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Flow in Sports

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Overview

"

The experience of flow is still one of the least understood phenomena in sport. And yet it is one of the richest, most memorable experiences an athlete will ever know.

Some call it a natural ""high."" Others refer to it as being ""in a zone."" Whatever it's called, flow is an elusive and very sought-after psychological state that athletes, coaches, and sport psychologists have tried to understand, harness, and employ to their benefit since ...

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Overview

"

The experience of flow is still one of the least understood phenomena in sport. And yet it is one of the richest, most memorable experiences an athlete will ever know.

Some call it a natural ""high."" Others refer to it as being ""in a zone."" Whatever it's called, flow is an elusive and very sought-after psychological state that athletes, coaches, and sport psychologists have tried to understand, harness, and employ to their benefit since Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi first coined the term back in the early 1970s.

Now, in the first book devoted exclusively to flow in sports, the pioneering legend Csikszentmihalyi and sport psychology researcher Susan Jackson attempt not only to explain the phenomenon but also to identify the key conditions associated with its occurrence.

The book begins with a description of what flow is and is not. Flow is defined as a person's total absorption into an activity. While it is always a peak, satisfying experience, it is not necessarily associated with peak performance on every occasion.

Most of the book delves deeply into the key factors leading up to and accompanying the flow experience. The authors also recommend certain actions on the part of the athlete or coach to optimize the conditions in training and performance that allow flow to occur. The book is full of vivid examples, captivating quotes, and revealing research findings that enhance the authors' clear and insightful text.

The sport setting is rife with opportunities to experience flow-be it in pick-up games or the Olympics. But until now, flow has been an infrequent, accidental, and even mysterious phenomenon to most athletes. With Flow in Sports, this optimal experience becomes both more familiar and more achievable. Get to know flow, and get into it. Find out what you've been missing.

"

The book contains black-and-white illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Garland O'Quinn Jr., PhD (University of Texas El Paso College of Health Sciences)
Description: The psychology of optimal sport performance is the subject of this state-of-the-art book. Susan Jackson has teamed up with the original author, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, to apply this very powerful theory to the specific application of sport performance.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide athletes, coaches, and students of sport a clear description of the internal and external forces present when the psychological state of flow has been achieved. Flow is a subjective state that cannot be directly controlled. Yet, knowledge of the conditions that accompany flow should help performers plan their environment so that this desirable psychological state is achieved more often.
Audience: The authors present a graphic model of the flow state as defined by the parameters of skill and challenge. This model helps the athlete develop self-confidence by forming goals and expectations within his or her range of ability.
Features: Numerous athletes were interviewed for first hand descriptions of their flow experiences. The descriptions of and quotations from these athletes are used to give a visceral dimension to the nine listed components of flow. Each component is well described and documented in the context of sport performance. One of the more interesting aspects of the flow theory is that winning in competition is not a necessary condition for achieving the flow experience. The psychological state of flow results from becoming totally absorbed in the action. Any participant regardless of skill level can achieve flow if he or she succeeds in becoming totally absorbed in a focused effort that pits maximum skill against appropriate challenge. Possibly one of the most intriguing discussions in the book is the epilogue, "Where to from here." The authors discuss possible changes in the challenges of sport during the coming century. Technology/virtual sport is seen as a not so satisfying substitute for physical participation. Flow is believed so thoroughly dependent upon body-mind integration that virtual sport cannot replace the self controlled physical movement that makes sport what it is today.
Assessment: While other books consider one or two of the influences on flow, such as attention or positive attitude or stress, and there is one edited compilation of separate presentations on the psychology of peak performance, no other current volume has so thoroughly integrated the many factors which influence achievement of optimal sport performance.
Garland O'Quinn Jr.
The psychology of optimal sport performance is the subject of this state-of-the-art book. Susan Jackson has teamed up with the original author, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, to apply this very powerful theory to the specific application of sport performance. The purpose is to provide athletes, coaches, and students of sport a clear description of the internal and external forces present when the psychological state of flow has been achieved. Flow is a subjective state that cannot be directly controlled. Yet, knowledge of the conditions that accompany flow should help performers plan their environment so that this desirable psychological state is achieved more often. The authors present a graphic model of the flow state as defined by the parameters of skill and challenge. This model helps the athlete develop self-confidence by forming goals and expectations within his or her range of ability. Numerous athletes were interviewed for first hand descriptions of their flow experiences. The descriptions of and quotations from these athletes are used to give a visceral dimension to the nine listed components of flow. Each component is well described and documented in the context of sport performance. One of the more interesting aspects of the flow theory is that winning in competition is not a necessary condition for achieving the flow experience. The psychological state of flow results from becoming totally absorbed in the action. Any participant regardless of skill level can achieve flow if he or she succeeds in becoming totally absorbed in a focused effort that pits maximum skill against appropriate challenge. Possibly one of the most intriguing discussions in the book is the epilogue, "Whereto from here." The authors discuss possible changes in the challenges of sport during the coming century. Technology/virtual sport is seen as a not so satisfying substitute for physical participation. Flow is believed so thoroughly dependent upon body-mind integration that virtual sport cannot replace the self controlled physical movement that makes sport what it is today. While other books consider one or two of the influences on flow, such as attention or positive attitude or stress, and there is one edited compilation of separate presentations on the psychology of peak performance, no other current volume has so thoroughly integrated the many factors which influence achievement of optimal sport performance.
Booknews
With help from sports psychology researcher Jackson, Csikszentmihalyi (human behavior, U. of Chicago) pares down his now-famous concept of flow to basic explanations and self-assessment exercises. Emphasis is on achieving a balance between challenges and skills, setting goals, taking advantage of feedback, focusing on the present, controlling the controllables, and having fun. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

4 Stars! from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780880118767
  • Publisher: Human Kinetics Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/19/1999
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 305,173
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

"

Susan Jackson and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi combine their backgrounds to present the most authoritative work on the phenomenon of flow in sports, bringing together the expertise of the world's leading authority on flow with the leading researcher on the subject.

Susan Jackson, PhD, won two awards for her ground-breaking doctoral dissertation, titled ""Elite Athletes in Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Sport Experience."" Jackson has continued to conduct research and publish articles on flow in sports, and is known internationally for her work on the subject.

She brings to her work the perspectives of athlete, coach, teacher, sport psychology consultant, and university lecturer. Jackson lives in Brisbane, Australia, and lectures in the School of Human Movement Studies at Queensland University of Technology.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, PhD, developed the concept of flow in the mid-1970s and has pioneered research on the subject in work, social, and educational settings ever since. His early research on flow explored play and happiness and involved a number of prominent athletes. He has published 10 books, among them the ground-breaking Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, as well as Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention and Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life.

Csikszentmihalyi is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1997) and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (1998). He is the C.S. and D.J. Davidson Professor of Management at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California.

"
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Table of Contents

Part I: Understanding Flow
Chapter 1. Being In Flow
Chapter 2. Flow FundaMentals

Part II: Experiencing Flow
Chapter 3. Finding Your Challenge-Skills Balance
Chapter 4. Transcending Normal Awareness
Chapter 5. Knowing Where You're Going
Chapter 6. Taking Advantage of Feedback
Chapter 7. Focusing on the Present
Chapter 8. Controlling the Controllables
Chapter 9. Focusing on Fun

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 9, 2010

    Flow in Sports is the best sport psych book I've read and is very easy to apply.

    This book, unlike most I've read, provides both easy to apply and scientifically valid sport psychology practice. Sport psych is one of the least used techniques to improve performance but one of the most effective. Most other books are either vague in application or are too specific to a particular sport. This book will benefit all athletes as well as non athletes who are committed to improving physical performance.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2007

    a tool for great improvement

    This book is written very well. The beginning gives a good overview of the essential aspects to getting in the 'flow'. Then it provides much further detail into each single area. Athlete or non-athlete I think anybody can take away a great deal of positive and insightful information that the book offers. If you really try to implement what the authors discuss in the book I think you'll find a much greater focus in sport and life.

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