Flowing to the Peak of Performance


There are many names and phrases athletes use to describe the feelings they have when they are performing at their best. My personal favourite is referring to oneself as “being on fire”. I love the imagery that comes with that one. Setting the labels aside (you can share some of yours in the comments), the experience of athletes is very similar across sports. When athletes are performing at their best, they feel:

  • mentally and physically relaxed
  • focused in the present
  • like their performance is effortless
  • energized
  • highly aware of themselves, their surroundings, and what their team-mates and opponents are doing
  • in complete control
  • separated from everything but the competition

As an athlete, the challenge is getting yourself to the point where you experience these feelings and perceptions on a regular basis.

Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the term flow to describe how people feel when they “are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter”. Being in flow, seems to be a requisite for performing your best. While being in “flow” will not guarantee peak performance, it seems impossible to have a peak performance without it. It’s also when you experience maximum enjoyment in what you’re doing.

Here’s a talk given by Dr. Csikszentmihalyi in 2004 that I hope you will find interesting.

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  1. Jason
    7 years ago

    I’ve read a number of his books and the concept of flow is one of my favorites. Constant feedback and an experience that is not too hard or too easy.

    Being on fire isn’t really that great imagery to me 😉 “In the Zone” is probably my go to phrase. Though basketball demands the use of “on fire” yet I prefer the “en fuego” variation 😉

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