The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of an imagery intervention for enhancing the experience of flow state and performance in junior athletes. On the basis of previous results, a tailored imagery script was developed to target critical flow dimensions, namely challenge-skills balance, clear goals, concentration on the task, and sense of control. It was hypothesized that the use of cognitive and motivational imagery would increase specific flow dimensions, which, in turn, would enhance flow state and competition performance. Participants in a single-case, multiple baseline A-B design study were four nationally ranked athletes. Following a 6-week baseline phase monitoring flow state and performance and a 6-week intervention phase using relaxation in conjunction with imagery techniques, three participants showed a sustained increase in flow experiences, and all four participants improved their service performance, groundstroke performance, and ranking-list position.
Stefan Koehn, Tony Morris, and Anthony P. Watt
Steven Love, Lee Kannis-Dymand, and Geoff P. Lovell
mindfulness and flow. However, the processes initiating, maintaining or interrupting flow state in athletes are much less understood ( Chavez, 2008 ; Swann et al., 2012 ). This study poses that both the states of flow and mindfulness are outcome mental states that are collectively defined and operationalised
Susan A. Jackson and Herbert W. Marsh
The Flow State Scale (FSS) is a new measure of flow in sport and physical activity settings. The nine FSS scales of the 36-item instrument represent the dimensions of flow discussed by Csikszentmihalyi (1990, 1993), and each scale is measured by four items. Development of items was based on (a) past research with flow state both within and outside of sport settings, (b) qualitative analysis of interviews with elite athletes, and (c) quantitative analyses conducted in the present investigation. Internal consistency estimates for the nine FSS scales were reasonable (alpha M = 33) for administration of the scale to 394 athletes. Confirmatory factor analyses supported the nine scales. Consistent with the theoretical basis of the FSS, there was also support for a hierarchical model in which one global (higher order) flow factor explained correlations among the nine first-order FSS factors. Suggestions for use of the scale and for further research are discussed.
Susan A. Jackson and Robert C. Eklund
The Flow State Scale-2 (FSS-2) and Dispositional Flow Scale-2 (DFS-2) are presented as two self-report instruments designed to assess flow experiences in physical activity. Item modifications were made to the original versions of these scales in order to improve the measurement of some of the flow dimensions. Confirmatory factor analyses of an item identification and a cross-validation sample demonstrated a good fit of the new scales. There was support for both a 9-first-order factor model and a higher order model with a global flow factor. The item identification sample yielded mean item loadings on the first-order factor of .78 for the FSS-2 and .77 for the DFS-2. Reliability estimates ranged from .80 to .90 for the FSS-2, and .81 to .90 for the DFS-2. In the cross-validation sample, mean item loadings on the first-order factor were .80 for the FSS-2, and .73 for the DFS-2. Reliability estimates ranged between .80 to .92 for the FSS-2 and .78 to .86 for the DFS-2. The scales are presented as ways of assessing flow experienced within a particular event (FSS-2) or the frequency of flow experiences in chosen physical activity in general (DFS-2).
Masato Kawabata and Rachel Evans
The present study examined the extent to which scores on the Flow State Scale-2 (FSS-2) could differentiate individuals who experienced flow characteristics in physical activity from those who did not. A total of 1,048 participants completed the Japanese version of the FSS-2. Latent class factor analysis (LCFA), which combines the strengths of both latent class analysis and factor analysis, was conducted on the FSS-2 responses. Four classes were identified through a series of LCFAs and the patterns of the item-average scores for the nine flow attributes were found parallel among these classes. The top two classes (15.1% and 38.9% of the whole sample) were considered the groups who experienced flow characteristics during their physical activities. These results indicated that individuals who experienced flow attributes in physical activity could be differentiated from those who did not based on their FSS-2 scores. Criteria for classifying individuals into the two groups were proposed.
Pete Lindsay, Ian Maynard, and Owen Thomas
Using a single-subject multiple baseline design, combined with assessments of participants’ internal experience (Wollman, 1986), the efficacy of a hypnotic intervention on flow state and competitive cycling performance was assessed in three elite cyclists. Intervention involved relaxation, imagery, hypnotic induction, hypnotic regression, and the conditioning of an unconscious trigger associated with the emotions of past peak performance. Ecologically valid performance measures were collected from British Cycling Federation (BCF) races, and the intensity of flow was assessed using Jackson and Marsh’s (1996) Flow State Scale (FSS). Results indicated that the number of BCF points gained per race was positively influenced in one participant, sporadically influenced in the second participant, and not influenced in the third participant. FSS scores during the intervention phase increased for one participant. These findings suggest that hypnotic interventions may improve elite competitive cycling performance and increase the feelings and cognitions associated with flow.
John Pates, Andy Cummings, and Ian Maynard
This study examined the effects of hypnosis on flow states and three-point shooting performance in 5 collegiate basketball players. The investigation utilized an ideographic single-subject multiple baselines across subjects design combined with a procedure that monitors the internal experience of the participants (Wollman, 1986). The method of intervention utilized in this study involved relaxation, imagery, hypnotic induction, hypnotic regression, and trigger control procedures. The results indicated that all five participants increased both their mean basketball three-point shooting performance and their mean flow scores from baseline to intervention. There were no overlapping data points between the baseline and intervention for either performance or flow state. Additionally, each participant indicated that they had felt the intervention was useful in keeping them confident, relaxed, and calm. These results support the hypothesis that a hypnosis intervention can improve three-point shooting performance in basketball players and increase feelings and cognitions that are associated with flow.
Joanne E. Perry, Michael Ross, Jeremiah Weinstock, and Terri Weaver
Research has supported mindfulness as a predictor of athletic success. This study used a parallel trial design to examine the benefit of a brief one-session mindfulness training for performance on an individual, nonpacing, closed skill athletic task (i.e., golf putting). All participants (N = 65) answered questionnaires and engaged in two trials of the putting task. Participants were randomly assigned to an intervention or control group using a simple randomization strategy. Between trials, the intervention group received a mindfulness intervention. Mindfulness intervention included psychoeducation, reflection upon previous sport experiences, an experiential exercise, and putting applications. Repeated-measures ANOVAs demonstrated that the intervention group exhibited more successful outcomes on objective putting performance, flow state experience, and state anxiety (p < .05). Results suggest mindfulness may prevent performance deterioration and could produce psychological benefits after a brief training session.
Nektarios A. Stavrou, Susan A. Jackson, Yannis Zervas, and Konstantinos Karteroliotis
The purposes of the current study were to examine (a) the differences in Flow State Scale (FSS) subscales between the 4 experiential states of the orthogonal model (apathy, anxiety, relaxation, and flow), (b) the relationship between challenge, skills, and flow experience; and (c) the relationship between flow experience and athletes’ performance. Two hundred twenty athletes volunteered to participate in this study. Challenge of the game and skills of the athlete were measured before and after competition. Thirty minutes after the competition, the FSS was used to measure flow experience. In addition, subjective and objective measures of athletes’ performance were assessed. Athletes in the flow and relaxation states revealed the most optimal states, whereas the athletes in the apathy state showed the least optimal state. There were positive associations between athletes’ flow experience and their performance measures, indicating that positive emotional states are related to elevated levels of performance. On the other hand, there were low or no correlations between athletes’ performance and reported challenge of the game, whereas skills of the athlete were moderately correlated with flow. Multiple-regression analysis demonstrated significant prediction of athletes’ performance based on flow experience during competition. Future research should examine the relationship between flow, athletes’ performance, and additional dispositional and state variables.
Cian Aherne, Aidan P. Moran, and Chris Lonsdale
This study investigated the relationship between mindfulness training (a nonjudgmental attentional training technique) and flow experiences in athletes. Participants were 13 university athletes (M = 21 years), assigned either to a control group or an experimental group. Flow experiences were assessed before and after the intervention. ANOVA (group x time) of global scores on the Flow State Scale-2 (FSS-2; Jackson & Eklund, 2004) showed a significant interaction (F = 11.49, p < .05). Follow-up t tests indicated no significant difference (p > .05) between the experimental and control groups’ FSS-2 global scores at the baseline training session, but a large difference (p < .05, d = 1.66) at a follow-up training session. Significant interaction effects were also observed for FSS-2 subscales scores for the flow dimensions of “Clear Goals” (F =18.73, p < .05) and “Sense of Control” (F = 14.61, p < .05). Following an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of this study, the theoretical significance of the results is assessed and the promise for the application of mindfulness training in performance enhancement is discussed.