Flow in Athletes : A Study of How Often Athletes Experience Flow During Competition and Practice
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Flow is a psychological state where people feel very focused and unaware of their surroundings, which for athletes is commonly referred to as being “in the zone.” This study explored the frequency to which athletes report experiencing flow during competition versus during practice. The author hypothesizes that athletes would experience flow more often during competition. It was also hypothesized that athletes with a high competitive spirit or a high growth mindset would experience flow more often during competition and also during practice, compared with those with a low or average competitive spirit or growth mindset. A sample of 101 Division III athletes completed an online questionnaire and reported how often they felt they experienced flow during competition and during practice, as well as rated themselves on their level of competitive spirit and growth mindset. Statistical significance supported all 5 hypotheses. Results revealed that athletes reported experiencing flow more often during competition than during practice. Also, it was found that athletes with a high competitive spirit reported experiencing flow more often during both competition and practice than athletes with a low or average competitive spirit. Lastly, it was found that athletes with a high growth mindset reported experiencing flow more often during both competition and practice than athletes with a low or average growth mindset. The results of this study raise questions about how competitive practices should be, as determined by coaches. This study should also be widened to athletes of varying levels of competition to determine if any differences exist among professional, DI, DII, DIII, high school, and recreational athletes.
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