Developing Flow State for Extreme Gains in Athletic Performance

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In an article posted the same week as this show entitled “Hacking the mind to take the win” I covered several topics in an effort to help an athlete understand some of the things that are available to them to deal with Anxiety and how to make the mind become an ally rather than a foe. Topics ranged from Mindfulness and Mindful meditation, imagery, and mental visualization, practice and skills development.

An item I only touched on briefly in the article is Flow State. and that is what today’s subject is all about. You may have even heard the term getting into the zone. Well, that is Flow State and if you have never been in the Zone or your an athlete who would like to get in the zone more often then you are really going to like this show! This show will be the closest thing I have ever had to an audio only webinar but don’t worry this isn’t meant to be virtual death by power point show but instead, it’s meant to help individual athletes and even teams to learn how to utilize that big muscle between their ears.

NOTE: Before you get out pencil and paper for the show I want to let everyone know that that this show will have extensive show notes. I will try to do this with all studio recorded shows in the future. To find the show notes simply go to or search for the show title on our website.

I would also like to remind everyone that I have a new Training Plan ready for download on how those without a power meter or even a Heart Rate strap can train at a high level and see huge performance gains in as little as 6 weeks. For those who listen to the show use the coupon code “flowstate” to receive 50% off at checkout. This coupon code is good for one download and expires October 1st, 2017.

Did you also know that all returning training plan purchasers get 15% off of any download for life? All you have to do is to go to our contact us page and ask for the returning customer coupon code and if I have determined that you are a return customer I will email you the code!

So Let’s jump in and cover what you are going to learn about today.

  • What is Flow State
  • Why should you care about reaching a state of flow
  • What are the four athletic cycles of flow state
  • What are the 17 triggers of flow state

Flow state is described by Steve Kotol the Best Selling Author of The Rise of Superman

“As a hyper-focused state. We are so focused on the task at hand that everything else falls away. Action and awareness merge. Time flies. Self vanishes. Performance goes through the roof.”

So why should athlete’s care about entering a flow state?

Did you not hear the quote? Who wouldn’t want some of that?!?!


I found a couple of great infographics authored by C Wilson Meloncelli,  that does a fantastic job of explaining the 4 phases of flow for athletes.

The four phases are Struggle, Release, Flow, and Consolidation

Struggle is when hard training leads to stress and even anxiety

Release is when you accept the struggle and take on the challenge

Flow is when the athlete feels invincible and can do anything

Consolidation is when the athlete can recall everything that happened in great detail during their peak performance when entering a flow state

COACH ROB COVERS SOME OF HIS OWN EXPERIENCES and how these 4 phases coincide with training patterns

So how does one go about entering a flow state

In many cases, athletes have found themselves getting into the Zone or Flow State by what appears to be by accident. Researchers learned however that there are 17 triggers that may in part or whole allow anyone, not just athletes to enter a flow state.

There are 4 Psychological Triggers that are the internal strategies that drive attention to the here and now. These triggers are Intensely Focussed Attention, Clear Goals, Immediate Feedback, and an equal Challenge Skills Ratio

There are 3 Environmental Triggers that are qualities in the environment that drive athletes deeper into the zone. These triggers are High Consequences, a Rich Environment, and a Deep Embodiment

There are 9 Social Triggers that are ways to alter social conditions to produce more group flow. These triggers are Serious Concentration, Shared Clear Goals, Good Communication, Familiarity, Equal Participation and Skill Level, Risk, A Sense Of Control, Close Listening and Always Saying Yes

There is/are 1 maybe 2 Creative Triggers that are based on pattern recognition that allows the brain to link new ideas together and risk-taking which leads to the courage to execute new ideas.

Let’s talk about the 4 Psychological Triggers

Intensely Focussed Attention means long periods of concentration with no distractions and a focus on singular tasks

Clear Goals means knowing what you are doing and why you are doing it. When goals are clear the mind doesn’t wander.

Immediate Feedback is an extension of clear goals and if we know how to improve performance in real-time the mind doesn’t go off in search of clues for betterment.

A Challenge to Skills Ratio means that the challenge we are undertaking needs to be slightly greater than the skills we have


Let’s talk about the 3 Environmental Triggers

High Consequences means that when there is danger lurking in our environment we don’t have to concentrate extra hard as we are already in a state of high alert

Rich Environment means an environment full of challenges and novelty to catch and focus our attention like risk will

Deep Embodiment means if we don’t know what happens next we focus on the next in an effort to not predict but to adapt quickly


Now let’s cover the 9 Social Triggers

Serious Concentration is required in sports as games and races can be determined in the blink of an eye. The athlete must look at everything and nothing at the same time

Shared Clear Goals means the group/team must have a well understood and agreed to goal for flow to happen

Good Communication means listening closely, accept it, build upon it and move forward. Nothing blocks flow more than ignoring or negating a member or teammate.

Familiarity means the group/team has a common language, a shared base of knowledge and a communication style based on unspoken understandings

Equal Participation and Skill Level means that group and teammates will have an equal role and similar skill levels

Risk is simply the potential for failure without risk there can be no reward.

A Sense Of Control requires autonomy and competence for individuals to choose their challenges and have the skills to overcome them

Close Listening means that members must be fully present in the here and now capable of generating real-time unplanned responses to dialogue as it unfolds

Always Saying Yes means that you are being additive and not argumentative. This allows group and team members to amplify each other’s ideas and actions


And lastly, let’s wrap up by covering the Creative triggers

Pattern recognition is simply the brain’s ability to recognize patterns and potential outcomes and risk-taking are the courage to bring new ideas and actions into the world.


Music for show intro, outro, and mid-play break: “Jahzzar ( CC BY-SA” 
Intro and Outro music: Battle from the Crime Scene Album from Jahzzar
Mid-play break music: Please Listen Carefully from the Tumbling Dishes Like Old-Man’s Wishes Album
Featured image is of Cumberland Falls “The Niagra of the South” shot and edited by Coach Rob

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