Variations of experience in formal and informal sport

Laurence Chalip, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Douglas Kleiber, Reed Larson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The premise of this paper is that an important component of the value of sport is the experience it provides: the moods, feelings, and self-perceptions that occur in sports contexts. The Experience Sampling Method (ESM) was used to monitor the ongoing experience of 75 adolescents. Sport was compared with other activities in terms of concentration, mood, self-consciousness and sense of skill, challenge and control. Three different sport contexts were distinguished and compared—organized sport, informal sport, and physical education class. These three contexts were contrasted, and results interpreted in terms of the "flow model" of enjoyment and optimal experience (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975). Sport was experienced as substantially more positive than the rest of everyday life. Sense of control was highest in gym class and lowest in informal sport; sense of skill was highest in informal sport and lowest in gym class; and significantly more was perceived to be at stake in organized sport than in informal sport or gym class. Finally it was shown how the structure of the activity impacts the relationship between sense of skill and other subjective variables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-116
Number of pages8
JournalResearch Quarterly for Exercise and Sport
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1984
Externally publishedYes


  • Experience sampling
  • Flow model
  • Informal sport
  • Organized sport
  • Physical education
  • Subjective well-being
  • Youth sport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Nephrology


Dive into the research topics of 'Variations of experience in formal and informal sport'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this