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Being in the Zone!
A previous article (see other article on this tab) was about concentration. The keys were to stay focused on relevant issues for the duration of the shot. If concentration is good then the player may even at times enter the ‘Zone’ or be in a state of ‘Flow’. I am sure you must have heard athletes talk about it at times, they are referring to Flow state. According to its original author Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced; Cheek sent me high) Flow is simply a state of pure happiness where we experience optimal experience and often optimal performance, but it’s not all about performance. For example, reading a good book or watching a good film often result in Flow state.
What are the signs of being in this Flow state? (i.e. The Zone)
- The feeling that your skills can meet the challenge
- Time is distorted, normally goes faster than you realize
- Clear goals in the activity you are doing
- A loss of self-awareness
- Total concentration
- Doing something you enjoy
- A sense of control but you feel like you are not trying that hard
So these are things to look out for or even strive for, but what are the top tips for obtaining a state of Flow?
The following should act as a guide for you.
A positive attitude and feelings.
This is a good time to suggest the skills/challenge balance when you play. The research suggests that we need to take on challenges that we feel a certain amount of challenge in but crucially we feel that our skills are suitable to meet the challenge.
Stay focused on the right things
We learned this last month when discussing concentration. Try to adopt an achievable goal for each shot you play. It might be just the focus of staying balanced in your follow through or smoothly accelerating your hands through impact in a putting stroke.
Be physically ready
A pre-shot routine is the obvious choice here. But before you go through it make sure you feel ready. A couple of slow breaths may help or muscle relaxation techniques where you tense everything for a few seconds and then let it go, after that then start your routine
A don’t to finish with! Don’t attempt anything in a negative frame of mind
Negative thoughts are not helpful so if it’s a practice session, just stop and think things through. Often a good approach to change a negative mind set is to simply ask yourself why you are in this mood. The answer usually helps to put it in perspective and helps to diffuse the thinking.