficient at this basketball dribbling drill, set yourself up an obstacle course to dribble through and continually raise the level of difficulty of your obstacle course, you can also increase the difficulty of dribbling by substituting one basketball with a tennis ball or one basketball with a ‘heavy’ basketball, or both. These peripheral vision / basketball dribbling drills not only make you a better dribbler, in quick order I might add, they simultaneously teach you how to see the entire court, which in turn allows you to know where everyone is on the court at all times. Knowing where everyone is all the time, good court vision, made Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd, John Stockton, Michael Jordan, Chris Paul and Steve Nash appear to have eyes in the back of their heads.

Your mind, the mind of an athlete, after experiencing ‘The Zone’ will want to stay ‘In The Zone’ and play from the perspective of ‘The Zone.’ Using your peripheral vision to enter and stay ‘In The Zone’ during a game makes it easier to segue into ‘The Shooting Zone’ when you’re taking a shot. It’s just another scenario as far as your imagination is concerned. Do you now realize how entering into ‘The Zone’ is the gateway to DEADLY SHOOTING ACCURACY?

Author's Bio: 

Hi -
My name is Coach (Dave) Jones.

I'm a Basketball Shooting Coach by trade, but a life coach by nature. Basketball teaches team work, team work creates good citizens, good citizens by definition have a good life.

I'm an NLP trainers trainer. I learned basketball coaching on my own. I was trained in NLP by Dr. Krasner, Dr. Neves, Dr. Bandler and John La Valle. It took a while to properly merge basketball training and NLP.

This article is an excerpt from the Basketball Shooting Book, "Basketball - It's All About The Shot." You can download the entire book as a free PDF file on my website, The book teaches basketball but mostly the book is a guide to living and taking advantage of what life has to offer. Enjoy.