Motivation and emotion/Book/2020/Feedback and motivation in sport

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Feedback and motivation in sport:
What is the effect of feedback on motivation in sport?

Overview[edit | edit source]

Have you ever played a social or competitive sport? Whether this was going back to Physical Education in high school or to last Monday night at the Indoor Sports Centre, you will have been motivated one way or another[grammar?]. You may have been encouraged by social agents around you - your coach or teacher, your teammates or peers, or the parents on the sidelines. The feedback you hear is crucial as it is satisfying your competence, relatedness and predicting your competence satisfaction and valuation (Lorimer & Jowett, 2010; Moles, Auerbach & Petrie, 2017). This chapter explores how motivating feedback may be on your performance in sport and the attitudes towards it.

The following fictional case study aims to assist readers with theory in action throughout this chapter:

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Case Study

Wendy is a part of an elite soccer development squad. She is motivated to make it onto the national soccer team and then to represent her country at the Olympics one day. She is trying to equip herself with the resources to enable her to boost her performance and to stay positively motivated. Throughout this chapter, we will refer to Wendy and her scenario to provide a real-life explanation with the relevant content.


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Focus questions
  • What is the connection between feedback and motivation?
  • How can the type of feedback effect athlete motivation?
  • Why is this important to know?

The kick towards theory and research[edit | edit source]

Dictionary.com defines feedback as 'information about reactions to a product, a person's performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement'. Right from the beginning of the understanding of 'feedback' is the mention of performance and improvement. Feedback in a sporting context is the information conveyed from the coach down to athlete[can feedback also come from other sources?] about the extent to which behaviours and performance correspond to expectations (Carpentier & Mageau, 2016). Effectively, these words can assist in the reasons for someone acting or behaving a certain way, a way that can drive motivation. To grasp the effects of feedback on motivation in sport, we must first define the very theories that support the frameworks.

A group of young children standing around in dirt, soccer ball is at their feet and it looks as if they are discussing sport tactics.
Figure 1. Teammate feedback[Provide more detail]

Self-determination theory[edit | edit source]

Self Determination Theory (SDT) is a broad framework that connects personality and psychological nutrients to obtain an individual’s optimal motivation. This theory was introduced in 1985 by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan. The three psychological needs are:

  • Competence: an understanding of what skills and abilities are required to perform well in the sport.
  • Relatedness: a sense of connection to those around, such as a sports team or relationship with a coach.
  • Autonomy: the capacity to perform under one’s direction and desire, rather than influence or pressure from other factors.

The needs are to be satisfied to allow individuals to be psychologically balanced and happy. Having these needs met also fulfil individuals with:

Table 1. The effects of having psychological needs satisfied
Effect Result
Intrinsic motivation Satisfying the psychological needs of competence, relatedness and autonomy
Personal growth Achieving a sense of self-worth, sense of wholeness and identity
Internalisation Extrinsic motivational satisfaction
Well-being Satisfaction with self, comfortable and happy
Engagement With activities at hand, the sensation of feeling autonomous and competent

Beyond the basic concepts, SDT has many mini theories or sub-theories underlying the framework. To mention a few, Cognitive Evaluation Theory, Goals Content Theory and Organismic Integration.


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Case Study

For Wendy to satisfy her psychological needs within her sports, she needs to ensure she recognises:

Autonomy: oversee her training decisions, listen to her coach’s perspectives, display patience in her improvements, ask her coach to provide explanatory rationales

Competence: set challenges that are difficult but in reach, ask for communication from her coach at the end of training sessions and games, create clear expectations with herself and her team, have ‘grit’ and a high failure tolerance

Relatedness: get involved with her team training, form a social bond with teammates and coach, demonstrate awareness, show responsiveness to her coach and seek this in return.

Goal-setting theory[edit | edit source]

Goal-Setting Theory of motivation is considered as a technique rather than a theory. Locke and Latham (2006) exert[say what?] that for goals to be set and achieved, they need to follow specific motivational points such as:

  • aligning with personal values, emotions and desire
  • to have clarity and be specific with intentions
  • must be challenging, demanding but obtainable
  • deadlines improve the effectiveness
  • group goal-setting being just as important as individual goal setting

Altogether, these points result in a consequence, such as receiving feedback when the goal has been attained or the progression to the goal.

A commonly used technique from Goal Setting theory is the SMART acronym (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time, first introduced by George T. Doran, 1981). This technique can be used effectively to remember the essential attributes of the theory. The acronym allows individuals to use this technique across all domains such as job interviews, setting Key Performance Index’s[grammar?] or setting a team goal in a sporting team.

In conflict to this, goals are sometimes seen as rules; which may go against some athlete’s need for autonomy. When coaching and setting goals, it is crucial to combine goal setting with feedback to be useful as a motivational technique (Ward, 2011). Feedback demonstrates a baseline where the athlete then can be accountable for their actions when working on their performance. In some instances, taking the goals into a public domain can be a system that monitors an athlete’s progress towards their individual or team goal. Performance feedback can be seen in graphs, charts, among the coaching staff, other teammates or even through technology. Many programs and ‘games’ are out there that demonstrate the public performance feedback from SuperCoach as well as newspaper articles.

While goals should be specific and challenging for the athletes, they should also be beyond function-based behaviours (Ward, 2011), which is an outcome of expected performance. In our case study of Wendy, these may look like the number of times she kicks the ball, the number of goals she scores or turnovers figures. These outcomes are easy to measure and effectively setting goals from a baseline made on past performance. To maximise the use of Goal-Setting Theory and as stated earlier in the chapter, performance should be complemented with feedback - this impacts an athlete’s perceived motivational climate. It is noted that goal involvement can fluctuate with the situation and ecological validity (Gershgoren, Tenenbaum, Gershgoren & Eklund, 2010).


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Case Study

Wendy and her coach catch up and chat about what some goals she can integrate for herself. Together, Wendy decides her goals for the pre-season training are: improve on her kicking accuracy to 70%, increase her fitness to match level 11 on the Beep Test, and to overall improve on her footwork. Wendy's coach also discusses the goals he has for the team as a whole.

The effect of feedback on the playing field[edit | edit source]

It is recognised that the Self-Determination Theory (reference) and Goal-Setting Theory (reference) are fundamental theories to be relevant to gaining motivation within the sporting sector for athletes and coaches alike. It is essential to understand the type of feedback that can be delivered, and ultimately the way it is significantly communicated affects the outcomes onto the athlete (Carpentier & Mageau, 2013). Autonomous-supportive and controlling are two very different types of feedback styles found throughout many methods of feedback that is[grammar?] listed below (Carpentier & Mageau, 2013; 2016;Ward, 2011; Gershgoren, et al., 2010; Mouratidis, Vansteenkiste, Lens & Sideridis, 2008,Lorimer & Jowett, 2010; Gagnon-Dolbec, McKelvie & Eastwood, 2019; Moles, Auerbach & Petrie, 2017). Controlling feedback deters athletes from feeling intrinsic motivation towards a task, subsequently providing less free choice behaviour (Mouratidis, et al., 2008). This behaviour can sound like ‘you did as I expected’. Contrarily, autonomous-supportive feedback allows athletes to experience higher levels of self-determined motivation, self-esteem and needs satisfaction (Carpentier & Mageau, 2013).

Change-orientated feedback and promotion-oriented feedback[edit | edit source]

There has been increased research in the Change-Oriented Feedback enhancing motivation (Carpentier & Mageau, 2013; 2016) in athletes which effectively arouse well-being and performance[Rewrite to improve clarity]. Change Oriented Feedback (COF and known as Negative Feedback) is the process of identifying where performance is inadequate and what behaviours need to be modified to achieve the athlete’s goal. In contrast to this, Promotion-Oriented Feedback (POF and known as Positive Feedback) is confirming and reinforcing desirable outcomes (Carpentier & Mageau, 2013). The difference between the two approaches is noted in the goals and the consequence of the feedback - effectively motivating and guiding the athlete on a different level of performance.

Six-Factor Model of Teacher-Provided Relatedness Support, involving individualised conversation, task support, cooperation & teamwork, demonstrating awareness, showing care and friendly communication.
Figure 2. Six-Factor Model of Teacher-Provided Relatedness Support (Reeve, 2018)

Results from varying research (Carpentier & Mageau, 2013; 2016) have shown the experience athletes have with their coach-athlete relationship has been positive when they have been autonomy-supportive. It was concluded that the quality of the feedback (in comparison to quantity) had provided them with relatedness and autonomy. In contrast, athletes of POF has[grammar?] reflected on their autonomy and competence being satisfied[explain?]. These experiences were a result form{{sp} the coach’s delivery of feedback: an empathic stance, accompanied by choices of solutions, based on clear and obtainable objectives known to the athlete, supplemented with tips and given in a considerate tone of voice. The pairing[explain?] of tips provides the autonomy for the athlete to decide where they will focus their motivation, as it shifts away from self and more towards learning (Carpentier & Mageau, 2013; 2016). This study showed similar results to work of Mouratidis, et al., (2008). Controlling feedback predicted less intrinsic liking of the task and subsequent free-choice behaviour.

Feedback cannot be vague, as this leaves the athlete confused about what a ‘good job’ is, and coaches should avoid person-related feedback (Mouratidis, et al., 2008). These[grammar?] can include feedback concerning the athlete’s goodness or worthiness. This, in turn, creates vulnerability. For this reason, providing comments in a task-related perspective allows the individual to feel competent and secure.

Based on SDT, high-quality change-oriented feedback must be autonomy-supportive (Moles, Auerbach & Petrie, 2017). The results of the above research have aligned with the values of an autonomy-supportive relationship[awkward expression?]. In the flow chart displayed[where?], the line towards autonomy-supportive, change-orientated feedback is clear. Autonomy-supportive change-oriented feedback can be shown in four properties from the coach perspective[factual?]:

  1. The use of rationales to explain behaviours
  2. Considering the athlete’s perspective
  3. Accommodating with choices
  4. Avoiding controlling communication styles, such as shame and threats of punishment.

Research (Carpentier & Mageau, 2013; 2016; Mouratidis, et al., 2008) again shows characteristics of empathy, paired with choices of solutions, stabilises the athlete’s understanding of rationale. In conjunction, a coach pairing this with tips for future improvements delivered promptly and privately leads to a positive outcome for the athlete (Carpentier & Mageau, 2013).

It has been proven athletes who receive more autonomy-supportive feedback experienced higher levels of self-determined motivation, increased sense of well-being, self-esteem and autonomous motivation (Carpentier & Mageau, 2016), with links to lower levels of amotivation. However, Carpentier and Mageau (2016) have shown through their findings that COF is negatively linked to the psychological need for competence. Coaches may find it beneficial if their behaviours alter between training sessions, as situational factors can influence the response from the athletes[for example?].

Perceived motivational climate[edit | edit source]

A female soccer player, who is mid air jump after kicking a powerful kick.
Figure 3. Sporting player

The Perceived Motivational Climate (PMC) is the view athletes have of their environments and the structures within that are contributing to goal setting. Within this realm, there are two feedback perceptions, ego oriented and task-related (or mastery) orientated. The impact of the feedback about performance is based on the degree to which this feedback is task or ego involved motivational orientation (Butler, 1987) onto an athlete's intrinsic motivation. Butler (1987) explains:

Ego Involving feedback: An athlete's performance in relation to the team/competitors. E.g. praise, being superior.

Task Involving feedback: An athlete's performance in mastery, improving on the task at hand for themselves. E.g. effort and learning. In a study conducted by Gershgoren, et al. (2010), the effect of parental feedback was documented and how it has affected the PMC of 81 young, male athletes. The parents were randomly assigned to ego-orientated or task-orientated feedback conditions when providing feedback to the children after multiple sessions. The results have concluded the parental effects on the young athletes were substantial. The parent thus turns into a multi-diverse role of coach, manager and mentor. The relationship between parent and child will be a complex amalgamation of controlling and supportive autonomy styles. The study has discovered those parents who fostered a task-orientated PMC over an ego-orientated approach has shown the athletes to have significantly positive associations with performance and mastery increase on skill. The young athletes who were exposed to ego-orientated motivation were showing the early signs of amotivation and fear of game outcome affecting the parent-child relationship. It was researched that the more the child excelled in a sport, the more parental involvement there was and effectively more feedback discourse.

In support, Moles Auerbach & Petrie (2017) have researched the effects of task and ego orientated feedback on high school soccer players. The examined outcome was the relationship between motivational feedback and athletes performance, desire to persist and the choice of task difficulty. The results have supported that coaches and PMC who provided task-related feedback had lead to the satisfaction of psychological needs and boosted the intrinsic motivation. Moles, Auerbach & Petrie (2017) also noted of {{awkward{{ an 18.2% increase in the soccer player's performance on Task 2 after they have received task-related feedback, compared to a 3.75% decrease of performance in those assigned to the ego-feedback group.


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Case Study

Wendy has received both ego-orientated feedback and task-related feedback. The ego-orientated was from her parents and was focused on her scoring more kicks than her teammates. As a result, Wendy had felt self-conscious when she went near the soccer ball in play, in concern of disappointing her parents. Her coach had noticed this interaction and had noted this is not the preferred motivational style for Wendy. So, the coach had[say what?] half time spoke to Wendy in a autonomous-supportive style, focusing on task-related feedback, suggesting a technique to improve her kick. This saw Wendy to have [awkward expression?] increased self-determination to master her kicking style to improve her performance.

Amotivation[edit | edit source]

While this chapter has been about two positive frameworks of feedback towards increasing motivation, it must be recognised what negative feedback can lead to - amotivation.

Amotivation: The complete absence of both intrinsic and extrinsic types of motivation. Unwillingness or lack of motivation towards a task (as defined in Book Chapter Amotivation: What causes a lack of motivation and what can be done about it?)

Amotivation can be seen in burnt out athletes (Mouratidis, et al., 2008). Past literature has always depicted the negative impacts of COF and has failed to draw the line between the positive aspects concerning SDT. As there can be negative consequences and side effects, they should be addressed in this chapter. The COF feedback style can cause anxiety, self-esteem issues and a coach-athlete negative strain, though this can be avoided when the correct tools are provided to coaches to prevent this strain (Carpentier & Mageau, 2013; 2016). The way the feedback is communicated affects the outcomes. Therefore, the feedback provided by coaches should not be related to performance, but rather, the improvements in their performance (Mouratidis, et al., 2008).

Ego-involving PMC is primarily related to maladaptive psychological outcomes, such as amotivation and antisocial attitudes (Moles, Auerbach & Petrie, 2017). The effects may make athletes withdraw, give up or evaluate themselves harshly. It can cause distress on the athlete if they do not perform or make minor errors. In contrast, task-related feedback valued effort and opportunities for athletes to challenge themselves and open to learn (Carpentier & Mageau, 2016).

Quiz[edit | edit source]

Choose the correct answers and click "Submit":

1 Which characteristic is NOT deemed autonomy-supportive?

Empathic Accuracy
Avoiding person-related statements
Considerate tone of voice
Pairing with tips
Comparing individual against the team, publicly

2 What type of feedback would you hear from a 'task-involving' coach?

You are the best in your team, Wendy!
Your kicking style is improving, Wendy.
Get ten goals in Wendy and you are going to get the award.
Wendy, you are a natural!


Conclusion[edit | edit source]

This chapter has supported the connection between feedback and motivation, and how it is conveyed through the autonomous-supportive change-oriented feedback that is passed from coach to athlete. The effects of this feedback compound motivates an athlete through their psychological satisfaction of needs and their personal goal-setting objectives. The benefits of feedback allows improvement on performance, better response to future feedback, boosted intrinsic motivation, self determination and engagement. There could be some future direction of research in the long-term performance of feedback, in the use of a longitudinal study.

The next time you are playing your indoor competition or coaching a school team yourself, you may want to take advantage of the benefits that feedback has on optimal motivation and its effect on your performance outcome.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Butler, R. (1987). Task-involving and ego-involving properties of evaluation: Effects of different feedback conditions on motivational perceptions, interest, and performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 79, (4), 474-482.

Carpentier, J. & Mageau, G. (2013). When change-orientated feedback enhances motivation, well-being and performance: A look at autonomy-supportive feedback in sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 14, 423-435.

Carpentier, J. & Mageau, G. (2016). Predicting sport experience during training: The role of change-orientated feedback in athlete’s motivation, self-confidence and needs satisfaction fluctuations. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 38, 45-58. Doi: 10.1123/jsep.2015-0210

Gagnon-Dolbec, A., McKelvie, S. J. & Eastwood, J. (2019). Feedback, sport-confidence and performance of lacrosse skills. Curr Psychol, 38, 1622-1633. Doi: 10.1007/s12144-017-9720-7

Gershgoren, L., Tenenbaum, G., Gershgoren, A. & Eklund. R. C. (2010). The effect of parental feedback on young athlete’s perceived motivational climate, goal involvement, goal orientation and performance. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 12, 481-489. Doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2011.05.003

Locke, E. A. & Latham, G. P. (2006). New Directions in goal-setting theory. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15 (5), 265-268

Lorimer, R. & Jowett, S. (2010). Feedback of information in the empathic accuracy of sport coaches. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 11, 12-17.

Moles, T. A., Auerbach, A.D. & Petrie, T.A. (2017). Grit happens: moderating effects on motivational feedback and sport performances. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 29, (4), 418-433.

Mouratidis, A., Vansteenkiste, M., Lens, W. & Sideridis, G. (2008). The motivating tole of positive feedback in sport and physical education: Evidence for a motivational model. Journal of Sport and Exercise, 30, 240-268.

Ward, P. (2011). Goal setting and performance feedback in sport. Behavioral Sport Psychology, J.K. Luiselli, D.D. Reed (eds.). Springer Science & Business Media. Doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-0070-7_6.

External links[edit | edit source]