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Were the England football players in flow?

June 28, 2010

With the massive football World Cup interest and what appears to be the happiness of many around the world dependant  on the success of their nation’s football team, I was reminded of Csikszentmihalyi’s theory of flow and how actively participating in an activity (in any aspect of our lives e.g. work, leisure, sport) is far more likely to produce feelings of engagement and fulfilment than being a passive observer.   

In sport flow is sometimes referred to as being ‘in the zone’ and is key to peak experiences and/or peak performances.  I absolutely love experiencing flow, whether it be in my work as a business coach and sport psychologist, in the sports I’ve practiced (paragliding, sailing, cycling, etc)  or in any of my leisure time activities. 

However given the England football team’s poor record at the 2010 Football World Cup I’m left wondering why so many are content to put control of their happiness switch in the hands of a few overpaid and underperforming football players, and…. more interestingly which of the following 9 elements that contribute to creating ‘flow’, the players did or did not experience:

  1. having the right balance between challenge and skills
  2. body and mind are working automatically
  3. having clear goals
  4. receiving unambiguous feedback
  5. Concentration on the task in hand
  6. Sense of control
  7. Loss of self-consciousness, i.e. totally absorbed in what you are doing
  8. Transformation of time – i.e. so absorbed you don’t notice time passing
  9. Enjoying the moment

Do let me know what you think?

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