Over the last 3 months, we have posted 4 fitness for ski instructor training sessions every week. Encouraging you to push harder never quit and embrace the suck. The sessions have been intense and in some cases have embraced the mantra what does not kill you makes you stronger. Our posts have even had motivational images and videos encouraging you to not give up, to take one more step. On the snow coaches will do similar things, but what if it does not always make you stronger?
We will all have had those days were we feel invincible, pushing ourselves harder and harder, no will not suffice. Each run, each rep feels perfect. This is known as a flow state, you feel like a real life super hero and you have one focus.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi a renowned psychology professor has boiled down the 10 components that we need for this feeling, this invincibility. As coaches we can use this to get the best from our athletes to create performances that are exceptional.
1. Clear goals: Expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one’s skill set and abilities. Moreover, the challenge level and skill level should both be high.
2. Concentration: A high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention.
3. A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness: The merging of action and awareness.
4. Distorted sense of time: One’s subjective experience of time is altered.
5. Direct and immediate feedback: Successes and failures are apparent, so behaviour can be adjusted as needed.
6. Balance between ability level and challenge: The activity is neither too easy nor too difficult.
7. A sense of personal control over the situation.
8. The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so action is effortlessness.
9. A lack of awareness of bodily needs.
10. Absorption: narrowing of awareness down to the activity itself.
For any athlete there is no better high, it is in this state that those eurotest passing, BASI 4 tech smashing performances are born. As a coach achieving this is ultimate goal, you will create athletes that would run through a wall if you told them too.
But coaches can push too hard, stoke the fire too hot and end up with athletes who are burnt out and tired. In fact if you use the above incorrectly a coach can quickly become an athletes biggest kryptonite.
Good coaches will know when to hold you back as well as push you forward. They will understand that what you do immediately after, 5 hours after and that night after training can be as important as training itself.
But as intrinsically motivated athletes we also all need to learn that more bumps runs, more squats, more intervals, more shorts, more slalom may not mean more success. The same can be said for mind as well as body, you need to stay fresh, you need to stay happy and you need to remember why you chose this career path in the first place.
We all need to understand that training should have a purpose, be challenging but not hard, to listen to our bodies and to harness the inner Superhero for moments when it counts, not everyday in the bumps when the only person to prove anything to is yourself.