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Being in the Zone

Being in the Zone
Being in the Zone explores the theme of 'peak experience' or 'being in the zone' in music, sport and work.
August 2012 - March 2014

Being in the Zone explores the theme of 'peak experience' or 'being in the zone' in music, sport and work. This project is an AHRC funded Research Network, co-investigated by Kath Woodward (OU) and Tim Jordan (King's College London)

The phenomenon of individuals or groups who routinely perform creatively achieving a state of extreme competence in a specific performance is well known in psychology, where 'being-in-the-zone' (bitz) has been studied. Musicians, sportspeople, creative workers and others all repeat certain actions and experiences but occasionally they repeat these actions—playing a clarinet, batting, or software coding—with an unexpected and extremely high level of competence, often beyond the competence the individual thought they were capable of; such experiences are when individuals are 'in the zone'. However, analysis of bitz has focused on the internal states of individuals and thus underestimated the importance of culture to heightened creative performance and the cultural significance of achieving a personal best. This is particularly important for understanding a commitment to participate in activities that depend critically on 'care of the self' both in relation to body and psyche.

The project will focus on this neglected theoretical-practical nexus of culture and bitz across six two day workshop events. The six two day events will be themed on; theories of culture and bitz; sport; music; work; methodology; and a final event on culture, psychology and performance. Each event will be overseen by a small group of scholars expert in these areas in consultation with the PI or Co-I.

The project will involve six workshops to examine the concept and see how it can be explored in each of the domains of embodied experience. It will involve collaborations with Exeter, Oxford, King's College, Brighton and Canterbury Christ Church.

Video and Audio links

Watch the video to know more about the project (with Kath Woodward)

Watch a podcast on Sport and BITZ (with Clifton Evers)

Being In the Zone: Liminal Reflections, by Prof Paul Stenner (Psychology, Open University)

Zoning Reinvention: The Global Consequences of Makeover Mantras, by Prof Anthony Elliott (Director, Hawke a Research Institute)

Related Events

Working Lives and Being in the zone, 17 June 2013, King's College London

Sport and Being in the zone, 9 July 2013, University of Birghton

Bitz and Music, 2 October 2013, University of Exeter

Bitz Final Conference, 19 February 2014, Open University in London

Final Video of the Project (30mn)


Kath Woodward