Archivio per il tag 'flow'

Recensione libro: Running flow

Running flow

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Philip Latter and Christine Weinkauff Duranso

Human Kinetics

2017, pp.189

As long distance runner I know very well the difficulties to maintain the focus on my run, refreshing in the same time the kind of mood which represents the positive background where to design the pleasure to run also when I am mentally and physically tired. So I learned that what happens in those is what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has called mental flow, the running flow.

For these reasons, I have been immediately captured by this book, Running flow, written by him with fellow psychologist Christine Weinkauff and running journalist and coach Philip Latter. It’s the first book devoted to this state of mind for runners, to learn how to reach and coach this mind condition and most important how to maintain it during the worst moments. Till some years ago, the flow experiences was studied only in the top level performances and it were described as something which happens spontaneously and difficult to replicate in a voluntary manner. Now we know, that it is something we can train through specific exercises not only to improve our performance but also, and maybe more important, to live more enjoyable experiences through the running.

“Flow refers to an optimal experience during which the mind and body work together while honed on a task. Flow is often associated with peak performance” (p.16). I remember when running 100km Ultramarathon “Il Passatore” I reached the 79°km and in that moment I started to think: “Ok; focus on the light of  your lamp in the road, and run till the end.”  I have had only this unique thought for the next 21km. For me this has been my flow experience. This is what it’s written in the book when the authors talk about the 9 components of flow (clear goals, challenge-skills balance, unambiguous feedback, focused attention, merging of action and awareness, sense of control, loss of self-consciousness, distortion of time and intrinsic motivation). The first four dimensions represent the flow antecedents and the other six the outcomes of the flow process.

In the book, it’s well explained that the flow state it comes out when the athletes live a condition of optimal self-control associated to an efficient arousal level.

Csikszentmihalyi and his colleagues describe five ways through which one athlete is able to cultivate one’s self into an autotelic person: set goals with a clear and immediate feedback, become immersed in the particular activity, be focused to what is happening in the here and now, learn to enjoy immediate experience and proportion one’s skills to the challenge at hand.

In my opinion the strength of this book is evidently to be applied to one specific sport (long distance running) but the stories of the athletes and the practical information the runners can find to improve their focus and running with this state of mind are absolutely important.





Sport giovanile: problemi e soluzioni

Lo sport giovanile sta diventando un problema e un articolo pubblicato sulla rivista del comitato olimpico americano aiuta a capire quali possono essere le ragioni e le eventuali proposte di soluzioni. Le riporto in una breve sintesi ma l’articolo di Christine M. Brooks (Summer 2016) è certamente più ampio e interessante da leggere.

  • C’è un tasso di abbandono elevato dallo sport in età pediatrica (fra il 2008 e il 2013 vi è stata fra i bambini 6-12 anni una riduzione di 2,5 milioni di praticanti nei sei sport tradizionali).
  • Gli allenatori organizzano, per i giovani, allenamenti con un livello d’intensità mai prima d’ora proposti, e che rappresentano la possibile causa di danni a lungo termine ai giovani atleti (il modello LTAD dovrebbe guidare gli allenatori nella costruzione di allenamenti adeguati allo sviluppo biologico dei bambini).
  • C’è un aumento di obesità infantile e dei problemi di salute successivi (negli USA il 19% e il 31% dei bambini e degli adolescenti sono obesi).
  • Il principio della piacevolezza si riferisce alla nozione di FLOW di Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, che spiega perché le persone traggono piacere da un’attività. Circa il 40% di atleti in età pediatrica, secondo un’indagine, afferma di avere abbandonato lo sport perché non si divertiva. Scopo dell’allenamento è di allenare gli atleti seguendo step di apprendimento piccoli e gestibili così da permettere di restare nella zona di FLOW. Le ricerche dimostrano che gli allenatori così formati riducono i livelli di ansia dei bambini e aumentano la loro autostima.
  • Il principio d’impegnarsi per migliorare permette di sollecitare gli atleti a impegnarsi per raggiungere il limite superiore del loro potenziale genetico e restare nella zona di FLOW. Se sono fuori dal FLOW, è teoricamente impossibile motivare alla pratica e all’impegno e pertanto i progressi verso lo sviluppo del proprio potenziale genetico non verrà raggiunto.
  • Il principio dell’allenamento appropriato va di pari passo con lo sviluppo e la maturazione del giovane. Il modello LTAD si propone di integrare questi due aspetti con l’appropriata complessità e intensità del comportamento motorio dell’allenamento.
  • Il principio di non determinare danni è alla base dell’allenamento. In US quattro milioni di giovani in età scolare s’infortunano ogni anno mentre fanno sport. La ragione è anche in parte attribuibile allo stress imposto al corpo che è ancora immaturo dal punto di vista della coordinazione e dell’equilibrio.


Recensione libro: Golf Flow

Golf Flow

Master you mind, master the course

Gio Valiante,

Human Kinetics, 2013, p. 228 

In the title is already explained the goal the golfer has to achieve: let flow the mind and the shot will be good. The author, Gio Valiante was named one of the 40 most influential under-40 people in golf  by Golf Magazine and in this book he talks about flow not only from the theoretical point of view but also from the side of the PGA golfer experiences.

Reading Golf Flow we understand the mental side of golf. It could seem obvious because every person knows that golf is a mental game but here we find explained in which way  this happen; in which way the golfers use their time, practice the control, tune the effort and develop the awareness regarding the performance.  Valiante provides a great deal of current research  and he is never trivial when providing his advices. The amateur golfers reading this book will find many ideas to start their mental practice.

In my opinion the best part of Golf Flow is that one regarding the current top PGA pros, who talk through the author about their mental flow state, saying how much it permitted them to cope under pressure. This book may give the competitive golfers another tool to take their game to their highest level. The amateur golfers will find useful information coming from different top golfers and  from these different persons and experiences they can find that one is better for them.  The many professional insights about his work with the top golf are like this one:

“As it happens for many golfers, Justin’s instinct told him to go into Sunday and to be aggressive right to get-go. The details vary from golfer to golfer, but the philosophy is a cowboy version of golf that goes something like this: “Fire at every flag, go for par fives in two, be aggressive on every putt, and throw all strategy, patience, and ball placement to wind. I asked Justin to do the opposite and let patience and discipline define the round by using the first few holes to establish the rhythm of his routine.”

The book is full of these experiences and for this reason I believe that it’s very useful for the golfer of every level and for the coaches and sport psychologists who want to know better the mental side of the golf.