PART 5: KNOWING WHERE YOU’RE GOING
With no direction, it can be hard to tune in and enjoy the ride. An outline, a plan, or even a rough idea of where you want to go allows you to stop worrying about the unknowns and fully take in the experience.
This can be as simple as looking up at a face and plotting your line, but premeditation runs much deeper in our progression and development in sport.
On a very basic level, you wouldn't go into the mountains without consulting a map, but that same premeditated planning should be given to all aspects of your sport.
This includes physical and mental preparation as well as knowing your routes for the day. To reach flow we need to be completely ready for the task or ride ahead and remove anything that might cause concern and throw our attention.
Setting Goals The Right Way
There are two types of goals: task goals and outcome goals. Task goals are more conducive to flow and are usually about improving personal performance, like smoother turns or cleaner landings.
Outcome goals are more ego driven and focus on beating a competitor or placing highly in a contest. Both goals are good motivators, but outcome goals alone can often prevent us from getting in flow.
We need to set goals just above our current performance levels. If we set goals too high, we might not even come close to achieving them, which can be more detrimental to our development than never having any goals to start with.
By creating a series of goals, we maintain motivation, which is key to feeling confident and being psychologically ready for what lays ahead. Remember, flow is a mental state that requires our mind and body to be working on an almost automatic level.
Physical and Mental Preparation
There’s a direct correlation between being physically and mentally prepared. Naturally, we need a certain level of fitness in order to maintain stamina and execute tricks, or navigate treacherous terrain. Knowing, or at least believing we have the fitness required instills great confidence.
However, we still need to be mentally prepared and have plans in place to help us deal with spontaneous challenges that might arise.
If the snow pack is looser in a section, if a drop is larger than anticipated, if a landing is tracked out, all these scenarios require us to think quickly on our feet and if we have preempted certain situations we will deal with them more fluidly.
If for instance we can feel too much friction on our skis or snowboard, we might choose to put in fewer turns to allow us to gather more speed and traverse a flat section.
This kind of understanding comes through time and experience, but once the knowledge has been acquired, we can make these small adjustments without thinking.
Once we know exactly where we are going, we can give in to the process. This removes cause for concern or worry, and we are much more likely to slip into that elusive, but all-important flow state we strive for.