Flow occurrence in elite sport: a systematic review

Swann, Christian and Piggott, David and Keegan, Richard and Crust, Lee (2010) Flow occurrence in elite sport: a systematic review. In: Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology Annual Conference, 9th-10th December 2010, Camden Lock, London.

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Abstract

The optimal psychological state of flow is being increasingly researched in sport, and the potential of controlling or inducing these experiences remains a desirable prospect, especially at the elite level. At this time however, there remains uncertainty as to exactly how and when these experiences occur. The primary aim of this study was to summarise the existing literature on flow within elite sport by conducting a systematic review examining: (i) how flow is experienced by elite athletes; (ii) the factors influencing (i.e. facilitating, preventing and disrupting) the occurrence of flow; and (iii) interventions attempting to enhance flow states. Five databases were searched comprehensively for peer reviewed primary studies, which were published up until 2009, and pertained specifically to flow in elite sport. This process identified a total of 16 included studies which were primarily qualitative, and were, therefore, analysed and discussed using methods of qualitative synthesis. Results are discussed in terms of the findings relating to each of the three questions stated above, as well as the main problems or issues identified within this existing literature. In particular, problems were found in terms of: (i) establishing causality, i.e. a lack of explanation as to how and why flow occurs; (ii) establishing temporality, i.e. the process through which flow occurs and which factors trigger the experience; and (iii) methodology, i.e. lack of consistency in the samples and methods used. These findings could be used to inform future studies in this area, and build towards a deeper understanding of flow in sport.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Additional Information:The optimal psychological state of flow is being increasingly researched in sport, and the potential of controlling or inducing these experiences remains a desirable prospect, especially at the elite level. At this time however, there remains uncertainty as to exactly how and when these experiences occur. The primary aim of this study was to summarise the existing literature on flow within elite sport by conducting a systematic review examining: (i) how flow is experienced by elite athletes; (ii) the factors influencing (i.e. facilitating, preventing and disrupting) the occurrence of flow; and (iii) interventions attempting to enhance flow states. Five databases were searched comprehensively for peer reviewed primary studies, which were published up until 2009, and pertained specifically to flow in elite sport. This process identified a total of 16 included studies which were primarily qualitative, and were, therefore, analysed and discussed using methods of qualitative synthesis. Results are discussed in terms of the findings relating to each of the three questions stated above, as well as the main problems or issues identified within this existing literature. In particular, problems were found in terms of: (i) establishing causality, i.e. a lack of explanation as to how and why flow occurs; (ii) establishing temporality, i.e. the process through which flow occurs and which factors trigger the experience; and (iii) methodology, i.e. lack of consistency in the samples and methods used. These findings could be used to inform future studies in this area, and build towards a deeper understanding of flow in sport.
Keywords:Flow, Elite Sport
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C850 Cognitive Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
ID Code:6340
Deposited By: Lee Crust
Deposited On:27 Sep 2012 17:24
Last Modified:12 Jun 2014 07:53

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