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?

In this essay I will investigate whether motivation is more important than ability in team games, racket sports and individual activities. By looking at sources on the Internet, in text books and sports papers; as well as adding graphic examples, I should hopefully be able to answer this question.

Before I begin however, I must build up a series of definitions in order to help explain the question. The Edexcel Advanced PE book describes motivation as the ‘Drive to Strive’, while Kent describes it as ‘the internal state which tends to direct a person’s behaviour towards a goal’. The English Dictionary describes ability as ‘A natural or acquired skill or talent’ or ‘someone’s natural aptitude or acquired proficiency.’ Therefore this question asks if, under competitive pressure, a side or person with a lower level of skill or talent than their opponent can win if their mental drive is higher.

        There are many examples that argue this case. Firstly there are the team games. In this instance it would seem that ability is more important than motivation, with the best football teams finishing at the top of their leagues, while the ones with less ability coming last. Similarly in the Athens Olympics, the British coxless fours had the best ability and won. However there are still many instances when motivation has beaten ability. Again in Athens, the American 4 x 100m relay team were beaten by the better motivation of the British team. While in football, this year’s FA Cup witnessed Burnley beating Liverpool. Their motivation outdoing the ability of the Premiership side.

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        Meanwhile in racquet sports upsets of ability are even more common. This could be that in a team, there is more chance that someone will be highly motivated and this, in turn, can motivate the rest of the team. However, in racquet sports the person has to bring the motivation from within and if the crowd is against them this can be very difficult. For example in the last 30 years, the male 1st seed has won Wimbledon just 12 times, and only twice has the title of Champion been contested by the top two seeds with the 1st seed coming out ...

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