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Five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant, renowned not only for his outstanding physical ability and basketball prowess but for his absolute focus and “Mamba mentality”, had reported on his experience with Flow on several occasions.
“It’s hard to describe. You just feel so confident. You get your feet set and get a good look at the basket—it's going in. Even the ones I missed I thought were going in."
He went on to share that...
“everything becomes one noise” and that “you don’t think about the surroundings”.
An expert on extreme focus and optimum mindset, Kobe had excelled in increasing his propensity to achieve Flow. Therefore, he frequently achieved moments of peak performance, more so than his opponents. However, even Kobe Bryant struggled to maintain it, stating that “you can lose it in a second”.
In elite sport, the difference between winning and losing is often dependent on whether the athlete can reach their peak physical and technical performance when they need to, and under immense pressure. At the pinnacle of the sport, athletes train at their maximum ability day in and day out. They have access to the latest technology and training based on biomechanical perfection. These are undoubtedly advantages, but they do not define whether one becomes a champion or chokes.
The factor which truly defines athletic performance is often the ability to remain absolutely focused, and limit the mental barriers in between your ability and execution. An ability to focus on performance when distractions want to inhibit your execution.
When you can control your racing thoughts and attain absolute psychological absorption on the task at hand, your performance is ultimately greatly enhanced because there is more available attentional bandwidth in which to make decisions and execute.
During heightened states of contreation , you may also experience an effortless ease in your movements and an intrinsically rewarding sensation throughout the activity, regardless of the outcome of your performance. When these elements of deep concentration and a fluidity of action come together, it is highly rewarding, highly memorable. Indeed, many people refer to this mental state as being in the “zone”, however, in the scientific world it is referred to as the ‘Flow’ state.
When we take a look at our physiology, optimal functioning in Flow seems to be inevitable.