Jim Fannin – America’s ZoneCoach®. He is the world-renowned authority on getting professional athletes “in the zone”. We have all heard that phrase as it pertains to sports but Jim goes a few steps further. He helps players achieve it in all aspects of their lives. Jim recently spoke to me about how his S.C.O.R.E. Success System works, how it came about, and how it is all in his new book, The Blueprint: A Proven Plan For Successful Living. He also shared a couple of stories with me.
The S.C.O.R.E. Success System
A central part of what Jim Fannin coaches is the S.C.O.R.E. Success System. In 1974, along with three PhDs from Ohio State University, Jim began an 18-month project aimed at how to maximize super learning. They tested four and five-year-olds in various drills such as swinging a bat or a golf club, as well as running and jumping. This study led to the invention of S.C.O.R.E.
Jim explained how the system works. The five parts of this system produce chemicals in the human body which allow a person to be in the zone. Self-discipline produces cortisol which regulates metabolism and, as a result, helps with memory formulation. Concentration produces glycogen which is stored in the muscles. Optimism produces endorphins which reduce stress and therefore helps in relaxation that produces serotonin which, in turn, helps the nervous system. Finally, enjoyment produces dopamine which works with serotonin to help nerve cells. He explained that these chemicals work together to naturally assist the athlete to be the best they can be at any particular moment and in any situation. The combination of these chemicals also assists in super learning.
There are other physical aspects of The Blueprint that work with S.C.O.R.E. to maximize performance and learning. Jim speaks about having an “unhinged jaw” as it pertains to a baseball player. When a player’s jaw is clenched, the player, in turn, grips the bat tighter which makes them pull the bat up when they swing. Another effect of being in the zone is that a player’s eyes double or even triple their shutter speed. The ball seems like it’s coming in slower than it actually is and that helps with pitch recognition. When a player is in the zone, their stomach capillaries constrict causing increased blood flow to the brain and to the large muscles which then increases quickness, balance, and strength.
After the project, Jim Fannin knew he had something special. He also knew immediately that he wanted to bring his system to as many people as possible. Jim went on to franchise a tennis program for children and sold 43 of them in the Chicago area alone. He began giving seminars to parents about super learning and tennis. At one seminar, a man raised his hand and asked, “Does this work for baseball too?” Jim responded, “yes”. They spoke after the seminar and that was how Ron Karkovice wound up becoming Jim’s very first baseball client.
Jim Fannin met Frank Thomas his rookie year in the dugout of Comiskey Park and the exchange went like this:
Jim: “What do you want? Why am I here?”
Frank: “Hall of Fame.”
Jim: “Really. It’s gonna cost you.”
Frank: “What’s your fee?”
Jim: “My fee? You’re gonna be paying me chump change out of your front pocket. You’re gonna miss your daughter’s birthday parties.”
Frank: “I don’t have any kids.”
Jim: “You may have 18 kids like Shawn Kemp in the NBA. You’re gonna miss your anniversary.”
Frank: “I’m not married. I don’t even have a girlfriend.”
Jim: “You may have four wives. Hall of Fame’s 20 years. Hope you don’t. You gotta sacrifice. You gotta be a Hall of Famer right now.”
They went to Cooperstown. Frank Thomas was visualizing himself at the podium making his induction speech while Jim was in the audience visualizing listening to Frank. That was in 1990. In 2014 Frank Thomas stood at the podium in Cooperstown, NY and delivered that speech. Frank Thomas said to Jim in his speech, “You told me to live in the zone, on and off the field, and even today, I thank you, buddy.” Jim Fannin was in the audience.
Looking back and Looking Forward
Since the days of coaching tennis in the 70’s, Jim has coached thousands of sports and business professionals in nearly every arena from the boardroom to the field. He has helped his clients for over 40 years achieve their goals in their careers, relationships, and with their children. Jim’s clients have 24/7 access to him, as he coaches people from around the globe. Jim told me, “The man with most constants in a game of variables is the most successful.” At that time we were talking about baseball, but the same could also be said for life. Jim Fannin has been a constant for over 40 years. He is certainly successful. He lives what he teaches and has proven that it works.