Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Physical Education

First Advisor

Eva Monsma


The concept of flow was birthed from positive psychology specifically to uncover individuals’ most positive experiences and “understand the roots of happiness” (Csikszentmihalyi, 2004). Because of the nature of flow experiences, individuals continually seek out opportunities to have more of these experiences (Seifert & Hedderson, 2010; Swann et al., 2018), however, little is known regarding how adolescents experience flow. For early-adolescents (11-14 years old: Holt, 2007), sports represent an environment that often produces physical, psychological, and social benefits (Crane & Temple, 2015), and combats negative factors (Pluhar et al., 2019). Unfortunately, adolescent athletes are particularly vulnerable to burnout and sports attrition (Bell et al., 2019) and their voices have been largely unheard in the literature (Harrist & Witt, 2015). Mirroring the community-based participatory research (CBPR) methodology of Lile (2014), this research explored adolescent athletes’ sport-related lived experiences through virtual, peer-led interviews and group discussions, and identified how adolescent athletes describe flow and clutch experiences using the nine dimensions of flow (Jackson & Eklund, 2002) and the Integrated Model of Flow and Clutch States (Swann et al., 2021). Adolescent athletes appear to experience flow and clutch states amidst complex, dynamic existences, supporting emerging research on optimal experience. Such findings inform future research, particularly in creating developmentally appropriate measurements for flow and clutch during adolescence.


© 2021, Hayes Mayfield Bennett