Locke, Abigail (2008) Managing agency for athletic performance: a discursive approach to the zone. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 5 (2). pp. 103-126. ISSN 1478-0887

This paper provides a discursive perspective on a concept used within sport psychology, in both its academic and practical discourse, namely 'the zone.' This extraordinary state is one of exceptional peak performance whereby an athlete claims to perform effortlessly, automatically, and successfully. The focus of this paper is the use of the zone as a discursive resource in accounting for successful performance. Through the examination of two televised accounts of performance by elite athletes, I argue that the zone can be used as a way of managing agency for a performance for diluting or softening accounts of success, or as a way of claiming success was probable when failing due to injury. The paper proposes a number of rhetorical contrasts that are evident in the discursive deployment of the zone

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