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Flow.......

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Saw this over on mtbr, was curious on how it relates to skiing. One definition of flow is when everything in skiing is on "autopilot." Where you don't think about what you are doing, but it just happens. Feel like discussing this?
post #2 of 25
There is a great book by Susan Jackson called Flow State in Sports. I actually wrote a bit about the challenge/skill factor that is necessary for an athlete to achieve flow state. Basically, the athlete should be engaged in an activity that is challenging enough to be exciting, but not so challenging to cause anxiety.
post #3 of 25
To me, it's similar to being comfortably in love, a state where you're relaxed enough, but also alert enough, to let the motor parts of your brain perform optimally given your current levels of skill and terrain. For skiers, one example would be almost joyfully moving over your skis and temporarily getting that "diving board," almost weightless, feeling, knowing that your skis will work for you as you move into the new turn and the "control" feeling of being inside your skis will be returned to you. So you relax and let it happen, turn after turn, rather than having the executive part of your brain try to demand a "guarantee" and screw things up by holding your COM back.

How to produce that state reliably is a different story, I think pre-run rituals help me a lot, but it still doesn't happen reliably, just enough.
post #4 of 25
CTKook.... when I'm in a state of flow I would never notice the smaller stuff (like moving over skis).... my focus is such that I am in a situation where only the "big picture" has effect on me.... eg where I want to be going to... and maybe the rhythm of the movement(because the timing sort of plays into the going part).... any individual motions are subsumed into the whole... This is why it is easier to do things... because the micro level control is being dealt with... so all the rest seems slooooooowwww...
post #5 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTKook View Post
To me, it's similar to being comfortably in love, a state where you're relaxed enough, but also alert enough, to let the motor parts of your brain perform optimally given your current levels of skill and terrain. For skiers, one example would be almost joyfully moving over your skis and temporarily getting that "diving board," almost weightless, feeling, knowing that your skis will work for you as you move into the new turn and the "control" feeling of being inside your skis will be returned to you. So you relax and let it happen, turn after turn, rather than having the executive part of your brain try to demand a "guarantee" and screw things up by holding your COM back.

How to produce that state reliably is a different story, I think pre-run rituals help me a lot, but it still doesn't happen reliably, just enough.
Nice observations, especially about being simultaneously relaxed and alert
post #6 of 25
It only happens to me on the highest level just a few times a season. I still flash on a partial run about 10 years ago when time and space merged and I actually could ski "anything" for a very brief period. It appears that Karma Yoga does work because that had to be a glimpse of Nirvana.

"The faster you go the rounder you get." Grateful Dead

May the force be with you!
post #7 of 25

Funny tie to mtn. biking

I agree that flow is the effortless state of awareness that allows one feel "at one" with the terrain. Without physical well-being, confidence, and mental alertness it can be difficult to reach/stay in that moment. Sometimes, I can get there without the alertness part (i.e. hung over), but rarely without the first 2. I get there easier when I don't care about what others think, too (which is easier said than done).

When I first started mt. biking, I was very comfortable with speed and my ability to "look ahead" for obstacles b/c of skiing, but I didn't have the skills to match the speed. So, the "flow" part of mt. biking seemed great; until I crashed. I learned over time...

It doesn't matter what you're doing; it matters how you feel about doing it. Sort of like the song, "Express Yourself":

"It's not what you look like, when you're doing what you're doing. It's what you're doing when you're doing what it looks like you're doing. Express yourself!..."
post #8 of 25
Its like martial arts. You do not think about your next move you just respond.

Many things in life are like that. When I'm riding my motorcycle on a twisty road I'm not thinking so much as I'm reacting to the road conditions.

Though one could argue that sometimes "flow" could be the result of doing the same thing over and over to the point that it becomes routine.

How many of you drive home from work every night, taking the same roads, exits, turns and I bet many don't even think to make that right hand turn, you just make it. We are all creatures of habbit.
post #9 of 25
Finding the flow is like being in the zone, when everything is connected and working in concert. The equipment, the mind, body, weather, mountain, & snow texture all flow together. I find it in every activity I'm involved in, whether it is a sport, working on a mathematical equation, writing, playing an instrument, making love etc.. The key is to find a trigger that will get you to that state... Easier said than done.
Now, if I could just get in my golf swing once in awhile!
post #10 of 25
a blip re: flow

http://64.233.187.104/search?q=cache...s&ct=clnk&cd=2

"YOU, THE PERSON, don't make any decisions, don't make any movements. You turn it over to your skis to react to the snow."

sometimes being a little above the ceiling of my comfort level will push me into a state of something i'll call flow.
the heightened attention to everything will actually chase obstructive thought away, particularly once i'm committed to a line.

a little herb has yet to hurt the cause, either.
post #11 of 25
I find flow a whole lot easier to obtain on a bike than on skis. I recall that thread on MTBR, and with mountain biking it's more related to the flow of the trail. You don't need to think nearly as much on a bike as you do on skis, because the act of riding a bike is a lot more natural than skiing. That said, I agree with others about flow when skiing. Everything seems to run in slow motion, and it's effortless. You get a chance to take it all in. When it's not flowing, everything is moving way too quick because you're trying to think about every little thing, and you almost get tunnel vision.
post #12 of 25
John I'm not sure that riding a bike is more natural than skiing, that is a personal thing that is probably tied to personal experience and length of time doing either.

Flow, when it comes to biking, usually refers to a combination of cyclist AND terrain. Trails have 'flow' or 'have no flow'. You can 'find your flow' on a trail by becoming in sync with it. I feel that what a lot of people are describing is 'Zone' that feeling of being a spectator as your body performs at it's peak. One feeling is internal (zone) and one is an interaction between internal and terrain (flow).

I feel that 'flow' as applied to skiers involves what has been described as thoughtless performance COMBINED WITH finding a 'natural rhythm' of the terrain. Many skiers make a certain turn shape and impose it on all terrain, this is not flow. Flow involves reading the terrain and 'going with it', a slight difference between zone and flow but I feel it is an important distinction.
post #13 of 25
"flow" sounds an awful lot like "being in the zone"...
post #14 of 25
you can have 'flow' and not be in the zone. This happens to good skiers and boarders all the time. Flow is a natural state for very good riders, you just go with the terrain/ snow/ feel. It doesn't have to feel special, it's normal, it jusy looks effortless.

The zone is something special, you remember that 'perfect run' from 10yrs ago. An athlete like Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan would be able to pick out times they were in 'the zone' throughout their careers. It's that rare even for world class athletes.

How often do you see a, lets say ski instructor, linking near perfect short radius turns down the fall line. Down a steep pitch tic-toc. Out onto the flats after that pitch, same turn, tic-toc. On and on to the bottom like a metronome. That isn't flow. The skier could be in the zone but that isn't flow. that is my opinion, yours may very well vary.
post #15 of 25
Sorry - do not believe being in the zone is as rare as you say.... I've been there at least 3 times in the 5 years or so i fenced... (maybe a couple more... but I know 3 better fencers I got hits on I should not have been able to touch - and they all happened in super slomo and I was not directing but they happened as i had planned)

and a few times when skiing (only been skiing 10 seasons)...

and I (mostly) ski in a state of extreme anxiety... only the last few years at home I have not been quite terrified...
extreme anxiety is counter productive to getting into the zone...

It does require an ability to focus... because you sort of focus hard.. and then don't focus... and then if you are lucky you are there...
post #16 of 25
Thats THREE hits in five years, you would consider that 'not rare'??

I think 'zone' is different for eveyone, or more to the point, "above and beyond the performance you would normally expect from yourself." I wasn't trying to infer that only the most elite athletes experience it, just that the moments are rare and you always remember when it happens.
post #17 of 25
I'm disabled... totally non-athletic.... i spend more time fretting than focusing.... 3 hits in 5 years is pretty often compared to few enough to remember all in a professional sporting career...
post #18 of 25
I "flow" often on skis. After awhile something suddenly bumps me back into reality. Like a sudden mogul or a boarder sitting in the middle of the slope. Or maybe it's just daydreaming about skiing while skiing.
post #19 of 25

Flow

Icanseeformiles. I hate to be a plagarist but stealing from NOLO. Flow is being connected-when all my moves are connected it seems as if "flow" would be a good description of my movements over the snow.

Is this the same as "in the zone"? I'd say similar but not the same. An accomplished athlete can flow with his/her movement/environment when connected movement gives them a sensation of flow with their bike, ski's, running, swimming or even flycasting. Being in "the zone" is taking this accomplishment to another plane of excellence and sensation. The zone doesn't necessarily have to be in sports (although that is the accepted definition). Can a negotiator, salesman, or a brain surgeon be in this zone. Well sure they can. Being in the flow is rewarding and sensually gratifying but b eing in the zone is when one reaches another plateau, sometimes beyond his/her normal capabilities or when he or she reaches the top of their training and experience.
post #20 of 25

1 step away

if you are naming it, you are already one step away from the experience
post #21 of 25
What about those of us who don't want to be mindlessly "in the zone?" I love being scared shitless before dropping into something new; I want to be be constantly searching for a new line while I'm on it; I love dealing with the unexpected. "Flow" doesn't sound like much fun.
post #22 of 25

Flow

618, Quite the contrary. It would like be comparing sex and skiing, can one be like the other. Maybe depends on the partner and the snow and the Flow.
post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete No. Idaho View Post
618, Quite the contrary. It would like be comparing sex and skiing, can one be like the other. Maybe depends on the partner and the snow and the Flow.
upon reding my original post, it works awfully well for sex too. I guess I'm a fan of spontanaeity.
post #24 of 25
I think people are talking about several different things:

the hieghtened awareness that occasionally happens in extreme stress situations,

the "effortless effort" that can happen when you mind is freed from the direct command of your movements, and

the magic of harmonizing your movements with the environment so that everything just flows smoothly together beautifully without any jerkiness, trouble, or need for correction.

Let me add out of body experience where you appear to be viewing the event form an upper corner while still controlling everything to within a fraction of an inch and feeling everything (about 3 decades ago doing about 100 mph over the reccommended corner speed on Healey's corner).
post #25 of 25
Forgive the following psychology ramble, but if anyone is interested in the "Flow state", check out "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience" or "Finding Flow" by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (a psychologist out of the U of Chicago). His research originated the term.

As for flow relating to skiing - the more "in the zone" the better: the flow state is not unlike situations where a person loses the sense of time and space while engaging in a favorite activity. The principle is that when high degrees of challenge correspond with high degrees of comptence/skill, then the flow state occurs. Sounds like a good pow day on the steeps to me!
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