How Young Athletes Find Flow in Sports

 Flow and Peak Performance in Sports

For young athletes, finding flow is critical for their enjoyment and peak performance in sports…

When kids experience being “in the zone,” they are focused, confident, and fearless.

Athletes in a flow state perform on “autopilot,” feeling as though performance is almost effortless.

In fact, this focused state of concentration or “total focus” may be a prerequisite to entering the zone.

Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, a psychologist at the University of Chicago, has studied the phenomenon of “Flow” throughout his career.

Dr. C. studied a variety of athletes—basketball players, dancers, rock climbers, chess players, factory workers and other performers—to understand why people enjoy activities.

He learned that when people become fully absorbed into an activity, they reach a state people described as flow.

In his book “Flow in Sports,” Dr. C. offers nine qualities that describe the mindset of an athlete in the flow state:

  1. Challenge-Skills balance
  2. Merging of action and awareness
  3. Clear goals present
  4. Unambiguous feedback
  5. Concentration on the task at hand
  6. Sense of control
  7. Loss of self-consciousness
  8. Transformation of time
  9. Autotelic experience (intrinsic)

What Dr. C. concluded was that when these elements are present, an “order in consciousness” occurs, which allows people to “merge with the activity.”

In addition, flow states help athletes have fun (His research originally focused on how people have fun and enjoy their lives without extrinsic rewards). Just being in flow is enjoyable.

We certainly know that all four elements of concentration are present in sports…

First, sports are challenging by definition.

Second, sports usually match the skills of individuals or teams in a competitive environment.

Third, the goals of sports are clear—to hit a jump shot or to sink a ten foot putt.

Lastly, athletes get instant feedback related to their performance—whether or not they miss the basket or sink the putt.

What is the takeaway from his work on flow? When athletes become immersed in the task of performing and have confidence to meet the challenge, they perform well.

You help athletes to become immersed by defining what’s important to focus on and what’s just a distraction.

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The Composed Sports Kid

“The Composed Sports Kid” audio and workbook digital download program for young athletes and their parents or coach helps kids cope with frustration and anger in sports. Help your sports kids learn how to manage expectations and let go of mistakes so they can keep their head in the game. 

The Composed Sports Kid system is really two programs in one–one program to train parents and coaches how to help their kids practice composure, and one program that teaches young athletes–ages 6 to 13–how to improve composure, let go of mistakes quickly, have more self-acceptance, and thus enjoy sports more

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