Motivation and emotion/Book/2014/Sport winning motivation
What motivates athletes to win?
Motivation is a very important factor in improving and maintaining an individual's athletic performance. Without your desire and determination to improve your sports performances, all of the other mental factors, confidence, intensity, focus, and emotions, are meaningless (Roberts, G. C., & Duda, J. L. (1984); Kerr, J. H. (2014)). To become the best athlete you can be, you must be motivated to do what it takes to maximize your ability. Individuals who lack motivation may not attend regular training sessions, may not train with full intensity, and may not perform to their highest standard during games or competition. Motivation is a personal thing and what motivates one person may not motivate another person at that point in time. Without motivation or lack of motivation, athletes would not participate and would not have any drive to win (Franken, R. E., & Brown, D. J. (1995); Miller, B. (1997)).
Motivation is the foundation behind all athletic effort and achievement. It's the driving force behind an athlete's desire and determination to achieve their goals (Miller, B. (1997)). Without the desire and determination to improve and achieve goals in all sports performances, all mental factors such as confidence, intensity, focus and emotions become meaningless and cause an athlete to become disinterested in sporting activity in which they participate. Being motivated can help ease pressure and demands that come with being an athlete or elite athlete. To become the best athlete you can be, you must be motivated able be able to sustain the motivation to maximize your ability and achieve your goals and experience positive results (Franken, R. E., & Brown, D. J. (1995)).
What motivates athletes?
Motivation is simply defined as the ability to initiate and persist at a task (Maslow, A. H. (1943); Kerr, J. H. (2014)). Motivation in sports is important because you must be willing to work hard in the face of fatigue, boredom, pain and the desire to do other things. To perform at your best, you must be willing to maintain your efforts until you have achieved your goals. Achieving goals can become a powerful motivator in a person’s life. Some people live for reaching their goals. The need for achievement is their motivation to accomplish a challenging task quickly and effectively (Kerr, J. H. 2014).
Many incentives can motivate athletes to win. These include prize money, trophies, ranking points, positions on ladder (team sports), reaching number 1 in the country or world, etcetera. There are three broad categories which these incentives come under: fear, incentives and purpose. An athlete who is motivated by fear is likely not so much trying to achieve something as they are trying to avoid something (Gill, D. L., et.al. 1996). Incentives is a strong motivator for many athletes but their extrinsic means generally they last for only a short time before the "incentives" need to be increased or made more appealing. An athlete developing a strong sense of purpose is most effective for promoting long-term motivation. Creating a sense of purpose and/or meaning is about changing the way athletes think about their roles, their reasons for coming to practice, their influence on teammates, their membership on the team, and their reasons for playing and competing. Fear and incentives are often short term, whereas purpose is often long term.
Everyone has a different perspective on how motivation works and each develop different theories. Although there are thousands of individual views and theories most of them come under three approaches;
- Trait-centred view
- Situation-centred view
- Interactional view (Weinberg, R. S., & Gould, D. (2011))
The trait-centred view outlines that motivated behaviour is primarily a result of an individuals specific characteristics. In other words, the personality, needs and goals of a student or athlete, are the primary factors that motivate them. In these situations a coach may often describe an athlete as a 'real winner', implying that this individual has personal characteristics that allow them to excel at sport. This view indicates that some individuals have personal attributes that predispose them to success and high levels of motivation; on the other hand others may lack motivation, personal goals, and desire. Sport psychologists have not endorsed this view because it fails to take into account the importance of environmental influences on motivation. Trait-centred view take into account that:
- Motivated behaviour is a result of individual characteristics (e.g., personality, needs, goals will determine behaviour).
- Coach may describe an athlete as a “real winner.”
- Some people have attributes (goals, desires) that predispose them to be more motivated.
- However, environmental influences MUST be considered in real life. (Weinberg, R. S., & Gould, D. (2011))
The situation-centred view suggests that an individual’s motivation level is largely determined by the situation. For example, a gymnast might be motivated at training but then be unmotivated in a competitive sport situation. Sports psychologists also don’t recommend this view as the most effective for guiding practice, as a situation may not always be the primary factor influencing an individual’s motivation level. The situational-centred view takes into account that:
- Motivation level is determined by situation
- Student loves step aerobics but dislikes running
- Sometimes you can overcome a poor situation. E.g.– bad coach, but you still worked hard (Weinberg, R. S., & Gould, D. (2011))
The interactional view is most widely acknowledged by exercise and sport psychologists. This view indicates that motivation results neither solely from participant factors, nor solely from situational factors. The best way to understand motivation is to consider both the situation and participant and how the two interact together. Therefore it is important to understand the interaction between an athlete or student’s personal makeup and the specific situation. The interactional view takes into account that:
- must study how situation and traits interact
- The participant’s motivation is dependent upon how the situation (leader-coach style, facility attractiveness, team win-loss record) and traits personality, needs, interests, goals) interact
- Best view (Weinberg, R. S., & Gould, D. (2011))
Types of Motivation
There are many types of motivation in sport all of which can play a major role in how we handle the pressures and stresses of competition (Roberts, G., & Treasure, D. (2001)). Motivation is thought to be a combination of the drive within us to achieve our aims and the outside factors which affect it. With this in mind, motivation has the following forms, intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, positive motivation, negative motivation and achievement motivation.
Intrinsic motivation is defined as a construct and desire to be competent and self-determining. These athletes are usually self-starters because of their love of the game. The motivation for competing can be found in the action itself, and not in some external force (i.e., a reward or outcome). When you compete based on intrinsic motivation, you are doing something because it is fun and you enjoy it. Intrinsically motivated athletes are more likely to maintain effort and consistency across practice and competition best (Vallerand, R. J., & Losier, G. F. (1999); Vallerand, R. J., & Rousseau, F. L. (2001)).
Extrinsic motivation comes from a source outside of the performer or athlete. Instead of doing something because it is fun, people who are extrinsically motivated compete based on what they receive as a result. They are not concerned with the action itself, they are only concerned with the resulting rewards. Types of extrinsic motivators include prize money, trophies, sponsorship, being number 1 and ranking points. These are factors which can encourage the athlete to perform and do their best (Vallerand, R. J., & Losier, G. F. (1999); Vallerand, R. J., & Rousseau, F. L. (2001)).
Positive motivation is a form of motivation which moves you toward a positive happening or experience, moving you toward something you do want to happen, and the essential motivating part of positive motivation is the thought of this 'good' experience or result happening. Positive motivation occurs when an athlete performs because they have received rewards for similar actions in the past and they realise that continuing to perform as required results in additional rewards (Clinkenbeard, P. R. (1989).).
Negative motivation is characterised by an improvement in performance out of fear of the consequences of not performing to expectations, such as being dropped to a lower grade team or put on the bench for a previous poor performance. Inspiring an athlete to perform well because they expect to be punished if they fail may work on occasion, but has serious shortfalls (Clinkenbeard, P. R. (1989).).
Achievement motivation is where athletes wish to engage in competition or social comparison (Nishida, T. (1988)). It refers to an athlete’s efforts to master a task, achieve excellence, overcome obstacles, perform better than others and take pride in exercising talent. It’s a person’s orientation to strive for success and persist in the face of failure and experience accomplishments. For example in a competitive event where all things being equal between two athletes, whoever has the higher achievement motivation will be the better athlete because of the desire for and to win competition (Nishida, T. (1988); Tod, D., & Hodge, K. (2001).).
Individual Vs Team Sports
What motivates an individual athlete and what motivates a team are completely different. Individual athletes are competing for themselves so their motivation is both intrinsic and extrinsic whereas in team sports players are competing as a team and their motivation is extrinsic (Roberts, G., & Treasure, D. (2001)). Individual athletes are responsible for the training and strategy to ensure his or her success, whereas in team sports the team members must work together to achieve success.
The motivational drive to win is fascinating because the ideal of winning in sport remains inherently artificial. Sport competition involves a “game” and the artifice of the game constructs the rules of how to play and defines the goal and this is what constitutes winning (Duda, J. L. (1995); Duda, J. L. (2005)). In individual sports, athletes rely upon their own ability and talents to win.
There are many extrinsic motivations that encourage an individual athlete to win. As extrinsic motivation comes from outside the athlete, the motivation to win comes from an external reward. Some of these include prize money, ranking points, trophies, reaching world number 1, etc. External rewards encourage athletes to get better. By offering external rewards, athletes are then motivated to train and work harder to get better at their chosen sport (Reeve, J., Olson, B. C., & Cole, S. G. (1985)). Once an athlete gets better and is motivated by the rewards offered, they tend to become more motivated which helps them win (Duda, J. L. (1995); Duda, J. L. (2005)).
Another motivator that encourages individual athletes to win is the fear of failure. Because individual athletes are competing for themselves, the fear of failure is more intimidating. If an athlete has a fear of failure, it prevents them from performing at their best and makes the athlete fell down on themselves.
Sports teams develop their motivation to win from external factors and rely upon one other to be able to win (Duda, J. L. (1995); Duda, J. L. (2005)). As each athlete relies upon another to be able to compete to win, the motivation to work together to win is encouraged. A lot of team sport athletes are motivated by participation as they like to participate with friends as well as make new friends. Athletes who are motivated by participation need to be motivated differently than those who compete to win. Coaches need to find participation related triggers to get the best performance out of the people who are motivated by participation. This will enable them to work together with those athletes who are motivated to win (Duda, J. L. (1995); Duda, J. L. (2005)).
Elite sports teams rely on one another each week to be able to compete to win in their chosen sport. By having team mates, the motivation to continue to compete when the team is down or an athlete is feeling down, the encouragement to continue to compete is a big motivator. According to Greater Western Sydney Giant AFL player Dylan Shiel, things that motivate teams can involve many factors:
- rivals between opposition teams that there may be history between
- playing against certain players who you may have history between
- purely just wanting to win is a motivator for athletes are they want to be the best
- fear of failure
Fear of failure is a big motivator. A lot of athletes are motivated by getting the best out of themselves. If athletes feel that they cannot succeed at their chosen sport their performance levels drop and may potentially lead to the player being dropped from the team for the next game. Money can also be a motivating factor. Professional athletes are paid a certain amount of money to compete and play their chosen sport each week. If athletes play well and progress rapidly, their yearly salary may be increased, which therefore motivates them to win at their chosen sport. Teams always want to improve on their previous year or season. So trying to win more games than last season is also a big motivator.
Elite Athlete Motivation
Motivation is a very important factor in elite level sports for the simple reason it’s what makes you do what you do, if you’re not motivated to be a top level athlete then you have a chance of not being the best you can be and falling short of your goal's. Most athletes experience times when they just don’t feel motivated (Roberts, G., & Treasure, D. 2001). For some, it might mean not wanting to go to practice. For others, it gets to a point where they lose interest in their chosen sport altogether. For elite athletes finding the motivation to compete comes down to being the best and to be the best they have to win . Elite athletes rely on both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to encourage them to win in their chosen sport. Many elite athletes compete for both types of motivational reasons, but it is said that intrinsic motivation should outweigh extrinsic motivation (Mallett, C. J., & Hanrahan, S. J. 2004). For an elite athlete to stay motivated on winning, they need to remain focused on the intrinsic motivation.
Winning is the ultimate source of intrinsic motivation. Without intrinsic motivation, hours of commitment, frustrations, challenges, endless goals and high sense of self belief would be a waste. If an elite athlete is without the commitment to his/her training, they will have no motivation to compete to win (Jackson, S. A. 1995).
Although winning may be the ultimate source of intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation also plays a role in winning for elite athletes. Extrinsic factors such as, money, fame, fortune and sponsorship motivate elite athletes to win. They also encourage elite athletes to perform at their best. The roles these factors play encourage an elite athlete to want to get better at their chosen sport. Without them, athletes would not have any motivation to push themselves further and reach higher levels and progress to be the best at their chosen sport .
Male and Female Athlete Motivation
Many of the goals and motivations that drive individual athleticism and competition are the same among male and female athletes. Others, however, they can differ slightly or dramatically, depending on gender. In areas where male and female athletes differ, a coach will guide both male and female athletes to achieve their fullest potential by being conscious of these differences . As males and females have different attitudes towards sport, the motivation that drives them to win differs and that needs to be taken into consideration when they are competing to win in their chosen sports (Monazami, M. et.al (2012)).
Females tend to compete for different reasons than males and react to different motivation techniques. This is why females require different kinds of motivation to achieve their goals and to win. When it comes to motivating females to win, coaches need to take into consideration that females tend to be more goal-oriented than males and tend to put a lower priority on winning. Everyone wants to win, but females tend to think more in terms of goals and the big picture (Monazami, M. et.al (2012)).
It is often said that "girls aren't as competitive as boys". But this is not true. Girls are just as competitive as boys, although their motivation to compete to win varies (Fortier, M. S., Vallerand, R. J., Briere, N. M., & Provencher, P. J. (1995)). It also varies on the type of sport they play as well. For individual female athletes, the motivation they generally draw upon is intrinsic motivation and negative motivation. These two types of motivation are what allow the female to continue to compete on a level which should motivate them to win. In team sports, female athletes work together as a team, but depending on the level that they are competing at influences the motivation they have towards winning. In team sports females tend to participate to make friends and have fun. While all is well, the coach of the team needs to find a way to extrinsically motivate the team to encourage them to win as well as make friends and have fun (Fortier, M. S., Vallerand, R. J., Briere, N. M., & Provencher, P. J. (1995)).
Male athletes are very competitive and therefore the desire to win at their chosen sport is a huge motivator. Female athletes have higher levels of intrinsic motivation as compared to male athletes, whereas males have higher levels of extrinsic motivation . Males tend to compete in sports for the external reward at the end. This is the main factor that motivates them to win (Fortier, M. S., Vallerand, R. J., Briere, N. M., & Provencher, P. J. (1995);Monazami, M. et.al (2012)).
Males often compete to win and without the intent of other outcomes such as friendship and enjoyment. Males who compete in individual athlete sports are often very competitive because they have no one else to back them up in order to help them win. Males often draw upon extrinsic motivation and positive motivation. These types of motivation encourage the male athlete to find the motivation to compete to win. In sports such as tennis, swimming and athletics the individual male athlete has to find the motivation to perform at their best to enable them to win. In male team sports, athletes rely upon one another to stay motivated to compete to win. Athletes who are often feeling down or unmotivated are often encouraged by their team mates to perform at their best to help the team to win .
- Exercise motivation: How to get fitness motivation and how to keep it going (Book chapter, 2011)
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