The role of motivation in enhancing a sports performance

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The role of motivation in enhancing a sports performance can be key to a performers success or failure. In this essay I am going to discuss how certain factors effect motivation such as personality and also the different types of rewards a sport person can gain. I will do this by using three different sporting examples; cricket, golf and tennis. I am also going to look at theories from Deci(1971) and Lepper, Greene and Nisbet(1973) and also Atkinson(1974). Sport players can have a variety of different motivation.

A sports person who plays in a local cricket league will have different motivation than someone that plays for England. A local player’s motivation is mainly intrinsic rewards such as satisfaction, feeling good and achievement and pursuing the activity for its own sake. Due to the fact that if you are playing in a local team it is for fun and to keep you fit etc, therefore you have intrinsic rewards. However they can also get motivation from extrinsic rewards by gaining praise and trophies. Where as a player that plays for England, is a cricket professional and they have a lot more extrinsic rewards.

These are intangible such as praise, fame and winning along side tangible rewards such as money and trophies, such as the world cup. The reason for the two different types of motivation is due to the fact that a professional is playing the game but at the same time it is their job therefore they need to make money out of their sport, this money can mainly be gained by winning trophies, gaining fame and getting praise. However because they are in the spotlight their motivation can be damaged easily by negatives such as defeat which could damage their career. This is known as positive and negative reinforcement.

Also when a sports player starts playing a sport the motivation is mainly intrinsic motivation but by adding an extrinsic reward it can help motivate younger players. A basic principle of human behaviour is the Law of Effect. This is when a coach rewards a basic action and therefore increases the probability that the person will repeat this action. Therefore this is why the ECB and other governing bodies of sport have set up reward schemes for youngsters so that they have the motivation to train and try to improve on skills so that they can get an extrinsic rewards such as a certificates or badge.

However Deci (1971) and Lepper, Greene and Nisbett (1973) show that, “in certain circumstances, adding external rewards to a situation that is already intrinsically motivating actually decreases that intrinsic motivation and may replace it, so that when the reward is no longer available interest in the activity wanes”. This can be applied to all three of my sports. In golf the intrinsic rewards which you can gain are satisfaction, achievement and feeling good if you beat an opponent.

However if an external reward is added such as a 1,000,000 reward for winning, the intrinsic rewards now seem no where near as important as the motivation to win because of the money reward and now the golfer no longer wants to gain satisfaction, achievement and feeling good but to win this extrinsic reward. This reward therefore can act as a distraction for the golfer intrinsic desire to work at his or hers own pace.

In cricket a player also has the same intrinsic sources as a golfer. When an external reward is added an individual may feel that this turns the sport from play into work. Such as signing a professional contract and getting paid to play the game.

This can increase the extrinsic motivation but decrease and may even replace the sports persons intrinsic motivation. Therefore once this professional contract ends and the player no longer gets paid to play the sport the intrinsic sources which made them want to play the sport in the first place, have gone and they therefore do not have the motivation to play the sport anymore. Personality can also influence a persons motivation. Atkinson (1974) suggests there are two personality factors contributing to achievement motivation “a) the need to achieve (Nach) and b) the need to avoid failure (Naf)”

This therefore means people with a high need to achieve usually tend to have a low need to avoid failure and people with a high need to avoid failure have a low need to achieve. An example of this could be in tennis. Where Andrew Murray for example who is an up and coming tennis player could have the chance to play in Wimbledon or play in a local tennis tournament. If his personality was that he needed to achieve he would play in the Wimbledon tournament, although the chance of avoiding failure is very low he would not worry because his personality means he has a need to achieve.

Where as if his personality means he needs to avoid failure he would play in the local tournament where the avoidance of failure is very high, however he would not gain a great amount of achievement where as if he had played in Wimbledon and won. Therefore nearly all professionals have a need to achieve and not a need to avoid failure. This is because they have to take the risk to become better such as playing at a very high level to improve, even if they may lose in the process. In conclusion there are many different factors which can affect a sports persons motivation.

These are mainly controlled by intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, however personality can also have an effect. The main motivation for anybody to start playing sport are the intrinsic sources, but as a player becomes better, more and more extrinsic rewards can be introduced which can lead the player away from their original intrinsic motivation and this extrinsic motivation replace them. This is not a problem until the extrinsic rewards are removed and therefore the sports person has no motivation to play the sport anymore.

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy Also, sports psychologists believe that type A and B personalities affect the way sports persons perform. Type A personalities are …

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