Is Motivation more important than ability in a successful competitive performance?

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Is Motivation more important than ability in a successful competitive performance?


Ability means that in order to learn and perform any skills, abilities are generally seen as being innate. Ability is seen as the building blocks of all sports.  

Motivation can affect our learning, our performance and even our decisions in sport. If we are not in a positive state our performance will deteriorate and we will not learn at our full potential.

Motivation = the drive to strive.

In a competitive performance, performers must be at optimum arousal to perform at their best, a formula was recognised Skill = Ability + Technique.

In this equation where does motivation really fit in?

Motivation fits into two parts of this equation, in ability and technique. If a games player isn’t motivated he/she wouldn’t be at their optimum arousal so they won’t apply their ability correctly. If the games player isn’t at optimum arousal in training for example their attitude is to think they cannot be bothered so they don’t train properly and wouldn’t learn the correct techniques which will deteriorate performance which will lead to an unsuccessful competitive performance.

This is Stallings list of psychomotor abilities. Another researcher identified the characteristics of motor performance.

  • Reaction time
  • Response orientation
  • Speed of movement
  • Finger dexterity
  • Manual dexterity
  • Response integration.

A list of abilities needed for a football player:

A list of abilities needed for a badminton player:

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In an individual game such as trampolining the abilities you would need are:


The Drive theory proposes that as arousal increases to meet the demands of the environment, so does the performance of a competitor. If you are an expert performing a skill the dominant habit is correct, so you will play even better as arousal levels increase.

Another approach is the Inverted U theory which proposes that up to a certain point arousal levels are too low for best performances. This means the sports person is just not psyched up enough ...

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