In the Flow

Jonathan Males writes

In the Flow takes what I’ve learned about performance psychology over the years and presents it in a practical, accessible format. Although the book is illustrated with lots of examples from canoeing, the content is relevant for all sports and for anyone interested in improving their performance.

It’s available in paperback or e-book at Amazon or other online retailers, or via this website

Section 1 begins by understanding self-confidence, the single most important factor for success and enjoyment in sport, as it is in most fields of human endeavor. I describe how self-confidence flows from the four Psychological Fundamentals of Mastery Motivation, Decision Making, Execution and Teamwork. They are called fundamentals in the same way that edge control, balance, rotation and timing are essential physical aspects of paddling. Understanding and developing the Fundamentals makes the connection between what happens inside your head and how you perform. The Fundamentals develop naturally with experience but I provide specific skills and exercises that you and your coach or sport psychologist can use to increase your capability and speed up your learning in each area.

Section 2 has six chapters that each address a theme and show how the psychological Fundamentals help performance.

There’s a chapter on competition that’s relevant for slalom, extreme racing, sprint, marathon, ocean racing and freestyle, with real examples from top paddlers and coaches. This will help you develop your own personalized Performance Demand Model and a race day plan to guide you successfully through your event.

The next chapter explores whitewater paddling and shows how the psychological fundamentals are just as relevant when you’re sitting at the top of a waterfall as when you are on a start-line. I look at risk and decision-making, and how to maintain or rebuild confidence after a bad experience.

Chapter 8 tackles women in paddling. I was asked to write this by a young man I met paddling with his girlfriend. He was puzzled and frustrated by his girlfriend’s behavior on the river, so I’ve interviewed some outstanding women paddlers to get their advice and also reviewed the research on the psychological differences between men and women.

Chapter 9, Paddling with young people, will be especially relevant if you’re a parent or coach. I explain how young people’s thinking, feeling and motivation can change through their teenage years and into young adulthood, and what you can do to help them stay engaged and positive.

Next, I look at canoeing over a lifespan and the psychological transitions at different stages of life. I show that some real gifts emerge with maturity that mean you can get as much, or more, satisfaction from paddle-sports as the youngsters.

Finally, Chapter 11 closes with some reflections about what the natural environment and the wilderness has to offer for your mental and spiritual health.