MOTIVATION = THE DRIVE TO STRIVE
An athletes motivation often predicts their attendance to that particular sport for example an intrinsically motivated boxer such as Joe Calazagi trains very hard and his fights must be painful, so what motivates him to continually push his body physically? Another good example is Evander Holyfield at the age of thirty-eight many boxers would have retired long ago but his motivation, desire and love of boxing still drives him on. Both these fighters gain personal enjoyment and whenever talk of retirement is mentioned they sweep it under the carpet. Whereas a less motivated boxer such as Prince Naseem Hammed who fights for extrinsic reasons would be someone who continues their sport to become better at it solely to win medals- maybe that’s why he takes loosing so poorly. He was one of the most exciting and talented boxers in his class but he has not had a fight in almost two years and seems to have thrown his career away. This is why he will never be remembered as one of the great ‘s despite having the ability to become one.
Elite performers who are very wealthy still contribute to their sports but not for the money so they must be intrinsically motivated. Ian Thorpe is a good example of this, Even though he knew he wasn’t going to win the backstroke at the commonwealth games he still participated because he wanted to prove to himself that he could do it.
"If I put everything INTO it, I can't lose. I mightn't win in terms of gold medals, but I will win my own personal battle. And that's what it's all about.”
Another example of an intrinsically motivated performer is Johnny Wilkinson. His willingness to be the best and the want to always do better is obvious.
“Whenever I play I make sure I represent myself to the best of my ability.
I work hard trying to get fitter, faster, more powerful, increase my ability to be more agile, beat people. I can't stand to rest and watch others overtake me, if I've got time I'll try and use it positively.”
Although most sports people proceed with their sport for intrinsic reasons, at some stage in their career they must have been extrinsically motivated. Because one would expect that they must have started out for the money but when they become more successful and make more and more money. Their intrinsic motivated would increase because they are financially stable but they still carry on performing because it has become a way of life which they enjoy thoroughly.
Ability is another important component of performing well. Ability can be defined as how well you perform a specific task. It can be physical e.g. David Beckham is a physically able football player, or it can be mental in a way which is explored in a game of chess.
Ability is the genetic make up of an athlete, which we inherit from our parents. For example a stereotypical view would be that if we are of average height, reasonably strong, have good co-ordination and have a majority of fast twitch muscle fibres, then you would be seen as having the perfect make up to become a good sprinter.
Ability is mostly innate, you are either born with it or it is acquired early in life. It cannot really be acquired but because ability is closely linked with technique and skill if these two factors are improved the result will be that ability improves with them.
Skill = Ability + Technique
Both ability and motivation are essential in a competitive sporting performance. But it is hard to say which is more important. Many football experts don’t rank David Beckham as one of the best players in the world and by watching him play you can see he has a degree of natural ability but it isn’t anywhere near that of his college at Real Madrid Zinadine Zidane. But his motivation as a youngster and his commitment (or some would say strive to win) once on the pitch means he often outperforms the more talented player.
Some people might say that ability is more important. This could be because to be able to learn and perform any skill in sport you must have the necessary ability. One argument that shows ability to be more important is that you cannot compete successfully if you don’t have the ability. In an individual sport such as tennis you have to rely on your own ability because if you are not good enough at the sport you will not be successful even if you have the motivation, as the competition is so great. However if you lack ability in a team game such as football it is not as important because you are part of a team who all contribute to the team’s success. Although football requires a lot of natural ability to be a good performer, it’s still enjoyable to play even you don’t have the natural ability, so you can still participate and be part of a successful team if only one person in the team is not up to the standard.
“Those who are highly motivated are more likely to learn and practice skills than those who are not”. Bidell (1982)
If you don’t have the ability then you may not be successful but a high level of motivation to train could improve your ability in a particular area of that sport such as David Beckham’s ability to take free kicks.
Another argument is that motivation is more important than ability, this means that the athlete who is highly motivated knows the importance of physical preparation, and as a result the athlete is well conditioned and physically prepared to meet the demands of the competition.
Even if you have the natural ability and are good at your particular sport it doesn’t matter because if you have no motivation then you won’t want to play. A particular person might be a very good rugby player but they might not like rugby as much as football, even if they have less talent. They would not be motivated to play the sport they are good at as they don’t have a great interest in that particular sport. They would much rather play the sport they enjoy and therefore there lack of motivation results in wasted talent.
However lack of motivation does not necessarily mean that the athlete cannot perform successfully but does not want to.
Part of this argument may also depend on what the performer themselves want to achieve, if the performer wants to generally improve at their sport, then motivation is essential because they cannot improve if they are not motivated. However if they want to be the very best at their specific sport (Johnny Wilkinson), then although ability is the more important aspect because you have to be good at your sport to be the best, motivation is also important because being the best at something requires immense dedication.
It seems that there are many people who have the natural ability to perform well, but few who have the motivation and drive to do what it takes to succeed at the every highest level. Therefore although both intrinsic motivation and ability are important for a successful competitive performance, it is the motivation, the drive to do something which determines how much someone can achieve in a competitive sporting performance. Therefore the more motivated you are the more you can achieve this is quite a broad statement but it has ben proven by some of the greatest performers in the world of sport.
- Advanced PE for Edexcel
- Physical Education and Sport – Honneybourne
- Class notes