Motivation & Personality In Sports Psychology

The aim of this section is to understand how an individuals personality affects their motivation and includes need to achieve vs fear of failure, self-confidence, and experience. Some people are more naturally driven to achieve set goals than others. These people like to push and challenge themselves.

What is it within this type of person that motivates them? And why do others not have this desire? It is thought that when it comes to motivation, there are two personality types:

Need to Achieve (NACH)

  • These are the people that thrive on a challenge. They are usually determined, quick workers who take risks and enjoy being assessed.
  • Most sportspeople fall into this group.

Need to Avoid Failure (NAF)

  • These people tend to avoid challenges because they do not want to risk failing.
  • They are slow workers who avoid responsibility, are easily dissuaded from taking part and do not like being assessed.

Within those who compete in sports, there are those who are ego-oriented and those who are task-oriented.

  • Ego oriented – measure their success on beating others and being the ‘top’ competitor
  • Task-oriented – measure their success by their own achievements such as running a p.b.

Self-Confidence & motivation

The Canadian psychologist Albert Bandura identified a specific form of confidence, known as self-efficacy. This is not an overall self-confidence but varies within each situation we find ourselves in. Most people will choose to participate in sports at which they have a high self-efficacy, or belief in their ability at the task in hand.

Self-efficacy is affected by four factors:

  • Performance accomplishments – Past achievements in the activity encourage a feeling of self-efficacy
  • Vicarious experiences – Seeing someone else, who you believe to be of the same or lower standard to yourself, complete the task well provides confidence that you too can achieve
  • Verbal persuasion – Encouragement and positive words from those close to you can instill a sense of confidence
  • Emotional arousal – Control over-arousal levels provide greater self-efficacy

These four factors can help athletes with low self-efficacy to boost their confidence and perform better by:

  • Setting achievable goals and highlighting successes
  • Using a peer to demonstrate new techniques
  • Promoting support and encouragement from the athletes family and friends
  • Using stress management techniques to aid relaxation

Experience & motivation

Past performances and experiences will influence an athletes confidence. Their last performance will affect the way they approach the next performance.

Weiner related this to examinations and produced a 2D model. This was not thought to be specific enough to sports and so Roberts and Pascuzzi adapted the model in 1979.

Successes are often attributed to internal causes whereas failure is often blamed on external factors such as equipment and officials! This is called a self-serving bias.

Repeated failures or disappointments often lead to the belief that failure is inevitable in certain situations, leading to feelings that the outcome is uncontrollable. This is known as learned helplessness.

Related Posts

Scroll to Top