Discuss Methods to Improve Motivation in Sport

Revision cards for the Sport Psychology essays for WJEC PY4 exam.

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  • Created by: Flo
  • Created on: 15-06-12 12:40

Motivation in Sport

Motivation is...

  • ...the direction of effort determines which activity(ies) a person is inclined towards.
  • ...the intensity of our effort refers to how much effort a person will invest in a given activity

Motivation can influence sports and exercise in two ways:

  • The motivation to participate
  • The motivation to be successful

Extrinsic motivation is when a person is motivated by the promise of external rewards.

Intrinsic motivation comes from within and can be categorised into three categories;

  • Toward knowledge (e.g. desire to perfect a skill)
  • Toward accomplishment (e.g. desire to improve)
  • Toward experiencing stimulation (e.g. enjoyment of physical contact)
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The Addictive Principle (Levels of Motivation)

The addictive principle - a external reward may boost the motivation of an athlete with low intrinsic motivation.

  • Fortier et al (1995) found that recreational athleates had significantly higher levels of intrinsic motivation than those involved in competative sports. This suggests that introducing extrinsic motivation reduces intrinsic motivation. However, performance us not measured so whether the drop matters to sporting performance is not known. It also cannot be proven that the introduction of extrinsic motivation is the reason for the fall in intrinsic motivation.
    • Motivation difficult to measure so might not be an accurate study.
  • Amorose and Horne (2000) found that scholarship athleates had higher levels of intrinsic motivation than non scolarship athleates. This supports the adictive principle. It also contradicts the findings of Fortier et al as is seams to suggest that an extrinsic reward does improve motivation.

However, Deci and Ryan (1985) argued that extrinsic rewards can reduce intrinsic motivation if it makes an individual feel that their behaviour is now determined by the provider of the reward. It can also increase intrinsic motivation whien it provides an athlete with positive feedback about their effort.

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Goal Perspective Theory (Levels of Motivation)

Goal perspective theory (Nicholls, 1984) suggests that individuals differ in terms of their achievement goal orientation. There are two types; Ego goal orientation and Task goal orientation.

  • King & Williams (1997) found that only task orientation was related to better performance, more satisfaction and more enjoyment. This suggests that goal orientation is more important. It also suggests that task orientation is better. However, it is not a fair test as their is no opportunity to compare ego goal orientation.
  • Vlachopoulos & Biddle (1999) found only task orientation to promote success and have a positive attitude regardless of the students perceived ability. This suggests that task orientation is better which supports Kings & Williams. However, there are lots of uncertain variables in the study making it difficult to determine a causal relationship.

It has been suggested that goal perspective theory is too reductionist. Gerling et al (2004) suggested a 3rd orientation; conceptualising goal orientation which is focused on avoiding defeat.

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Motivational Climate (Improving Motivation)

Motivational Climate - coaches, teachers and team mates can effect an individuals motivation through the motivational climate they create. In a mastery climate, positive feedback is given for improvement. In a competition climate poor performance is punished.

  • Treasure (1997) found that a high competition/low mastery climate resulted in low effort, high perceived ability and high boredom. He also found that a high mastery/moderate competition climate resulted in high effort, high perceived ability and high satisfaction levels. This suggests that a mastery climate is better as without is boredom becomes apparent. However, the study doesn't take into account the students own motivation and there is no study of a low/no competition climate.
  • Bar-Eli et al (1997) found that all the best performances came in the competition climate, regardless of achievement goal orientation. This suggests that competition climate is better but, there is no room for improvement for those who are task orientated. However, the study is only a one off event, would those with an ego goal orientation come back?   
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Achievement Motivation (Improving Motivation)

Achievement motivation (McLelland et al, 1953) suggested that motivation was determined by the balance between their need to achieve (Nach) and their need to avoid failure (Naf). Achievement motivation = Nach - Naf

  • Gill (1989) found that those with high achieving (Nach > Naf) were far more likely to seek out difficult tasks, suggesting a greater degree of motivation. This supports achievement motivation as students with more achievement motivation need a more as the level of difficulty changes. However, it is uncertain whether achievement motivation predicts high performance.
  • Fodero (1980) failed to find a significant relationship between achievement motivation and performance in elite gymnasts. This suggests that achievement motivation is not a good indication of performance. At an elite level an improvement is very difficult as they are all ready at the top of their sport.
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  • Motivation is?
  • Two influences on sporting behaviour 

Measured by...

  • Intrinsic motivation/Extrinsic motivation 


  • The addictive principle
    • Evidence
  • Goal perception theory
    • Evidence
  • Improving motivation via motivational climate
    • Evidence
  • Achievement motivation
    • Evidence.
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