Exploring the flow state in professional jump jockeys: Content and connecting analyses.

Jackman, Patricia and Fitzpatrick, Gerry and Lane, Aoife (2015) Exploring the flow state in professional jump jockeys: Content and connecting analyses. In: European Conference of Sport Psychology, Bern, Switzerland.

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Abstract

Research on flow in elite sport has largely focussed on traditional sports and has yet to
consider the possibility of unique performance experiences in the case of horse-rider sports.
This study sought to explore; (a) the conditions influencing the occurrence of flow; (b) the
characteristics of flow; and (c) the connections between the conditions and characteristics of
flow in horse racing jockeys. Ten full-time professional National Hunt (jump) jockeys (Mean
age = 28.1; SD = 5.21) participated in semi-structured interviews exploring the flow state in
horse racing. Data was analysed through an alternating process between content analysis
(Colaizzi, 1978) and connecting analysis (Maxwell, 2012). The content analysis revealed that
ten characteristics described the state of flow in jump jockeys, of which the optimal
interaction with the horse has not emerged previously. Synchronisation of horse and jockey
during flow experiences was characterised by communication, physiological and locomotive
features. The optimal horse-jockey partnership involved the fusion of conditions pertaining
independently to both the horse and jockey and was subsequently expressed through altered
kinaesthetic sensations in the horse-rider relationship. Twelve facilitators, ten inhibitors and
seven disruptors were identified as being influential to the state of flow in jockeys, with all
three circumstances including a novel theme; the demeanour, performance and
characteristics of the horse. The connecting analysis extracted 35 links between the
conditions and characteristics of flow, through which confidence, concentration and the
optimal interaction with the horse were highly influential. This study made two important
contributions by characterising the experience of flow in the interspecies equine sport of
horse racing and identifying the manner in which the facilitative factors influenced flow in
jump jockeys. Additionally, results also alluded to elements of the autotelic personality in
jockeys. Results are discussed in relation to previous research and recommendations for
theoretical and research developments outlined.

Keywords:sport psychology, positive psychology, qualitative methods, horse racing, optimal experiences
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C850 Cognitive Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C890 Psychology not elsewhere classified
C Biological Sciences > C600 Sports Science
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
ID Code:37130
Deposited On:02 Oct 2019 09:08

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