“The only thing that matters is tonight. Klay has it figured out,” Kerr (Coach Steve Kerr) said earlier in the week. “None of the rest of us understands what’s truly important. We all spend our whole lives trying to get into the present. Klay is constantly in the present.
Thompson lives in the present, unless his present is a missed shot. Then, he lives in some alternate moment just beyond the now, when he gets to shoot again and the ball goes through the hoop.”
The comments above appeared in Saturday’s edition of the SFChronicle and once again deliver the message that FLOW happens when an athlete is entirely in the present. If an athlete worries about the outcome before the performance (shot, race, whatever) or after it then the chances of excellence go way down.
We led off today’s workout at the pool with this article. Then we said to the group that our workout today was designed to give them a chance to develop physical, mental and emotional toughness. We asked them to stay in the present and simply do their level best to do what is asked.
After a 2600 yard warmup we began. All the swims were 100 yards long and they all were on the 1:20. The swimmer chose stroke, kick, pull, use of paddles, snorkels, fins so long as each repeat in the group was the same. They were to use the clock for feedback about how well they were doing staying in the present, making each one the same. We regrouped after each set so they had a minute or so to rest up and choose what they wanted to do next. It was pretty interesting to watch them and listen to them. We did a lot of watching and listening and some individual stroke comments. Here’s the work:
2x100 (remember all repeats are on the 1:20)…then 3x100…then 4x100…then 6x100 (you should of heard “No, this is supposed to be 5x100” or “what about 5?”) just to keep them off balance…then 7x100…then 5x100…then 8x100…then 1x100 (“how can I keep this the same?”)…then 9x100…then 11x100…then 4x100 (“I know he’s going to slip in a round of 10 somewhere”)…then 3x100…then we finished with 2x100…
We then had everyone hop out, told them they did a fine job of “rolling with the punches” as it were…then said we just heard from the Admin Ref that each of them was in a swim-off and they had 1 more 100 to do…leaving on the top. The confused looks were worth the price of admission!
As they left the pool it seemed many had gone places they had not been before. One swimmer part way through the round of 11 had asked “please tell me where this is going”…we said “we know but we cannot tell you”. He was flummoxed to say the least. After workout he apologized for swearing…we smiled and said it hadn’t been the first time.
Swimmers – and all of us – like to know ahead of time what’s “going to happen next”. We think that possibly stifles FLOW.