What do all elite athletes in different sports have in common, and how can their incredible athleticism be explained? The answer is that their activities can easily be linked to ‘Flow State’. Flow is a particular psychological state of total absorption in a task. In all honesty, the concept of Flow, in and of itself, is a paradoxical state of mind. When in Flow, athletes are absolutely focused on what they are doing, and this heightened attention is associated with several positive factors.
According to author Steve Kotler who wrote the book ‘The Rise of Superman’, “Flow is a hyper-focused state. We are so focused on the task at hand that everything else falls away. Action and awareness merge. Time flies. Self vanishes. Performance goes through the roof.”
In general, a number of factors have to be in place for Flow to occur, and it’s certainly not a natural state for most athletes to attain. However, post experiencing the flow state, Athletes are motivated to re-experience Flow because of its intrinsically rewarding nature. Understanding the flow experience is important because it provides a more rewarding performance not only in athletics but also in life.
During the flow phase, an athlete performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, it’s characterized by complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one’s sense of space and time, an air of invincibility.
How Can You Get Into Flow?
There are certain stages through which an athlete goes to reach the flow state. Here is everything you need to know about these stages:
The struggle phase commences when an athlete starts to train hard and pushes himself/herself to the limits while researching and brainstorming. All of this process leads to overloading the brain and ultimately causes a sense of extreme frustration, tension, stress & anxiety. This phase is also a result of people’s unwillingness to change themselves and move out of their comfort zone.
Post accepting that the struggle is inevitable, athletes take their minds off the problem entirely and takes a step back to calm down and evaluate. This isn’t the same as watching TV or other distractions that keep the brain busy, but it’s about relaxing the brain so that the subconscious mind can take over the conscious mind.
Flow State Phase:
This is what is known as being in the zone. The productivity of an athlete during this phase is off the charts and experiences an optimum performance. This superhuman experience happens when the inspiration takes over, and the struggle and release phase account into an opportunity for individuals to move their experience from average to optimal.
Introspection & Rewiring Phase:
During this phase, athletes take everything that happened during the peak performance they achieved and understand the possibilities it may provide in the future. Post this; they can rewire their thought process because the flow state is the moment in sports that all athletes are striving to accomplish, and not only is it challenging to enter but also to re-enter at will.
After the dramatic high that athletes feel during the peak performance comes an equally dramatic low. Rebalancing and rebuilding through fulfilling nutritional requirements, mindfulness, and meditation to prepare the endurance for re-entering the Flow Phase.
The flow state isn’t something exclusive to elite athletes. If you enjoy playing a sport, have fitness goals, or get better at any other activity, finding your Flow can significantly benefit you. Getting into the flow state can increase your life-quality, make you more present, boost your creativity, improve your performance, and make you feel more alive.