PART 6: TAKING ADVANTAGE OF FEEDBACK
We look at chapter six of Flow In Sports and learn how sensory feedback can help us access the flow state.
When we talk about feedback, we are focusing on information that can help us assess our performance. Often, if we can tune into this feedback in real-time, we have the opportunity to make adjustments accordingly and continue, or even better, our performance in the near future.
However, rather than searching for a trusted coach or sports analyst, we can actually get incredibly reliable feedback much closer to home.
Our bodies have a natural way of telling us how we are performing, but with sport delivering sensory overload, knowing which feedback to tune into can sometimes prove difficult.
The examples given in Flow In Sports demonstrate kinesthetic awareness in sports like basketball and gymnastics.
Just as a gymnast has a feel of where she is in space as she performs aerial moves, so too does the basketball player who knows exactly when to jump when she takes a rebound shot.
Kinesthetic awareness is also sometimes referred to as ‘muscle memory’ and is built on repetition to the point that we know exactly how a certain movement should feel.
At this point we know when something doesn't feel quite right and can begin looking at ways to correct our movement and get it feeling good again.
For example, if you brush your teeth and it feels sore, we know that’s not how it should feel, and make the adjustment to brush softly to counteract any pain.
If we know how a deep powder turn should feel, we also know when our equipment is sticking or if we have buried our edges in too deep and therefore make the appropriate adjustments to counteract this. The key here is knowing what feels right, and which sensory feedback to listen to.
Negative Feedback Does Not Mean Failure
If something doesn't feel right and our performance is not as it should be, this doesn’t mean things are going to get worse. If we catch an edge, or take a fall on a run, this is our cue to make adjustments.
This negative feedback can help us to align our skills to the current environment we find ourselves in. As we know, terrain and mountain conditions can vary throughout the day, if not the minute, and our technique may have to be adjusted to account for snow depth, patches of ice, visibility or wind.
When we face these minor setbacks, we make onboard adjustments and it’s our faith in our abilities, that self confidence in our skills, that helps us to keep moving forward without concern or worry. However, it’s important to listen to the feedback our body gives us and make sensible judgments.
If we begin to feel fear, our body might start to tighten up and be unable to move in the ways it needs to and in critical situations this could be dangerous.
Being Self Aware
Let’s not confuse this with self-consciousness. Self-consciousness is when we look at ourselves as if from the outside, or from a third person perspective.
This is detrimental to flow and means we are operating much less intuitively. Being self-aware however, means we aren’t thinking about the self at all and are processing the sensory feedback, listening to our body, paying attention to how it feels and making adjustments accordingly.
Self-awareness is about paying attention to all the feedback your body is giving you, and key to getting in flow.