This article was originally published on www.waterpoloplanet.com
The Flow State of Mind
If you want to play your best and find a flow state (aka “the zone”), it is important to develop a way of checking in with where you are, moment to moment. The flow state happens when you are fully immersed in what you are doing while experiencing an energized focus. It is the optimal state of mind where all peak performances happen. It is for you to find it. Although, finding flow doesn’t necessarily mean you will automatically play at your peak. This is the nature of competing in team sports where many variables impact the outcome of your play.
Mental Release – Reset Your Mind
It is important to develop a consistent mindset that sets you up to find the flow. With that, it is necessary to learn how to reset your mind when it’s not where you want it. In that moment, you have a choice. You could quiet your mind and shift your focus to what is game relevant or stay “stuck” in frustration. If you are frustrated with the way you have been playing, consumed by what may or may not happen in the game you haven’t even played in yet, or stuck in over-analysis mode and having a tough time making a decision to move, than you need to use a reset mechanism to clear your mind. In sport psychology, we call this a mental release. The image of letting go or detaching from those debilitating thoughts helps you conceptualize what needs to be done.
Present – Moment Focus
Where is your mind at this very moment? Can you control that? Playing present is connecting to the flow of the game and your surroundings. But there may be times when your mind becomes fixating on something that is not as important as this moment right now. Think about all the times during games when you are trying to figure out what you or the team was doing wrong. In stead, you could focus on giving everything you have in the next play. It serves you well to make recovering between quarters a priority so that you are consistently practicing present-moment focus.
This isn’t a rigid way of thinking about how you play but rather an evolving and accepting way of how you play. Finding the right mental readiness before the game starts is as important as using your mental release as the game moves on to help you use the energy you have on the current play. There are a number of ways to develop a release both as an individual and as a team. The essence lies in making it uniquely meaningful to you so that you could practice it and automatically connect it to your game.