What’s up Asheville! Do you ever wonder how some athletes have these fantastic performances that almost look unreal? A performance where everything they do looks perfect, as if they can’t mess up? We see it all the time in sports great athletes put on a great performance and as fans we are star struck. LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, these are some of the names that come to mind when I think flawless performance.
What can such different athletes have in common? In science we call this phenomenon a State of Flow and regardless of the sport all great athletes have experienced this.
The crazy part is that this State of Flow doesn’t only happen to professional athletes! I’m sure you can think back to a time when you played your sport and everything seemed to be perfect, you may have even felt it before the game, the day just felt different and when it came time to perform things could not have been better. As a matter of a fact you may notice afterwards that things seemed to move in slow motion during the competition or maybe things were moving super fast but you seemed to be able to anticipate everything! Well my friend, you experienced the State of Flow.
Of course to make this a more constant occurrence you have to act like these athletes and work physically but also mentally and dedicate yourself to the sport completely. But, is there something you can do to help you to achieve a state of flow more often? The answer is yes and what is even better you can apply this to other aspects of your life. Mental practice is where you have to start.
Now this doesn’t mean you just think it up and it will magically happen. But if you have a game this weekend visualize things that you want to do, imagine yourself executing specific actions to perfection, if you have the opportunity for closing a big deal visualize it happening imagine yourself executing. The next step is key! Physically practice it! If it is closing a big deal practice the speech, if it is executing a perfect pass, of free throws take 10 minutes of your day and practice it. Now, I’m not guaranteeing that this will make you the next Cristiano or Stephen Curry, but this is where you start and remember your only limit is the one you set for yourself in your mind. I’ll leave you with a quote by Ronaldinho on his mental practices “ When I train, one of the things I concentrate on is creating a mental picture of how best to deliver the ball to my teammates… So what I do, always before a game… is try and think up things, imagine plays, which no one will have thought of” (cited in Cumming and Ramsey, 2009, p. 5)
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