Motivation is a key element in sports psychology. Investigation into motivation continues to this day and many theorists persist to propose legitimate theories and explorations. Sage (1974) stated that motivation is ‘The internal mechanisms and external stimuli which arouse and direct our behaviour’. Exploring Sage’s theory further, he believes that motivation concerns inner drives towards a goal as well as an external drive or pressure.
He also considers the body’s arousal levels as another significant factor in motivation. However, Clarke (1999) believes that motivation is the ‘Internal process that creates and maintains the desire to move toward goals’. This theory is stating that motivation is produced inside the body and no external factor factors should affect it. In simple terms, motivation is ‘The drive to strive’. This translates to the individual must have a desire or stimulation to do something, therefore being motivated to do so.
The question of how do we get motivated is a question that many theorists may ask and investigate in great detail. Firstly encouragement and praise gives the individual an incentive, also wanting to prove people wrong and being motivated off other people’s energy and enthusiasm are factors concerning this too. Motivation influences both the mind and body, as well as this; attitude, decision making and performance are all affected by motivation too.
When investigating motivation further, it can be broken down into two separate styles, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is a term used for the internal drives to participate or perform well. Such drives or emotional feelings include fun, enjoyment in participating and the satisfaction that can be felt through playing a particular game. PBS (2001) claims that intrinsic motivation is the ‘Internal thoughts or feelings that feed one’s desire to achieve, perform, or become involved in activities or events’.
This statement I believe is correct but only to a certain extent as it fails to touch on features such as personal accomplishment and social approval. Biddell (1984) suggested that ‘Intrinsically motivated performers are more likely to continue participating in sport than those who are not’ I can relate this to an example where intrinsic motivation is involved. Steve Redgrave has now retired from international rowing but before this, had won his fifth extraordinary Olympic gold medal in Sydney, 24 years after taking rowing up as a schoolboy.
For most people wining just one Olympic gold medal would be an achievement itself, but Redgrave’s intrinsic mind craved more and he continued with the help of his various rowing teams, to win four more. External factors can be extremely powerful in determining what sport we choose. Extrinsic motivation occurs when a person takes part in a activity for the material gain to be received from it- these rewards often come in the form of things such as medals, badges and most importantly nowadays money. An example of a sports person being extrinsically motivated is the former boxer- Chris Eubank.
Eubank actually openly admitted that he didn’t actually enjoy boxing and only participated in the sport due to the financial gains and rewards available. Biddell (1984) suggested that ‘extrinsic motivation is of great benefit at first, but in the long term extrinsic motivation is not enough’ What Biddell is explaining here is that after all the trophies or money has been earned, it is only the desire and passion for the sport that drives the individual to continue participating. Here is an integrated example of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
A child who is learning to swim and who enjoys it can be motivated further by giving them swimming badges (both intrinsic and extrinsic). After a time, when the child has achieved lots of badges he/she could lose interest as there are no more rewards to be had. This shows that rewards were assuming too much importance and the intrinsic motives lost. On the other hand the young swimmer may experience more enjoyment in swimming because of the inner drive to achieve something worthwhile, which may then give the child a lifelong love of swimming.