The role of mental toughness in the occurrence of flow and clutch states in sport

Patricia C. Jackman *, Lee Crust * and Christian Swann **/***

(*) School of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln, United Kingdom
(**) Centre for Athlete Development, Experience & Performance, School of Health and Human Sciences, Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour, Australia
(***) School of Health and Human Sciences, Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour, Australia

Citation

Jackman, P.C., Crust, L., Swann, C. (2020). The role of mental toughness in the occurrence of flow and clutch states in sport. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 51(1), 1-27. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2020.51.001

Abstract

Mental toughness (MT) is a personality construct that enhances performance in sport, while flow and clutch states are psychological states that underlie excellent athletic performance. This study explored whether flow and clutch states differed between higher MT (HMT) and lower MT (LMT) athletes. Sixteen athletes (HMT n = 8; LMT n = 8) were tracked for five sport performances, and the occurrence of flow and clutch states was explored through event-focused interviews. Data were analysed in the HMT and LMT subgroups in terms of the initiation of both flow and clutch states, and the sustainment of both flow and clutch states. Contrasts were apparent between subgroups, with differences reported in the initiation of flow and clutch states, and the sustainment of clutch states. Findings suggest individual differences in the occurrence of flow and clutch states between HMT and LMT athletes, and extend understanding of MT, flow, and clutch states.

Keywords: Peak performance, Event-focused interviews, Enjoyment, Optimal experience, Positive psychology


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