4 Ways to get in the Performance Zone and Stay There

When swimmers are asked to recall their best performances, they typically describe a feeling of effortless power, excitement, and readiness for the upcoming challenge. In Sport Psychology terms, this is known as achieving a State of Flow. Research tells us that those who frequently experience flow states are; More confident More Self aware More in control of their lives and interests Higher achievers More committed to reaching their goals Having more fun So, the question that follows is ‘how do I achieve this flow state?’ Is it simply luck, or can we create circumstances for ourselves that are likely to manifest this state of being? Csiksentmihalyi’s Flow Theory describes moment to moment subjective experience, defined by the relationship between person (perceived skill level) and environment (perceived level of challenge), that is engaged in for the sole purpose of enjoyment. In other words, how we think and feel about our upcoming challenge determines how much joy, passion, and fun we have. There are four possibilities for approaching a competition. Remember though, this is all based on our perceptions of the task. High Challenge + Low Skill = nervousness, emotionality, over-thinking High Skill + Low Challenge = boredom and apathy Low Challenge + Low skill = Asleep/disengaged High Challenge + High Skill = Engaged, energized, and aware Certainly, we would all prefer to find ourselves in this high challenge/high skill situation, and the good news is that you can create this at any time! The next time you are in practice, or a meet see if you can creatively do some of the following; Find a balance between the challenge of...

Academic Coaching Strategies for Exams

Plan your review strategy, and study schedule, well in advance. Assuming you do this, your exam review strategy might look like this: 1. Overview your strong points, and areas where there are knowledge gaps. Accept that it is never possible to know everything. Think more about how to make use of what you do know. 2. Rehearse. Assuming you have reviewed material throughout the trimester (the sooner, and more frequent, the better) you can begin to study for your exam by reviewing again. Then space out additional review periods further and further apart. The more often you rehearse, the better it will withstand the test of time. 3. Be efficient – The best review session is one which leads you to remember the most after spending the least possible amount of time. So; Review as soon as possible following your initial learning. Study this again one day later…two day’s later… Study a third time one week later. Study a fourth time two weeks later… one month later (just in time for exams). This does not have to take a lot of time. Why does this work? You forget more slowly, and remember longer, after each review. Also, your brain processes information when it is slightly confused, or is on the verge of forgetting. In time, you will know how this process works for you and adapt the time period between reviews. If you find you do not remember enough, start your review sooner. If you remember too much (remember, you want the brain to be challenged) you can review later (ex. 2 days instead of one). As soon as...

Clinical and Sport Hypnosis

Developing mental skills for performance (athletic, arts), habit control, weight loss, injury rehabilitation, and self-confidence is an important strategy for enjoying a life well lived. Hypnosis can be an excellent, and effective method for attaining such goals. Contrary to popular notions of an hypnotic state (now, act like a chicken!), the process for engaging in a trance-like state is actually quite common. For example, have you ever been driving in a car, and suddenly realize you are already at your destination? That is a trance-like state! The role of the clinical or sport hypnosis practitioner is to act as a personal guide to assist you in by-passing your conscious understanding (worry, self-doubt, to do lists) and deeply connect with your innate ability to grow and heal on your own. One of the more important outcomes of an hypnotic trance state is an increased ability to use your imagination, and see possibilities that you may have never even considered. The process is simple, flexible, and personalized. Benefits include; Enhanced Imagination Increased confidence Mobilized Energy Increased Motivation Inner-Strength Development For, athletic performance, the arts, smoking cessation, weight loss, pain management, injury rehabilitation….The list is endless! QUESTIONS OR WANT TO GET STARTED? Call me at (585)-698-4905 OR E-mail...

Positive Psychology and Youth Development

Numerous researchers (Ryff & Keyes, 1995), Peterson, Park and Seligman (2005), and Keyes (2009) have found that young people reported having more developed feelings of emotional well-being than they did a sense of psycholical well-being.  Keyes’ central question became; “is it ok for children to feel happy, but rarely challenged, and frequently disconnected?” Keyes’ question is central to out times. He called for youth programs that both challenge (at the short-term expense of hedonic well-being) and support adolescents to grow. Academic achievement, community involvement, and good inter-personal relationships all require hard work and attention. We have seen from Flow Theory (see posting) that when one is passionate and absorbed in an activity, one becomes more excited and intrinsically motivated to pursue future goals. Research supports that the longer, and more frequent, an adolescent engages in an activity, the more resilient he or she becomes (Barber et al. 2009). Research on Positive Youth Developmemt (PYD) supports a strengths based approach to supporting adolescent growth potential. By focusing on strengths (as opposed to limitations) PYD programs have shown increase for adolescents in happiness, mental health, and academic success (wood, et al. 2011). Certainly, families, organizations and communities can support platforms that enable individual strengths to manifest. Research by Lerner (2007) indicates that the character strengths of competence, confidence, character, connection, and caring are central to adolescent well-being. In addition, Schmid et al. (2011) proved that utilizing the strengths of goal setting in combination with hope for the future, led to positive trajectories for middle school aged youth. The more we can offer young people appropriate challenges, and suppor them to grow, the...

Flow State Development

Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow Theory (1975, 1990) describes moment to moment subjective experience, defined by the relationship between person (perceived skills) and environment (perceived challenge) that is engaged in for the sole purpose of enjoyment. Achieving a flow state is the ultimate manfifestation of intrinsic motivation. Empirical research has proven that when entering a flow state, one not only produces positive emotions, but also experiences personal growth. Jackson and Marsh (1996) define the Flow Sate; 1. A balance exists between perceived skills and perceived challenge 2. The task has clear goals for the participant 3. There is a merging of action and awareness. This occurs moment to moment 4. One acts with deep, effortless involvement. As a resuly, worry and self-doubt are eliminated. 5. There is a sense of control over oneself and one’s environment 6. There is a loss of self-consciousness 7. There is full concentration on the task at hand From the above, we can see that it is important to place adolescents (students, athletes, people) in situations where they perceive their skill lvel matches the perceived demand of the task. Any deviation from this challenege/skill balance allows self-consciousness to enter into awareness, thus compromising performance and potentially limiting the quality of one’s experience. Csikszentmihalyi has also stated that experiencing a flow state creates meaning in individuals lives by allowing them to achieve purpose and, therefore, have a positive impact on their emerging self. Pete Thompson, Ed.S., BCC, is a board certified Life Coach and performance psychology practitioner. He works with adolescents and young adults throughout the United States....

Depth on Your Streamlines & Breakouts

Streamlines and breakouts comprise components four and five of your turning sequence. Keep in mind that the more efficient you are with the first three components, the better opportunity you have for a great component four and five. Another way to look at the streamline is underwater travel. So, the question becomes, ‘how can I maximize my underwater travel so that I go farhter, and do it faster, than my opponent?’ By using the following tips in practice, you will make this a reality. 1. Body alignment and body balance are essential tools for an effective streamline. Think of your body as an arrow- elongate your neck and spine and slightly round out your upper back. use the weight from your head to balance the weight of your hips, and your legs. 2. Keep your core tight! The tighter, the better. 3. Too much stretching with your arms, however, will be counter-productive as this will tend to throw your balance off a bit. Your arms hang naturally from your shoulders (when standing) at a slight bend. This is the bend you want for your streamline. 4. Every swimmer has an ideal depth with which they travel the furthest, and fastest. To find yours, you must experiment with various body depth off of your walls. Try coming off very shallow (not too good!) Then, try coming off the wall very deeply. (probably not too great either). Now that you know your ideal depth is somewhere in between shallow and deep, you can play around with it. Be sure to maintain proper balance, alignment and core tightness each time, and feel (and see) how...