The pleasures and pains in the sporting zone: an embodied perspective

Wellard, I. and Pickard, A. (2017) The pleasures and pains in the sporting zone: an embodied perspective. In: Jordan, T., Woodward, K. and McClure, B., eds. Culture, Identity and Intense Performativity: Being in the Zone. Antimonies. London: Routledge. ISBN 9781138185920

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This chapter explores the complexity of defining, interpreting, theorising and capturing bitz within the context of sport, dance and recreational physical activity. It is apparent that there are many problems when considering bitz within the context of solely psychological explanations (in particular flow theory), where the focus has been predominantly on the positive ‘potential’ of getting into the ‘zone’ for greater performance. However, if considered in terms of the potential harmful effects of bitz upon the physical and social body, there is a greater need to consider the differing theoretical starting points and acknowledge the social, economic, gendered, geographical and class based factors in any attempts to theorise the concept. Further, bitz extends beyond the arena of sporting performance and can be seen to encompass the way in which work practices are re-formulated and, ultimately, this raises interesting questions about both the positive and negative aspects of being in, or attempting to get into, the zone. Consequently, a broader socio-cultural approach to exploring the implications of increased interest in harnessing and controlling bitz becomes vital. To do this the focus in this chapter is upon the processes through which a physical activity is experienced. By specifically exploring the experience of bitz in terms of pleasure and pain, the intention is to qualitatively account for the multitude of individual and external influences that determine how the zone is anticipated, experienced and remembered. The concept of body-reflexive practices is incorporated from Connell in order to explore the notion of body reflexive pleasures which incorporate an acknowledgment of the physiological, psychological and sociological factors that contribute to a sporting activity being considered pleasurable or not. Examples will be drawn from qualitative research with recreational sports participants and dancers that highlight the contrasting ways in which bitz is experienced. For instance, research conducted with young female ballet dancers reveals the ways in which they developed embodied techniques to manage physical pain. In many cases, pain was constructed as ‘good pain’ and part of the everyday experience of ‘being’ a ballet dancer. Contemplating the broader socio-cultural aspects of bitz allows for further discussion relating to the often unquestioned assumptions, both in academia and professional practice, that getting into the zone is necessarily beneficial to the individual and, ultimately, always worth pursuing.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV0706 Sports psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Human and Life Sciences
Depositing User: Dr Ian Wellard
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2016 14:39
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2017 15:09

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00