Flow and Clutch States in Exercise

Members of the MTOUGH Research Group have previously and are currently engaged in a number of research projects with international collaborators. Recently, Dr Trish Jackman collaborated with Dr Christian Swann (lead author – Southern Cross University, Australia), Matthew Schweickle (University of Wollongong, Australia) and Dr Stewart Vella (University of Wollongong, Australia) on a paper that was accepted in Psychology of Sport and Exercise entitled “Optimal experiences in exercise: A qualitative investigation of flow and clutch states”. By interviewing exercisers soon after rewarding exercise activities, the team found that exercisers experienced two optimal psychological states – flow and “clutch” – during rewarding exercise experiences. Although researchers have previously investigated flow in exercise settings, an important contribution of this study was that it provided novel evidence of the relevance of clutch states in exercise. Furthermore, the findings also offer insights into the occurrence, experience, and outcomes of flow and clutch states in exercise settings. In turn, the team suggested that the findings offered further support for the tentatively proposed Integrated Model of Flow and Clutch States (Swann et al., 2017) and that the insights generated by this research could inform future research on flow and clutch states in exercise and offer potential recommendations for reliably inducing each state during exercise. Going forward, Trish and other members of the MTOUGH research group are interested in advancing understanding of optimal experiences in exercise settings, which is particularly important given that peoples experience during exercise is considered to be a stronger predictor of future physical activity behaviours than their feelings after exercise.

 Swann, C., Jackman, P. C., Schweickle, M., & Vella, S. (in press). Optimal experiences in exercise: A qualitative investigation of flow and clutch states. Psychology of Sport and Exercise. doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2018.09.007

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