League of Legends

Climb Faster with Flow

Content of the article: "Climb Faster with Flow"

Have you ever played a game and lost sense of time? You were most likely immersed. What do you get if you take immersion and give it steroids? Flow or as it’s more colloquially know “Being in the Zone” or “Runner’s High”. Here is a look at a Starcraft II pro Cho “Polt” Seong Hun player’s brain”

“Polt's brain activity showed that he not only moved to new tasks quickly, but also efficiently shifted his focus to kick in milliseconds after a switch. Additionally, in high-pressure situations, like controlling an army to fight on multiple fronts, Polt's measurable mental state highly resembled that of top athletes in a flow state, i.e., "in the zone." This means he was focused and relaxed, not distracted and frantic””

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is considered the father of flow state and research. It’s a state of intense concentration, loss of self, and intrinsic motivation. It makes us happy and while in this state we objectively do everything better. It’s been said we can perform and learn 300% better. That sounds badass to me and I would definitely like to consistently enter flow during my ranked climb.

Here are some bullet points on the neurology of flow for other biohacking nerds like me:

  • Beta brain waves (awake) change to alpha waves (meditative)
  • Implicit memory (unconscious or automatic) is a key functioning region
  • Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex modulates working memory (briefly hold new information)
  • Medial prefrontal cortex does self-monitoring and reflective processing.
  • Flow has a decrease activity in the medial prefrontal cortex area (transient hypofrontality)
  • Combination of anterior cingulate cortex and temporal pole
  • Increase in neurotransmitter release of Dopamine, Serotonin, Norepinephrine, Endorphins, and Anandamide

https://books.google.com.pr/books?hl=en&lr=&id=6IyqCNBD6oIC&oi=fnd&pg=PA195&dq=flow+state+research&ots=IMKdQK3axC&sig=MR0irwN-e8P6fyTAYRwPBrpvdcM&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=flow%20state%20research&f=false

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2019.00274/full This study was done using Tetris and CS:GO

https://brainbiz.com.au/the-neuroscience-of-flow/

Summary:

When in flow the parts of the brain that perform executive function (thinking) actually quiet down. You reach a state of incredible presence and focus in what you are doing and you react faster and intuitively because you have less need to “think” about your actions. You basically run on autopilot. This is a common experience for pro gamers. You see their expressions can be blank and it’s because they are in flow and not actively self-reflecting. Or have you ever made a ridiculous play, then afterwards thought “Wait, what just happened?”. You were most likely in flow (but asking yourself that probably kicked you out of it). Much of the function goes to the basal ganglia and cerebellum. There is variation depending on the skill level of the individual and the type of video game being played but we will ignore that extra complexity for now.

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Let’s look at the pre-requisites of flow:

  • The 9-part framework:
    • Challenge/Skill balance
    • Clear goal
    • Unambiguous feedback
    • Action-awareness merging
    • Intense concentration
    • Sense of control
    • Loss of self-consciousness
    • Transformation of time
    • Autotelic experience (You play for the love of the sport)

Let’s break these down and see how we can trigger flow:

  • Challenge/Skill Ratio. Your activity has to be slightly more difficult than your current level of skill. If it’s too difficult you become anxious and stressed. If it’s too easy you become bored. Make it 4% harder than what you can do. Explained in this graph https://imgur.com/a/Uf381sr
  • Clear Goal. Have a clear goal for the session and for the match.
  • Immediate Feedback. Have access to immediate feedback to see how your progressing.
  • Intense Focus. This can be trained with things like mindfulness/meditation.
  • Eliminate external distractions- Don’t multitask. There is a steep cost to this called cognitive switching penalty.
    • Put your phone and any other devices where you can’t hear it or see it.
    • Is chat being toxic or distracting? Mute. Can’t emphasize this enough.
    • Tell others that you do not want to be interrupted for a certain period of time.
  • Eliminate internal distractions
    • Stress causes mental instability which dissuades hyper focus. Work on lowering your stress. Exercise, meditation, etc.
    • Mental reminders. Keeping reminders in your head takes up mental bandwidth. Write it down and forget about it. Free up the space for full concentration.
  • Optimal energy
    • If you’re tired, your body will naturally decline reaching flow state since it’s a state of high energy. Be well rested and keep your mind sharp.
    • Mornings are also great since it’s the time when you naturally increase cortisol levels. This increased energy can be directed to the task at hand.
    • Use tea instead of coffee. Tea has caffeine but also L-theanine. This allows the benefit of increased attention of caffeine without jitters thanks to the soothing effect of L-theanine. Allows for calm focus. Stay away from energy drinks.
  • Rich Environment
    • RGB lights. You can use them as triggers. Pick a color for each moment. There is some science to the use of colors to influence emotional and psychological states. These are mine:
      • Red – In-match tryhard mode
      • Blue – Post-match analyzing my mistakes and what to improv
      • Green – Relaxing
    • Music
      • Music is highly subjective but has some good research to back up its application.
      • Different tempos are conducive to different states, for example music at 120-140 bpm is great for running while music at 50-80 bpm is better used for problem solving and increasing creativity because it aligns our brains to the alpha state.
      • Use relatively repetitive music because distractors like lyrics take up some of our attention.
  • Self-Talk/Imagery
    • These techniques will be explained in a future post but they are effective in inducing flow
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Some more triggers https://www.cwilsonmeloncelli.com/17-flow-triggers-to-hack-into-the-flow-state/

Some extra research on flow and elite athletes:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322676172_A_SYSTEMATIC_REVIEW_OF_FLOW_TRAINING_ON_FLOW_STATES_AND_PERFORMANCE_IN_ELITE_ATHLETES

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322676335_Flow_training_flow_states_and_performance_in_elite_Athletes

Conclusion:

Practice entering flow under similar conditions each time so it becomes automated. Our brains are incredible at making ties between states of being and context. You can see how many pro players have specific little “rituals” that allow them to influence their emotional, psychological and physiological state. Make it a habit and you will become overwhelmingly OP.

If anyone has any other tips or tricks I'd love to hear about them!

Source: reddit.com

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