Mindfulness and flow in elite athletes

Mindfulness and flow in elite athletes.

Cathcart, McGregor, and Groundwater (2014) recently explored the relationship between mindfulness and flow in elite athletes. Cathcart, McGregor, and Groundwater’s (2014) research extends previous research (Bernier, Thienot, Codron, & Fournier, 2009; Salmon, Hanneman, & Harwood, 2010; Schwanhausser, 2009) which has shown mindfulness may be one potential method for enhancing flow and to improve athletic performance.  McGregor and Groundwater (2014) suggested that the symbiotic relationship between mindfulness and flow may be the core element of present-moment focus and immersion in the task at hand, as noted by others (e.g., Gardner & Moore, 2004, 2006; Kaufman et al., 2009; Kee & Wang, 2008; Salmon et al., 2010).

An interesting cultural variable that Cathcart, McGregor, and Groundwater (2014) included was exploring weather gender and choice of sport impacted the relationship between mindfulness and flow. There results indicate that gender and sport did not display a difference in the propensity for mindfulness and flow. However, Cathcart, McGregor, and Groundwater (2014) described that gender and sport was related to a different relationship between the subscale constructs of mindfulness and flow. In particularly, Cathcart, McGregor, and Groundwater (2014) state “the relationship between mindfulness and flow may possibly be stronger in individual-pacing sports compared with team-based non-pacing sports, and mindfulness may possibly be related to different facets of flow in males compared with females” (p. 139).

Moreover, Cathcart, McGregor, and Groundwater (2014) also suggested that the following are features of mindfulness that are not features of flow: “(a) an orientation to, and openness and acceptance of, experience, cultivated through mindful meditation; (b) an explicit intention to observe the transient nature and subjectivity (as opposed to validity) of experience (including feelings, cognitions, sensations); and (c) a focus on the internal experience. Further, Bishop et al. suggested that flow is better considered as a potential outcome of mindfulness, rather than a comparable process” (Cathcart, McGregor, and Groundwater, 2014, p.138). Cathcart, McGregor, and Groundwater (2014) assert, “given previous research indicating that mindfulness is useful for enhancing athletic performance and well-being in elite athletes, further research should be conducted to replicate and extend the present exploratory results” (p.139). The current study utilizes the same measurements of Cathcart, McGregor, and Groundwater (2014), therefore our results may be considered as one study that has replicated and extended their previous work.