Fresh Conceptualization of Team Flow
Attempts have been made to understand the complex dynamic relationships involved in team sports and explain the nature of successful performance. In sports, these components are particularly relevant because athletes often attribute peak performances and outcomes to psychological states such as team flow. We focused on exploring team flow state as an independent construct whose dimensions need to be identified by research. The purpose of this investigation was to conceptualize team flow state and develop an inventory to measure it.
We used a phenomenological qualitative research design to capture team flow state experiences of athletes, coaches, and sport psychologists. Thematic analysis of the data generated 14 team flow dimensions, seven similar to individual flow and seven new team flow dimensions. Then we developed the Team Flow State Inventory (56-item TFSI) based on the content of the team flow theoretical model. The analysis of the qualitative data for the dimensions generated 102 raw data statements which were divided between 32 first-order themes, creating a pool of items for the TFSI. Confirmation of the structure, content validity and comprehensibility of the 56-item TFSI was provided by five flow experts.
We performed CFA which determined the internal structure and psychometric characteristics, as well as the goodness of fit of the TFSI with the hypothesized theoretical model of team flow. A sample of 358 active athletes in various team sports was recruited to complete the 56-item TFSI. Because this version of the TFSI did not produce a satisfactory fit, item-deleted alphas, and standardized residual covariance were used to improve the model fit by omitting one item from each dimension. Results showed all fit indices of the 42-item TFSI were at least acceptable 𝑥2/sd = 2.31, RMSE = 0.06, TLI = 0.90, and CFI = 0.92. Internal validity was also satisfactory with Cronbach alpha coefficients that ranged from α =.69 to α =.87. These results confirmed the acceptable construct validity of the TFSI. In the next step I examined and established significant discriminant validity between the TFSI and measures of individual flow (Flow State Scale-2; FSS-2), group cohesion (Group Environment Questionnaire; GEQ), and collective efficacy (Collective Efficacy Questionnaire for Sports; CEQS), indicating that team flow is a construct that is independent of individual flow and distinct from team cohesion and collective efficacy.
The contributions of this research lies in offering a new conceptualization of team flow as an independent concept, designing the 42-item TFSI, a valid and reliable inventory for measuring experiences of the team flow state, and suggesting future directions for research and practice for team flow.