The psychological readiness

Arousal is the psychological readiness to perform a task. Galligan et al. (2002) defined arousal ‘Arousal is the level of psychological readiness’. Our body’s arousal levels have vast consequences on our ability to perform certain things. Arousal affects; performance, attitude and finally learning of skills. The effects of arousal on the mind and body can be both positive and negative. We can both be over and also under aroused, both of these factors lead to a decline in performance.

Motivation has a very big effect on arousal, motivation leads to a state of arousal due to adrenaline being produced, which consequently has physiological responses such as an increase in heart rate for example. If a performer controls their individual arousal levels during or even before their event, then it can be very beneficial. Over arousal is very easy to fall into the trap of. When this occurs, we s not think clearly therefore our decision making ability decreases and becomes more erratic.

This results in poor rushed decisions and a drop in performance. An example of over arousal is Wayne Rooney in Euro 2004 against Portugal in the Quarter-final stages. This was a new experience to the young English star so therefore he put in a lot of effort when it was not needed like chasing down lost causes. The outcome of this was Rooney breaking a metatarsal bone in his foot after he chased a needless ball down. As well as over arousal being a negative issue that effects performance, under arousal is not beneficial to a performance either.

Being under aroused simply means you are not motivated enough. This lack of motivation causes a lack of effect on the game and leads to complacency. The performer usually loses concentration in this case, which leads to unforced errors and mistakes. Examples of these are any sort of upsets where the weaker or un-favoured team prevail against the stronger team. Everton vs. Shrewsbury town in the FA Cup is a good example, Everton are far the stronger team but were obviously under motivated as they lost and got knocked out.

This was probably down to the fact that they thought that, as Shrewsbury was in a lower division that they didn’t have to try as hard as they normally would. As a performer’s arousal level increases the state of readiness is generally supposed to increase, but if the level of arousal gets too high a performer can lose concentration and feel over aroused. This relationship between arousal and performance can be explored through the use of graphs and different theories behind them. This was first developed by Hull in 1944.

This theory sees the relationship between arousal and performance as linear: performance increase in proportion to arousal. For example a very high arousal level would equal a high performance level. Yerkes and Dobson first put forward this theory in 1908. According to this theory, as the level of arousal increases so does the level of performance- but only to an optimum point, which occurs at a moderate arousal level. Once at this level, performance decreases as participants in sport can become over aroused and anxious and their performance usually suffers.

Arousal When exploring motivation and arousal in far greater detail, more theories become apparent and can be related to the topic better. A scientist by the name of Atkinson first brought ‘Achievement motivation’ to light in 1974. This Is his theory that all individuals are motivated by different factors and when presented with choices, our decisions are effected by motivation. Atkinson recognised that there were two types of sporting personality, nAch and naF. nAch is when individuals in a sport portray themselves, as they need to achieve, and naF is need to avoid failure.

What this theory basically means is that if a person is high in nAch, then they will be striving for success and will constantly want to aim high and impress others. Whereas if a person if high in naF then that person will be unlikely to take any risks and will do anything to avoid failure. nAch and naF are inversely proportional to eachother. Therefore someone who is high in nAch is likely to be low in naF and vice versa. Achievement motivation can be directly linked to a sportsman or woman’s personality.

Someone who is an extrovert would be considered to be high in nAch, whereas someone who is an introvert would be considered to be high in naF. Top-level performers who are high in nAch are people like Thierry Henry and Zinadeine Zidane as they both play up to the crowds and like to show off their talent to extremes. Whereas performers such as Paula Radcliff in the 2004 Olympics are high in naF as she would rather pull out and avoid failure than finish not first. To be a successful sports performer and perform to a high standard in every competition or event, motivation needs to be at an optimum level every time.

Motivation is a defining and prominent role in sports psychology and will continue to be for years to come. Theorists, scientists and other experts in this field will continue to conjure up theories that will challenge the last one invented. Motivation s not just used in the sporting world, people are motivating themselves everyday to do very simple day-to-day jobs and will continue to do so. Each person has there own unique way of arousing and motivating themselves and no matter how many times somebody tries to categories this, it will never be 100% accurate.

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