- 1. “Flow” defined
- 2. The flow channel
- 3. Complexity
- 4. Closing thoughts
- 5. References
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Bowlers who approach me for coaching usually answer the question about what their goals are in similar ways:
- “I would like more revs.”
- “I want a higher average.”
- “I want to be more consistent.”
An issue that sometimes emerges following further discussion is the frustration they feel with bowling in general. Perhaps they’ve plateaued and can’t advance to the next level, or they feel like they’re going backwards while their peers and teammates are advancing. Maybe they can’t keep up with all the constant changes in our sport (balls, layouts, oil patterns, techniques) and are feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. Or, in some cases, perhaps they just aren’t enjoying their bowling anymore and are literally on the verge of giving up the sport completely.
Regardless of a bowler’s skill level, I feel that the best way to address these concerns is to get them to become more engaged in the process rather than the outcome and to raise their awareness of what may be causing their frustration. The ultimate goal is to get the bowler to where he or she can derive genuine pleasure from the challenges that tenpin bowling offers as a lifelong pursuit.
“Don’t aim at success – the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater than oneself.”
-Viktor Frankl (Austrian psychologist)
This article can be seen as a companion piece to my last article, Bowling in the Zone, where we’ll explore the theory of “flow” from a bowling perspective, to help bowlers engage with the sport of bowling in a potentially more enjoyable and meaningful way.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a professor at the University of Chicago, developed a theory of optimal experience based on the concept of “flow.” Flow is a state where people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter, and typical concerns (time, food, money) are temporarily forgotten. He describes flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous ...