Investigating the experience of flow in European Tour golfers

Swann, Christian and Crust, Lee and Piggott, David and Keegan, Richard and Hemmings, B. (2013) Investigating the experience of flow in European Tour golfers. In: British Psychological Society Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology Conference, 16 - 17 December 2013, The Midland Hotel, Manchester.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Poster)
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Abstract

Objectives: This study explored how flow (commonly known as “the zone”) is experienced in elite golf, a sport which may be different to those studied previously due to its slower paced, stop-start nature.

Design: In-depth, semi-structured interviews were employed to gain rich insight into the flow experiences of these participants.

Method: The participants were 10 male professional golfers (Mean age = 37) who had competed on the European Tour for, on average, 10 full seasons. Five of these had won on the European Tour and two had Ryder Cup experience. The players were asked a range of questions relating to what the experience of flow is like within golf, and the interviews lasted, on average, 53 minutes.

Results: Inductive thematic analysis was employed and 14 themes describing flow emerged, of which 11 displayed similarities to Csikszentmihalyi’s dimensions. Notably, however, these golfers reported an additional awareness of being in flow as it occurred, and even attempted to maximise the experience. Two other themes did not clearly fit with the original dimensions either: altered cognitive and kinaesthetic perceptions, and feeling calm and/or relaxed during the experience. Finally, the participants also perceived that they could observe others in flow, e.g., through changes in behaviour.

Conclusions: These findings suggest possible revisions to the existing framework to more clearly describe the flow experience within elite golf and possibly other sporting contexts. The seemingly observable nature of flow may also be useful for researchers and, for example, within coaching.

Keywords:Sport Psychology, Elite Athletes, Positive Psychology, Optimal Experience, Performance
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C890 Psychology not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
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ID Code:13193
Deposited On:27 Jan 2014 17:26

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