Focus and Flow are at the heart of Sports Psychology:
- Focus is complete attention to the execution of a skill
- Flow is the state of being completely engrossed in the execution of a performance to the exclusion of everything else
When you are in a state of flow, focussing intensely on the execution of skills, you will give your best performances. You enter a state of almost Zen-like meditation in which mood, distraction and different stressors simply have no place in your consciousness. You are free to execute skills just as you have trained to execute them. This is an immensely satisfying state to achieve.
The qualities of flow are:
- All your attention is focused either /li>
- on the skills or routine being performed
- or on the input from your senses relevant to the sport
- You are fully focused of the activities being performed, and are:
- not aware of your own awareness, consciousness of self or ego
- not evaluating the quality of execution of skills during performance
- not concerned with distractions such as results, judges, audiences or other peoples expectations
- not making any conscious decisions in your mind or reasoning with words - you are trusting your body to follow its training
- You are in complete control of actions and reactions
- You feel almost in an altered state of consciousness: achieving flow is exhilarating, and gives a powerful feeling of competence.
This section of Mind Tools will explain how to achieve flow and focus, and will explain how to deal with the main things that interfere with it. These are poor mood control, lack of ability to manage distraction and, most importantly, how to handle and use stress.