Title

The Role of Flow in Athletic Competition: An Investigation Through Whitman College Athletes

Abstract

In the 1970s, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi established the concept of “flow,” a universally applicable phenomenon defined as “an optimal psychological state that occurs when there is a balance between perceived challenges and skills in an activity” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). In "flow," individuals experience “intrinsic motivation, perceived ability, concentration on task, loss of self-consciousness, altered sense of time, and autotelic (self-rewarding) experience” (Pain, 1999). Today, many athletes strive to attain flow in order to achieve excellence in competition. My presentation explores flow within athletics as a promoter of good performance in competition. I examine whether or not flow is responsible for optimal performance or, conversely, if good performance stimulates flow. Through an experiment involving Whitman College athletes, several pre- and post-game surveys and performance data from a targeted competition, I suggest the overall function of flow in athletics.

Faculty Sponsor

Emily Bushnell, Brooke Vicke

Tracks

Motivating Influences

Terms of Use

ARMINDA Terms of Use

Location

Maxey 104

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

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The Role of Flow in Athletic Competition: An Investigation Through Whitman College Athletes

Maxey 104

In the 1970s, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi established the concept of “flow,” a universally applicable phenomenon defined as “an optimal psychological state that occurs when there is a balance between perceived challenges and skills in an activity” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). In "flow," individuals experience “intrinsic motivation, perceived ability, concentration on task, loss of self-consciousness, altered sense of time, and autotelic (self-rewarding) experience” (Pain, 1999). Today, many athletes strive to attain flow in order to achieve excellence in competition. My presentation explores flow within athletics as a promoter of good performance in competition. I examine whether or not flow is responsible for optimal performance or, conversely, if good performance stimulates flow. Through an experiment involving Whitman College athletes, several pre- and post-game surveys and performance data from a targeted competition, I suggest the overall function of flow in athletics.

Rights Statement

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