Focused Motivation – How to Get Into Flow

Do you remember when you felt that time passed undetected and you managed to do something great by concentrating 100% on it? You are happy, receiving the acknowledgement of the people around you, feeling the sweet relief and the confidence you deserve.

I make a provocative statement here: these are the moments we live for. They can be simply playing with the kids, winning a difficult game, solving a challenging puzzle, or seeing your partner’s face after an enormously groundbreaking sex.

How can we apply the same concentration to the court as referees?

I have already published a post about the foundation of the ideal mental state. Now I go further and we try to make your concentration sharper and not to mention; enjoyable.

It’s NOT only good for refereeing, you can use it for any task in your life. Providing you want to do it well.

I bet you heard about Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. He is a fellow Hungarian, living in the States. All his life, he tried to figure out how to live a happier life, and he found that people are the happiest when they do a task that challenges them, and they do it well. Like the extreme athlete on the picture.

Ok, let’s see. Officiating is difficult? Absolutely. How about our skills? Hm… developing… Fake it till you make it! Don’t understand? You will. In a minute.

Flow chart

Mental state in terms of challenge level and skill level, according to Csikszentmihalyi’s flow model. (Wikipedia)

Mr Csíkszentmihályi asked participants for an experiment to take notes about their emotions a couple of times a day. On the data, he found that people are the happiest when they are in the state of flow – a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. It is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. It is focused motivation. It is when your task is challenging and you are good in it, like the chart shows. (Source: Wikipedia)

How to get into Flow

There is a nice and quick exercise for it! Try it before you go to officiating your next game.

  1. Relax. Breathe slowly, deeply. Clear up your mind, and let the thought of the match float into your mind.
  2. Do you have any uncomfortable or negative feeling? If yes, look for their positive intention. For example, if you are nervous, it tries to protect you. If one of the coaches make you sick, say thanks to them inside for making you stronger. You can find a positive intention in everything. I mean everything. And when you know the positive aspect of a negative feeling, it’s easier to accept and let it go. This is exactly what you need to do. Let it go.
  3. What are the positive results of this game for you? Is it that you can learn something new, that you can use your new skills, you are broadcasted on tv, …, whatever, but make it positive. The “at least I don’t have to be at home” is negative. Form it positively.
  4. Visualize. How do these results look like? In your own body, see the results of this game clearly in your head. How will you shake hands with the contended coach after the game? How will you feel after your excellent performance?
  5. Immerse in these positive results. Let it run all over your body. Feel the sweet results from head to toe.
  6. In your head, officiate the game perfectly. Go through all the possible situations quickly in your head and make the correct decision with style. We did something similar in another technique. See it, hear it and feel it in your head. Make it real.
  7. You are ready to go! Show them how it’s done!

The more you practice it, the faster it becomes, so use it before games or any task you need to do and you don’t automatically go into the state of flow.

Photo credits: Flickr

About Peter

Peter Papp is an enthusiastic supporter of open-minded referees, international basketball referee (FIBA) and NLP Master Practitioner. Peter is the founder of


Read more: Camp
5 Reasons to Go to a Referee Camp

After the season finishes, I usually have a small break both mentally and physically. I try to stay away for...