Experiences of flow in jockeys during flat-race conditions

Jackman, Patricia and Van Hout, M. C. and Lane, A. and Fitzpatrick, G. (2015) Experiences of flow in jockeys during flat-race conditions. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 13 (3). pp. 205-223. ISSN 1612-197X

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Abstract

Flow is an intrinsically rewarding psychological state associated with an enhanced state of
consciousness and the harmonic combination of body and mind. Jockeys often refer to the
highly pleasurable experience of racing performances and allude to characteristics
resembling the flow experience. Little is known about how the manifestation of the flow
experience differs in an equine sport, which features an atypical sporting partnership
comprising a human–horse dyad. The purpose of this study was to explore the conditions
that (a) facilitate, (b) inhibit and (c) disrupt the occurrence of flow in flat horse racing.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 Irish professional Flat jockeys regarding
their experience of flow in horse-racing performance. Based on the raw data responses,
higher-order themes and general dimensions were developed to capture the essence of the
flow experience amongst Flat jockeys. Content analysis revealed that conditions similar to
those which emerged in other studies involving elite athletes were prevalent, which included
effective preparation, environmental and situational conditions, experience, physical
readiness, trainer/owner interaction, focus, motivation, arousal, confidence and performance
feedback. The narratives also revealed the emergence of two conditions unique to equine
sports that were termed relationship between horse and jockey and horse demeanour and
performance. The optimal horse–jockey partnership was characterised by confidence,
optimal arousal and harmony, which emanated from the fusion of conditions pertaining
independently to both the horse and jockey. Findings are discussed in relation to previous
research on flow and the horse–human relationship. Recommendations for future research
and practice are outlined.

Keywords:horse, jockey, flow, sport, horse racing, JCNotOpen
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C600 Sports Science
C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
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ID Code:15787
Deposited On:23 Oct 2014 18:14

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