Finding Your Athletic Flow

Finding Your Athletic Flow
By: Hyla Conrad

athletic flow julie lohre hyla conrad
Athletes have this sort of flow about the way they perform. As a figure athlete, I tend to forget that I am an athlete. Just because I don’t get paid to train and perform, doesn’t mean I am not an athlete. Finding the flow within us is difficult, and we look at others and think, “ Wow, they look great, how do they keep on top of their training and nutrition?”

It’s all about the flow.

So what is athletic flow? Athletic flow means being “on a roll” and things are on autopilot-no thought process needed. You are intrinsically motivated to perform the task at hand by having the balance between your skills and the challenge-the two become equal. There are a couple reasons why some athletes have intrinsic motivation and others don’t.

Motivation to perform-this is what is stated above. During your training session, there must be a balance between your own skills and the challenge of the task. For example, if you have never sprinted in your life, don’t expect to go to the track for the first time and run 100m in 13 seconds. Build up the skills needed to achieve the challenge. Balance your current skills with your training, and then as weeks progress, add more challenges as your skills improve. This motivates you to perform at optimal levels.

Relax- Maybe you have never lifted weights before, or never performed a certain exercise. This creates anxiety and the result of this anxiety is lack of flow. There is a balance between relaxation and confidence that is needed to perform the task. Do your homework, try it at home with no weight, proper form, and then move into the gym. Sometimes jumping into the unknown creates this imbalance between relaxation and confidence and disrupts the flow.
Focus- When you are doing biceps curls, focus on the bicep. Simple as that, stop thinking about what you are going to eat for dinner, or when your next appointment is. Focus on the task as hand, and get in the habit. Once it becomes a habit, you become very focused and concentration becomes much easier. It just flows.

Confidence and self talk- Tell yourself exactly this, “ I have the ability to do this.” Believe in yourself and think positively, this helps athletic flow. Self-doubt and pressure to perform a task disrupts the flow. This can come from yourself, or someone else putting the pressure on you. Surround yourself with positive people, and believe in yourself. Say nice things to yourself. Feel good about your performance during a workout.
Clear goals-Can’t say it enough, in my last article Goal Setting 101, I explained how to write a clear goal. Knowing where you need to go, being clear and specific is the only way to know if you actually get there. Being vague is not an option. Make sure they are realistic goals. These things take time, commitment, focus, and drive. Making the goals realistic will create the drive; because it’s attainable yet still a challenge.

Absorb yourself in the training- Nothing else matters, it consumes you. For 30m your high intense interval training consumes you. All you care about it performing at a high level, getting the most out of it, giving it everything you have. The world around you doesn’t exist; you are completely and totally absorbed in that training session. Don’t make this complicated; make it simple. If its sprints, just think fast. If its plyometrics, just think power. Use one word over and over again, let that word consume your mind and body.

A lot to take in for athletic flow, yes. Time and effort towards these skills will create the flow, and in turn creates intrinsic motivation. Which is our ultimate goal. Most people who have that motivation and drive, and most athletes that obtain this, are athletes who compete against themselves. Trophies, money, and rewards are all great, but in the end if we don’t have that drive to be better than who we used to be, we are ultimately rewarded nothing.

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