Flow in youth sport, physical activity, and physical education: A systematic review

Jackman, Patricia, Dargue, E. J., Johnston, J. P. and Hawkins, Rebecca (2021) Flow in youth sport, physical activity, and physical education: A systematic review. Psychology of Sport and Exercise . p. 101852. ISSN 1469-0292

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2020.101852

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Flow in youth sport, physical activity, and physical education: A systematic review
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Abstract

Flow in sport, physical activity, and physical education can have widespread benefits for youth participants. The aim of this study was to systematically review, synthesise, and appraise literature on flow in youth sport, physical activity, and physical education. More specifically, the review explored the: methods used to study flow; conceptualisation of flow; antecedents associated with flow; interventions and mechanisms to facilitate flow states; and outcomes associated with flow. Electronic database and manual searches in September 2020 yielded 2292 potential papers. Overall, 39 studies with 17,123 youths published over 36 years (1984-2020) satisfied the eligibility criteria and were included in the review. As the first systematic review of flow in physical activity contexts specifically in youth-aged participants, the synthesis identified several issues with the measurement and conceptualisation of flow. While evidence has accumulated on antecedents and outcomes of flow in youth sport, physical activity, and physical education, the reliance on cross-sectional designs prevents the inference of causality. Interventions designed to facilitate more frequent or intense flow experiences have been relatively unsuccessful, thus suggesting that further research is required to explain the occurrence of flow and to develop interventions that reliably induce flow states in youths. Overall, the review highlights a need for higher quality research to make meaningful progress in understanding of the flow experience in youth sport, physical activity, and physical education. Recommendations for future research that could help to advance understanding include: experimental studies; evidence-based flow interventions; and qualitative methods, such as event-focused interviews.

Keywords:exercise, optimal experience, peak performance, child, athlete, enjoyment
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C850 Cognitive Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C890 Psychology not elsewhere classified
C Biological Sciences > C812 Educational Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C820 Developmental Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
ID Code:43073
Deposited On:15 Dec 2020 09:41

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