FLOW-STATE COACHING PART 1
By Scott Ford
After a recent Master’s Series call with Catt Tripoli, author of the book “Conscious Fitness,” I realized how much flow-state training is becoming an integral part of the athletic world, for players and for coaches alike. What used to be considered “woo-woo BS” is now seen as an important pathway in developmental coaching.
Flow is a “Unified Field Experience,” and unified, flow-state experiences are found everywhere around the world in every sport. It is this shift from the dualistic consciousness of our normal performance state to the non-dual consciousness of our peak performance state that immediately starts generating flow-state experiences in whatever sport we are playing, wherever we are playing it, and whatever our level of play.
How Tier 2 coaches go about coaching flow is a matter of perspective. There is the exterior perspective on flow that looks at how our sensorimotor operating system relates to the dynamic situational fields we get ourselves into every time we play our sport.
Exterior flow looks like dynamic player-field coherence. For instance, Roger Federer’s backhand is a perfect example of what dynamic player-field coherence looks like in tennis. Steph Curry’s jump-shot, Catt Tripoli’s balletic moves from one pose to the next, or Jamie Zimron’s fairway wood, and the “POW” of dead-solid perfection.
Examples of dynamic player-field coherence exist in every sport. It’s the external non-dual connection between player and field that causes the look of effortless ease we see in flow-state performances.
Flow also has an interior perspective that looks at the who, not the how of flow. Who am I when I’m in a state of flow? And why am I able to shift into a flow-state in the first place? There must be a logical reason why we can shift from our normal performance state to our peak performance state, and now that we know how to shift into flow, the next step is to get into flow and experience the why.
And the who, too. As in, who is playing when we’re playing in the zone? It’s certainly not our ego. Ego and flow don’t mix. Flow is an egoless, unselfconscious state of being. A selfless performance state that is all about the performance being constructed by the selfless-self. Confusing, I know.
If you’ve ever been in the zone, and all of us have because flow is ubiquitous in sports. We’ve all been in the zone, stayed there a while, then returned to playing in the norm. We’ve all been there; done that. Which means we’ve all experienced our selfless-self in action. Other names for the selfless-self are the Authentic Self, the True Self, or dare I say it in the company of science, the selfless-self is our soul.
If you’ve ever been in a state of flow, then you’ve experienced a selfless state of being, and its selfless self-identity. Your Authentic Self, your True Self, the non-dual ID of your soul is who you are when you are playing in the zone. Compare playing in the norm with ego to playing in the zone with soul and you’re comparing the interior and exterior dimensions of your normal and peak performance states.
Tier 2 coaching and performance development is all about developing a player’s ability to intentionally generate a state of performance flow and maintain it through increasing levels of situational complexity. The situational complexities found in modern sports are the fertile fields of player development. At their highest levels of complexity these fields look like the red clay of Roland Garros, the green grass of Wembley Stadium, the Octagons of MMA, pick a field of world-class complexity and you pick a field with levels of complexity generally above yours, or mine, or most other players in the world.
The fields of highest complexity in sports are peopled by very few. The rest of us are watching in awe of what we see because a part of us sees us in the favorite few we’re watching. Those fields of high-level performance complexity are surrounded by high-level coaches and their team of high-level assistance, some of whom are conscious flow coaches who deal in developing the soul. Fields of such intense competitive complexity require more than the ego can handle. So high-level coaching programs are bringing in specialists to develop the player’s soul.
How do they do it? How do they develop a performer’s soul?
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