Flow in SportsA psychological edge for athletes
The Keys to Optimal Experiences and Performances
Have you ever seen or heard of a history making sporting moment? Chances are the successful athlete was in a state of complete flow at the time of it happening. Although physical training plays a significant role in the performance of every athlete, mental preparation and the ability to focus attention while performing can enhance both performance potential and personal satisfaction.
I have worked with a diverse range of sports, and with athletes from developmental to elite stage. My work is evidence-based, and a key aspect of my work is to facilitate athletes (and coaches) developing a skillset for greater awareness and focus. I help athletes manage worries, problems, and distractions, to enable focus to be directed totally onto performance. I also work with motivation, and believe that enjoyment is essential to sport participation at all levels.
I have found in sport some of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. I spent my younger years taking in every sport experience I could find. I loved to run, and medalled at All-Schools & State Championships during my high school years in Sydney, and at Australian University Games during my first uni degree in human movement education at the University of Sydney, where I was awarded a Blue for my athletic achievements. I also loved to swim, and turned to triathlons during the mid 80s in Sydney, and then again in the early 90s in the USA while studying at UNC – Greensboro. Sport has always been a passion for me, whether individual or team, and it is where I have found fun, freedom, and flow.
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Flow is one of the richest, most memorable experiences an athlete will ever know. In her book, Flow in Sports, Dr Sue Jackson teams up with pioneering legend Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi to explain the phenomenon of flow and identify the key conditions associated with its occurrence.
Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi developed the concept of flow in the mid-1970s and has pioneered research on the subject in work, social, and educational settings ever since. He has published many best selling books on flow, including the ground-breaking Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, and Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life. Csikszentmihalyi is Professor of Management at Claremont Graduate University in California, USA.
During graduate studies in sport psychology in North America in the late 80’s, Sue discovered the flow concept through Csikszentmihalyi’s writings. Her fascination with flow led her to conduct her PhD on understanding the flow experience in elite athletes. Teaming up with her mentor on flow, Csikszentmihalyi, Sue co-authored Flow in Sports to help explain what flow is and how to get there.