Below is an excerpt from an interview with Tim Herzog, respected mental performance coach, published 1/17/2017. I like the idea that we make room for ‘flow’ to occur through management of our arousal state. Also, he points out, in the context of competitive sailing he focuses on speed and emotional regulation, not winning a trophy.
“Goal-setting is really important, for instance. Lots of good can come from having Outcome Goals, but if you are too focused on them , for instance if you think “I need to be top three,” you are distancing yourself from the task in hand; the thought “top three” has nothing to do with actually having the boat going fast around the race course.
So, I work more on Process Goals, that shift the focus more on the present moment (and) the processes that lead to going fast. One of the most important process goals and mental skills is arousal control, which means influencing how amped up they are.”
“People may have little arousal, meaning they are bored or sleepy or not very motivated, and on the other end of the spectrum- they can be overly angry or anxious. Both of these extremes are not conducive to top performances, but somewhere in the middle there is that sweet spot of optimal performance. That could depend a lot on the individual person, on the conditions in which they are sailing and other variables, but you can get better and better in knowing where that sweet spot is, and you can get better in getting there intentionally rather than haphazardly.
You can influence arousal in either directions, and you can have routines to amp up when you feel low, or calm down when you are overly activated, so the flow moments become more likely.”
In other words, in a race, mind the tack, not the trophy.