non-dual scott ford zone

By Scott Ford

Today is another day in my book of days, starting with my daily journal. For me, journaling is like diving into a freshwater stream of consciousness and going for a swim. Sometimes the swims are on the surface; other swims dive deeper. It’s up to me: do I snorkel on the surface, or breathe deeply and dive?

Today I think I’ll dive but into the stream of coaching non-dual performance experience. It’s a familiar but challenging stream to me, as are its non-dual situations, particularly in sports, with tennis being the sport I play and coach, only I coach and play tennis in its non-dual version. The version tennis players call playing in the zone. The version I call home-field advantage. In tennis, home-field advantage is called “advantage-in” or “ad-in,” meaning I have the advantage, and if I win the next point, I win the game. If I lose the next point, the game returns to even, and I’ve lost nothing but a win – ad-in, my ad, my home-field advantage.

Think of playing in the zone as playing in the state of ad-in.
     Q: What’s being added?
     A: Soul.

Playing “in the zone” is playing with soul. Playing “in the norm” is playing with ego. The real competition, the deepest level of athletic competition, is not between self and others; it’s between our athletic ego and our athletic soul. How do we, as coaches, as teachers, as trainers; how do we train athletic souls without bruising athletic ego?

Does it even matter? If you don’t care, then don’t coach soul. Keep coaching ego. There is nothing wrong with coaching athletic ego. It’s almost as challenging as coaching athletic soul. The big difference is that coaching ego excludes coaching soul, while coaching soul includes ego, then transcends it with the addition of heat and soul. Our performance heart and performance soul are the ad-ins that make our game whole, and Tier 2 Coaching starts with training heart and soul.

My coaching strategy is simple: cause and effect. Train players how to intentionally cause the non-dual effect of playing in the zone, then train them how to deliberately repeat the cause and develop it as a practice, thus developing their overall game from within the framework of a non-dual causal practice. Think of it as practicing your game by playing it in the zone on purpose. It’s one of the non-ordinary training practices – NOT practices – EVO Sports will be highlighting in the future.

The concept of coaching the zone experience is no longer a coaching fiction; it’s a coaching fact, and we see more Tier 1 coaching programs adding NOT practices, including non-dual training, to their coaching curricula. Thus, Tier 1 coaching and performance development, which is body-mind based development, is being transcended by Tier 2 coaching and performance, which adds heart and soul to the body-mind mix. That is the ad-in part of coaching non-dual performance experience. That’s what Tier 2 offers that is missing from Tier 1.

Tier 2 coaching has a big job in front of it. Fortunately, there is an emergence of young coaches who are already aware of the value added to their training programs through NOT practices that developed the emotional and spiritual dimensions of athletic performance. The ad-in dimensions that make playing in the zone such an extraordinary experience.

This emergence of Tier 2 coaching and performance consciousness simultaneously expands athletic consciousness into the territory of non-dual human experience. For Tier 2 coaches, it’s an open territory ripe for exploration for conventional Tier 1 coaches; it’s a taboo territory, ripe for criticism.

In spite of criticisms, we are seeing a shift in coaching paradigms taking place in front of our eyes. It’s coming in conjunction with a shift in global consciousness from ethnocentric to world-centric consciousness – as climate change and COVID-19 wreak havoc around the world.

There is a reason for the global havoc. It’s called conscious human evolution, and as members of the human race, we are all a part of its conscious evolution; whether we choose to be or not to be, that is the question. In coaching, we see the emergence of Tier 2 coaching as more NOT practices are being added into the standard curriculum of body-mind practices we all grew up with.

Nobody taught competitive heart or performance soul when I was growing up. You either had it, or you didn’t. Coaches back then didn’t coach heart and soul. They coached biomechanics and mental toughness. That was it. That’s all they knew as coaches, so that’s all they coached, and that’s all we learned, until one day, for no apparent reason, we suddenly started playing in the zone and experienced what it’s like to add heart and soul to our game.

Then, just as we realize something extraordinary was happening to our game – POOF! It all went away. Or zone experience came over us by chance, stayed a while by chance, then left us by chance as well. Never by choice, always by chance.

     “Hey, Coach! How do I get in the zone by choice, not by chance?”
     Tier 1 Coach: “I don’t know, let’s practice your body and strengthen your mind. That’s my coaching gig."
     Tier 2 Coach: “My coaching gig is to show you NOT practices that will get you in the zone by choice, not by chance.”

It’s a different coaching gig, in a different performance arena. Yet non-dual training practices are emerging in the global world of performance and performance coaching at exactly the time when the world can use a burst of non-dual unity.

Playing your sport in the zone is a burst of non-dual unity. Playing in the zone on purpose is a burst of intentional non-dual unity at a time when global division is the norm. The best thing is, non-dual unity can be added to any performance program, in any sport, at any skill level because playing in the zone is for everyone. It is ubiquitous, and it’s the ultimate experience of player/field unification. Our zone experiences are genuine bursts of non-dual unity that can be intentionally created by playing in the zone on purpose.

I don’t know about you, but it feels to me like we live in a world that could use more bursts of non-dual unity rather than more bursts of dualistic rivalry, such as we saw in DC on January 6. Here’s a thought: why not start at home by learning how to unify with our individual fields of play? Why not start a movement of global unity by playing in the zone on purpose?

At a global level, the Tier 2 coaching and performance community is becoming a powerful player in the field of health and wellness. Metaphorically, imagine a movement to divide Mother Earth versus a movement to unify Mother Earth. Tier 2 coaching and performance consciousness is part of a conscious human movement toward unifying Mother Earth, and EVO Sports is a home for that collective movement. It’s not the only home for non-dual unification, but it’s the only home that blows your socks off at the front door.

Here’s the home address:


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