Discuss Internal Factors Affecting Sporting Performance

WJEC PY4 revision cards on Internal Factors Affecting Sporting Performance

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  • Created on: 16-06-12 10:39

Internal Factors Affecting Sporting Performance

Arousal can be defined as a psychological and physiological activation, ranging from deep sleep to extreme excitement.

Locus of control is a concept derived from attribution theory. The locus of control refers to a general belief about the way things happen, rather than a specific situation.

An internal locus of control is the belief that what happens is possible to control. Factors which determine success/failure are unstable and uncontrollable.

An external locus of control is a belief that events in life are beyond rational control. Factors which determine success/failure are stable and uncontrollable.

Attribution theory explains why internal and external attributions are made about things that have been done. 

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Drive Theory

Drive theory suggests that performance, on a simple task, will be determined by the level of our arousal and our skill level.

Performance =  arousal x skill level

When arousal is high, this elicits our dominant response. If skill level is high, then our dominant response will be the correct response and performance will be high quality. 

  • Davis & Harvey (1992) found that high pressure (high arousal) was associated with a decline in the standard of batting. Suggests that drive theory is incorrect, as elite athletes were tested their dominant response should be good. However, batting is a complicated task. Drive theory doesn't allow for this.
    • It is very difficult to measure arousal in real life events such as a sports match, making drive theory difficult to falsify.

Difficulties with testing Drive theory led researchers to consider alternatives. The most popular of which is Inverted U theory. This suggests that the relationship between arousal is curvy linear. 

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Inverted U Theory

Inverted U theory suggests that too much or too little arousal will result in a low standard of performance. An optimum level of arousal will result in peak performance.

The Yerkes-Dawson rule suggests that the optimum level of arousal would be lower for complex tasks than for simple tasks.

  • Sonstroem & Bernardo (1982), found optimum performance was recorded with moderate arousal, with poor performance at high and low levels of arousal. This shows that moderate arousal produces optimum performance (their results formed an Inverted U). However, assumption of arousal is not generalisable and game stats composite can be misleading as other factors can change it and its very subjective.
  • Gould et al (1987) found that the results of an accuracy test with trainee police officers produced an inverted U. This is stronger support for the Inverted U theory and is a more precise measure of performance increasing the reliability of the results.

There are problems with the Inverted U however, it is difficult to measure arousal in real life and it is unethical to push someone hard enough, this could also result in serious health concerns.

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Catastrophe Theory

Catastrophe theory (Fazey & Hardy, 1988), suggests that small changes in anxiety could result in total failure.

  • Hardy et al (1994) found that high cognitive anxiety = increasing physiological arousal resulted in a catastrophic decline in performance. This supports catastrophe as there is a rapid decline in performance when highly aroused. however, Hardy et al also found that low cognitive ability = very little chance in performance which suggests that inverted U theory is incorrect as low levels of arousal are not effecting performance.
  • Cohen et al (2003) found no evidence to support catastrophe theory. However, it is possible that the 'threat' of electric shock during the study was not taken seriously and so cognitive anxiety was never increased making the results of the study meaningless.  
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Locus of Control

Cox (1998), presumes that an internal LoC is preferable so that people attribute success to themselves and recognise their ability to change future outcomes if they have failed.

  • Dweck (1975), found that students begin to place a greater emphasis on motivation rather ability as a reason for failure and were more unimpaired by the experience of failure (i.e. more successful in the future). This suggests that an internal locus of control is better as it allows people to recognise the control they have over their lives (suggests free will).
  • Orbach etal (1999), found that students students whose LoC shifted towards internal LoC had high expectations of future success and experienced positive emotions. This suggests, like Dweck, that an internal LoC is preferable. However, performance hasn't been measured  (they're beginner tennis players), but, if they were not beginners their LoC would be harder to move.
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Zone of Optimal Functioning

Zone of optimal functioning (Hain, 1986), suggests that each athlete has a 'zone of optimal function' or ZOF, within which their anxiety level would be optimal for them to perform consistently at their best.

  • Harin (1988) found major differences in the in the precomposition of female elite rowers but also found that performance was complex. This suggests that each individual athlete was responding to anxiety in a different way, supporting ZOF theory.
  • Inlay et al (1995),found athletes in their ZOF perform well 63% of the time (only performed badly 31% of the time. This suggests that there is a ZOF but, just being in the ZOF does not guarantee good performance - other factors could be affecting the athletes performance. 
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Discuss Internal Factors affecting Sporting Perfor

  • Arousal
  • Drive
    • Evidence
  • Inverted U
    • Evidence
  • Catastrophe Theory
    • Evidence
  • Zone of Optimal Functioning
    • Evidence

If have time...

  • Attribution
  • Locus of control
    • Evidence
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