4 Phases of Flow / Golf performance / Flow Golf Podcast TV Episode #24

We’re back again, another episode of the Flow Golf Podcast. In today’s episode I really want to talk about what we call the four phases of flow. We cover things like motivation, work ethic, struggle, but also recovery and all those different components because ultimately they’re all valuable when it comes to high performance over a long period of time.

And that’s what we know we want to achieve. That’s what all our listeners want to achieve and what we want to help everyone achieve that takes the time to engage with all our resources. So just to go through those four phases of flow and just to kind of open the world up to all of our listeners, we have this flow build up face.

The flow build up phase is actually a struggle. The frustration is increasing cortisol levels. It’s getting a bit stressed. It’s getting a bit tiring. It’s getting worn out. I’m getting fatigued. You need that struggle in order to actually create high performance, in order to move towards flow. 

But with this whole world of hustle culture, which we definitely have had in on YouTube, in podcasts, in various different places, a lot of people, what they don’t do is they don’t stop that struggle.

They don’t stop that grind. They don’t stop that hustle. And we have to understand that in order to move into this flow gain phase, which is the second bit, we have to take that step back. We have to move more into a kind of a more recovery place, the more relaxed place we have to transition to a place where we can go into meditations, where we can reflect and all that kind of thing.

So that allows us to move up that flow gang phase and ultimately move to where we want to be, which is flow peak. Flow peak is our optimal state of performance. That’s when we are in flow. So if we want to create that space, we need to know that actually both struggle and recovery, both struggle and the kind of taking a step back, the relaxation are a key component of that.

And then, of course, after the flow peak, we never stay there forever. As much as we’d like to, we don’t move into this flow transition phase. And in that flow transition phase, again, we need to ensure that we have rejuvenating energy that we’ve used up. We need to ensure that we’re again going into recovery mode before we move back to that struggle phase.

We start the cycle again. So we speak a lot about this in flowcode. Rick, I’d love to hear your thoughts because I think one of the things that a lot of people struggle with is understanding how and when to use recovery and how and when to use this kind of struggle or this work ethic, this motivation that is required for success, because both are really important.

Definitely. So I’m going to go on some different paths here. But if we look at golfers on a shot, two shot basis, right, and you and I teach a pre shot routine, I did a paper on this a couple of years ago where I was looking at how do we create this this these flow stages within a pre shot routine now pretty short routine, maybe 30 to 60 seconds long.

And what I found interesting about the research was that when you first get to your ball in the fairway, it’s the second shot. Believe it or not, there is a little struggle of what is this, right? How far is it away? We have to think about it. We have to make a decision. We might get stressed because.

Oh, my. And so that’s a good thing, right? Look, let’s embrace that. This is a problem to be solved and for us to embrace that not like, oh, crap, I don’t think I can do this right. And that when we start to build up now to where we finally are going to execute a golf shot in a full present moment, absorbed into it, which we’re going to call more of the peak within those 15, 20, 30 seconds, you have to mobilize resources to be able to do that.

And when I say resources as there’s cognitive resources, a focus, there is going to be actual energy that’s needed right now for some of us that may have 72 shots per round, some may have 90, 90, 100, whatever. That cycle is occurring a lot. Now, that’s a many, many, many cycle. Right. But you and I have talked a lot about the post shot routine that let’s somebody hit a poor shot now.

They get mad, they get frustrated, they get angry. They get now their whole system has adrenaline and cortisol and all these things that are not going to be too good as we get to the next shot. 

And if there is no outlet for that, we’re going to get into a burned out stage pretty quickly on a golf course, even though golf doesn’t require on a shot, two shot basis a ton of energy because, you know, we’re not like jumping around and stuff like that, but you start to compile it throughout a round of golf.

And if you don’t do little post shot routines to reset for recovery, you are going to sap away your mental cognitive energy for the next shot and the next shot and the next shot. So on a mini version, on each pre shot routine there has a slight struggle phase, there’s a release phase, there’s a focus, Hey, I’m ready to go.

And then we’ve got to now recover. Not many people have good shot routines. Not many people utilize the time in between shots to maybe just look at nature and take some breaths and be able to reset a system. So in the short term on the golf course, you are ebbing and flowing a lot with this flow.

Now, when we look at the big picture, like I’m going to go practice for an hour, okay? And again, me being a swing coach also, I want you to struggle. I want you to have a clear intention. Hey, Rick, I’m going to work on my dispersion with my driver. My driver is going to the left too much. I’m going to work on Club Face right now.

I’m going to do these drills and you have a clear goal and it doesn’t mean the first few are going to go dead straight. There is going to be some struggle. But for you to utilize that, to want to keep working through it and working through it is a skill. And then like on the and then like on the 20th one maybe hit this awesome.

When you go, Oh, I got it, I got it right. But some of the research I’ve seen is that once we get to a struggle, struggle, struggle, struggle, there has to be some kind of an outlet where you can let it go, okay? And it might be your struggle on the range. Struggle on the range. And then you finally just say, Hey, I’m going to take a breath.

I’m going to look out in the distance. I’m going to take a three minute. Just break. Okay. And then what happens is that when you look at when you re-engage with this next driver swing, that you refresh yourself a little bit more and then you hit a great chango. Oh, that’s where it was at. Right. So struggle has to have some form of a release at a point, and then we can help get you into a flow state more often.

So that’s a mini version with that. But let’s embrace struggle, let’s embrace that. That’s going to help us have a feedback loop. The feedback loops are going to get us closer to our goal and we keep pushing forward. Yet there’s that balancing act of work ethic and trying harder and all that stuff. And then how much energy does that take from you and do you have a system to be able to reset or we call it recovery.

Not everybody does that.

Absolutely not. Completely agree. And I think that’s so important to understand that these waves, all these flows are happening constantly in both micro situations but also macro situations across the season, for example.

So you need to be aware of this and you need to be conscious of how long have I been in the struggle? Am I now ready to release? Am I ready to do more parasympathetic activities, like you say, taking a breath, going for a walk, clearing your mind. The same when it comes to the more macro situations of your tournament.

When you’re mapping out your schedule, how many tournaments am I going to play? Am I going to give myself that opportunity to release? Because tournaments can be a struggle back to back, traveling, going from location to location, the mental energy that’s required. So you need to be able to implement and kind of match this framework into all different situations, both micro and macro.

Exactly. So let’s say on a weekly basis, a PGA Tour player or a professional golfer, they’re on site for a long time, even before they hit their first tee shot on a Thursday. I have witnessed some players where they’re utilizing massage and certain therapeutic techniques and cold therapy and saunas and meditation and stuff. That is a form of recovery day to day, day to day.

So they’re not depleting energy. They’re either recovering back to a standard line or they’re actually increasing their energy output as the week goes on. So that’s on a week to week basis. And then you mentioned you have a lot of players. You know, you and I work with a lot of players who are playing. In any event they can get in and for and then they like to play seven weeks in a row and they wonder why week six and seven weren’t very good.

Well, I mean, you never recovered. And that’s you just struggling. Struggle, struggle, struggle. And that gets us in the way. But on the other side of this, which I wanted to talk a little bit about, was I think we now have tools that are measuring recovery. They’re measuring output, they’re measuring sleep patterns. Right? We have woohp, we have something called an aura ring.

And I now know every single morning how my sleep pattern was and how ready I am for that day. And it will be helpful every now and then. Hey, maybe you should take a break here. Maybe you should take a walk. Maybe you should, you know. Great. Okay. 

But what I’ve seen when people now are utilizing the technology is they’re I think they’re saying, oh, this is saying that I should recover, which means maybe I won’t play golf for five, six, seven days.

I’m going to recover. I’m going to it’s like and then they come back and they’re rusty and then they don’t play well and then they get mad. It’s like you just putting the clubs in the corner is not recovery. Okay, you could take a break every now and then. You want to reboot your motivational system because, hey, you miss it.

Great. But I’ve seen a lot of competitive players who are getting into a what I call over recovery phase for the wrong reason. Well, I’m going to take a break from golf and then it’s a week long or two weeks. I’m like, you didn’t touch a club for that whole time? Well, no. I want to take a break.

I’m going. Good luck. Because now everybody else has been competing and practicing. Take a couple of days off or, hey, I’m just going to hit wedges today and I’m going to do some massage. I do some stretching. I think of it as, again, the big picture of performance. But I think people think of recovery as an on-off switch too much.

I’m going to be completely off. It’s like, no, a lot of recovery is actually active recovery. It’s actually doing a late walk. It’s like doing some things to change your system around a little bit. So I think people are misunderstanding sometimes that the recovery ideas are a little too much.

Definitely one one word got put in front of so many things and I think it’s important. Is the word intentional? And I speak to so many people about this. You can go lists and lists of different places that it’s valuable but intentional relationships. 

You can talk about intentional practice, you can talk about intentional recovery. And I think so many people, again, they fall into this dangerous place of recovery, not being intentional.

It’s just like, oh, I’m going to put the clubs away. Okay, well, what was the intention there? Why are you picking the clubs? Why are you even recovering? What rejuvenates you? Are you trying to get back to this place where you can then put yourself back through, struggle back into this release, back into flow? Is there an intention behind what you’re doing?

And we can talk about it every morning. Is there an intention behind the shot that you’re hitting we can talk about in so many different situations? So I think that’s really vital for people to ask the question, am I recovering intentionally? Because if the answer is no, then there’s definitely something that can be improved.

No question. And I love what you said, because when we look at flow, we do know there are stages and we do know there’s intention with each stage. And if I have people say, hey, I want you to go to the practice area knowing you’re going to struggle, there’s an intention of, hey, let’s bring it on.

And if I hit some bad shots, hey, I’m going to learn from it. I’m going to work through this. There’s an intention of just struggling, right? I think people want to avoid struggle. And then now too often they want to just get into recovery mode because that’s safe, that’s there. So it’s like, no, no, no, no. All of these things are important.

Sitting on the beach, sipping a pina colada that would do.

Though. And that’s up to you and I am going to talk about in future episodes the flow cycle and the importance of a struggle, the importance of a release phase, the importance of that peak max flow state. 

And then, yes, there is recovery, but it’s not like we said, we joke about being on the beach. It’s the little things that can recharge your system or you and I have talked about where, you know, I can have my cell phone and throughout the day it will deplete the battery.

I hope you plug it in at night. I hope you plug it in maybe throughout the day to recharge it. We’re just asking people to recharge the battery. It doesn’t mean you have to turn off the whole phone. Okay, so let’s recharge a little bit better with that.

I think just to add to that, a lot of people misunderstand what actually can help you recover and what can help that battery level. Go back to the top. I’ve talked about this in the past, but I throw myself into things that give me energy rather than draining me of energy. So some people would say that actually doing, I don’t know, two, 3 hours of client sessions where you’re supposed to be recovering.

You’ve been quite tired lately, so you shouldn’t do those sessions. Well, you know what? Actually, they bring me more energy than what they remind me of. So I actually feel more energized when I do those sessions than when I don’t do them. 

So by me saying I’m going to recover and sit on the couch and watch TV, the chances are I’m going to feel more drained from doing that than I am engaging with my client sessions and working on things that I’m passionate about.

So again, that’s something for people to become aware of. So self-awareness thing, we bang on about this all the time and people might get bored of it but understand yourself, understand what brings you energy and what drains you of energy. 

And it’s not always recovery is not always. SAT on the couch watching your favorite Netflix show. It can sometimes be things that people would consider quite energy sapping quite directly, but actually they’re bringing me more energy than what they’re draining.

You’re going in exactly. Exercising. Perfect example. Again, it happens to me so many times. I do this class at the gym almost three times a week and as many times before I get to the class, I’ve had a busy day and I’m thinking I’m drained, I’m tired, but I know because I’ve done it so many times. I come out of that class with a completely new lease of life, completely.

My energy levels are back through the roof. But actually I’ve just done 45 minutes of pretty high intensity exercise and more energy after that when I started. How does that work? Again, to understand what brings us energy and what drains this energy? And it can be.

So you love it? I love it, yeah. So I think the last thing that we can talk about is to talk about struggle and we can look at work ethic. And I’ve seen a lot of people in golf, they have what looks upon as a strong work ethic. But I think it’s spotty. I think it’s just too much up and down like we’re talking about.

And, you know, the last thing I want to just dove into a little bit is, is motivation. People tell me, hey, I want to be great at this. I want to go, Oh, wonderful. That’s awesome. You say that motivation to me in the simplest form is what is your motive to take action? And if I’m taking action like what you just mentioned, like you and I love giving coaching because it’s something that brings us energy.

It brings us and we do it because we want to help people. Right. There’s an intrinsic motivator part of that. I don’t need a ton of recovery from that. I do need a little bit, but if there’s something that saps my energy, okay, most likely that is going to require me to have even more recovery. But part of this motivation is like, do I like it or not if I want to be in this position or not?

And I think golfers still have to look at themselves even though there’s struggle, I want us to embrace the struggle. I want us to say, hey, this is what I signed up for. I can’t wait to get better because I want to get better for my own reasons and not for extrinsic reasons. And so what I’ve seen is that a lot of players are getting extrinsically motivated to do this to get something from the outside.

And to me their work ethic is like a yo yo going back up and down and they tend to fall into more of, well, I just need more recovery. It’s like, No, you’re just trying to avoid the struggle. You’re trying to avoid the work ethic that’s needed to get to that goal.

Yeah, absolutely. Nothing is absolutely vital to ensure that you actually find some joy in that struggle. It’s not always going to be joyful. It’s not always going to be something you’re excited to do. There are definitely times when things become challenging and you find huge joy in it because of your intrinsic motivation versus extrinsic. So I always say that I think there’s 100% there’s value in extrinsic motivation.

There’s value in setting those goals. I want to lift that trophy. I want that thing. I want this. There’s value there. But in my opinion, the one that creates long term success, repeatable success is the one that’s intrinsic, is the one internal to you. 

And I think that helps you get through those struggle phases. It helps you get through the tough times to ensure that you can win again and again and again and again.

If we’re talking from a golf standpoint. Exactly, because I love it.

Rick, another great episode. I know it would have been valuable for the listeners. So super excited to cover more things in the future. We’ve got so much more to come and I know we’ll be bringing more guests on in the future as well, so I’m really excited to do that, bringing some more interesting minds on to share with the listeners.

So super excited for everything to come in the future and we’ll catch everyone.

4 Phases of Flow
4 phases of flow / FlowCode Golf Academy - Golf mental game


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