Flow, or being “in the zone” (Jackson & Csikszentmihalyi, 1999, p. 12), is associated with athletes’ best-perceived performance (Jackson, Thomas, Marsh, & Smethurst, 2001). Practising regulated breathing could be associated with experiencing flow; the current research sought to study this potential relationship in New Zealand high-performance adult athletes. New Zealand high-performance adult athletes’ intentions to use regulated breathing in two behaviours (‘practising regulated breathing in a training routine’ or ‘using regulated breathing as a mental skills tool during competition’) along with potential predictors of an individual’s intentions (instrumental and experiential attitudes, injunctive and descriptive norms and capacity and autonomy) were also researched.
Ninety New Zealand high-performance adult athletes gave consent to use their data. Results from the data gathered showed:
· There was no statistically significant difference in the frequency flow was experienced between participants currently practising regulated breathing and those that were not.
· Most of the sample responded that they intended to practice regulated breathing in a training routine (64%) and use regulated breathing as a mental skills tool during competition in the future (76%) with no statistically significant difference across the competition level competing at (International, National or Provincial [Regional]/ Open Age Premier Club Grade Level).
· Instrumental attitudes (the perceptions of the positive or negative consequences of practising regulated breathing) were the only statistically significant predictor of intentions to practice regulated breathing in a training routine or during competition.
· The predictor variables studied (instrumental and experiential attitudes, injunctive and descriptive norms and capacity and autonomy) explained a large amount of the variation in their intentions to practice regulated breathing in a training routine (67%) and a large amount of the variation in their intentions to use regulated breathing as a mental skills tool during competition (70%).
Regardless of results, further evidence is needed to confirm the relationship between practising regulated breathing and how frequently flow is experienced, especially given the small sample size in this study (among other reasons). However, the results do suggest that regulated breathing interventions could be appealing to New Zealand high-performance athletes.
Jackson, S. A., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1999). Flow in sports. Champaign, Illinois, United States of America: Human Kinetics.
Jackson, S. A., Thomas, P. R., Marsh, H. W., & Smethurst, C. J. (2001). Relationships between flow, self-concept, psychological skills, and performance. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 13(2), 129–153. https://doi.org/10.1080/104132001753149865