Exploring athletes’ perceptions of group flow in team performance

Coussens, Adam and King, Lewis (2017) Exploring athletes’ perceptions of group flow in team performance. Journal of Sports Sciences, 35 (1). pp. 1-119. ISSN 0264-0414

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BASES Conference 2017 Programme and Abstracts.pdf
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Abstract

Despite extensive research exploring the psychological phenomenon of flow in performance contexts for individuals, there is a paucity in literature with regards to the experience of group flow in team sports. Whilst group flow has received attention in predominantly non-sporting domains, only a limited amount of research has explicitly explored group flow experiences of athletes (Bakker et al., 2011, Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 12, 442–450). As such, the aim of this study was to investigate perceptions of group flow experience of athletes that competed in team sports, applying a qualitative framework. A particular emphasis was placed on exploring the characteristics involved in group flow and the factors that facilitate or disrupt this experience. With institutional ethical approval, semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight (N = 8) athletes (mean age: 24.0 ± 3.96, years’ experience playing their sport 9.9 ± 2.17) from a variety of standards (ranging from national to recreational), and sports (including soccer, rugby, tennis doubles, camogie, and handball). The trustworthiness of the data was established through peer debriefs, critical peer review, and member checking. Subsequent data analysis included both inductive and deductive analysis, based on Sparkes and Smith’s (2013, Qualitative research methods in sport, exercise and health: From process to product. London: Routledge) recommendations. Inductive analysis created higher order themes from the raw data, and these themes were deductively coded into Csikszentmihalyi’s (2002, Flow: The classic work on how to achieve happiness. 2nd ed. London. Rider Books) model of flow, producing eight characteristics describing the experience of group flow. When athletes experienced group flow they also perceived an enhancement in team performance, and shared understanding with teammates. In particular, a perceived shared understanding between teammates was associated with heightened automaticity of movement and decisions. Group flow was reported to be facilitated by high levels of confidence within the team at both an individual and collective level, and by positive team play and interactions. Group flow disruptors included negative interactions from team-mates, such as criticism. The current study provides a detailed understanding of athletes’ perceptions of group flow in relation to current flow theories, with considerations outlined for theoretical development and practical application of developing group flow.

Additional Information:BASES Conference 2017 – Programme and Abstracts
Keywords:Flow, Group Flow, performance, Team interaction
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
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ID Code:30548
Deposited On:27 Feb 2018 12:31

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