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Being in Flow: the Mental and Physical Process

Just finished reading “Golf Flow,” and I recommend all 608 pages. After reviewing my highlighted passages and all past performances, I realized that when I really performed well, I was in flow.

The short definition is that when you are in flow, your mental process is in sync with your physical process. In other words, you are not in your own way.

I remember shooting with my first shooting/traveling partner Jim Jule, a left-handed pitcher in the minor leagues. He was always slow to walk and react, and I was the worrier and the fidgeter. For a whole year, he beat me by one bird at every tournament…every tournament. I finished second in so many shoots that year, but at the end of the year, I finally beat him by one bird and won the tournament with a 63/100 at Champion Lake Gun Club in Houston.

What I remember from that day was that I was in slow motion. Everyone was complaining about the difficulty of the targets and after traveling the country shooting tournaments for three years, I had learned to not worry about the difficulty of the targets. Just keep shooting and doing the best you can. Head down and plow straight.

As I began to think back about previous performances and compare what happened with what I highlighted in this book, I began to understand more about what the author was describing when he talked about flow. It’s is a state of mind and body that occurs when your thought process and your physical process are both in sync with each other and you are not trying to do anything. You are a participant, but you don’t have to try. You “just do it.” Where have you heard that before…?

What about the phrase “getting in your own way?” You get in your own way when your thought process or physical process is faster or slower than the other one. When your thought process is faster than your physical process, you are in the future. When your thought process is behind your physical process, you are in the past. The only time you are in the present is when your thought process and your physical process are in sync.

Vinny Hancock said it on the Coaching Hour when I asked him what his voices said to him when he was competing. His answer? “Mr. Ash, my voices agree that I am going to hit the target!” There it was. But I just did not click to it…

Your job when you practice is to be aware of your rhythm. And when you are shooting, remember what the rhythm is, because that is your optimal flow state. That is what you anchor to, to be in the present. So when you get up in the morning, find your rhythm and stay in it. Bob Palmer would call this “being congruent.” I agree, but it is more. It is controlled by actually slowing down and taking control of the only thing you can control, which is what you do. Everything at the tournament, both good and bad, will make you speed up.

Slow down! Where have you heard that before…?

I’ll be visiting this more on the next few blogs and the Coaching Hour next month. Oh, and by the way, read “Golf Flow” by Gio Valiante. We will be discussing this for a while. It’s a game-changer for me.