Sports psychology has become much more important to athletes of all levels in recent years, and plays an important role in the development of young athletes. In most team and individual sports when performing at a high level there is often sport psychology input as it is believed to have an influence on the performance of individuals and team members. Personality and motivation both have an affect on the performance of athletes. PersonalityPersonality can be defined as ‘the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character’. Theories TraitWhen psychologist first looked at athletes personalities ,their aim was to understand the effect personality traits of the athlete may have on their performance and outcomes.
Eysneck and cattell were two of the first theorists that argued, personality traits were mainly inherited, that they are fairly stable and predictable aspects of our personalities. They claimed that there are two main aspects to personality. Theses are an introversion – extroversion dimension, and a stable – neurotic dimension. Generally speaking no person is completely an introvert or completely an extrovert. Although every introvert and extrovert is different, most share certain traits and challenges.Introverts often tend to be individuals who don’t seek excitement and attention, they tend to be people who would rather be in calm environments. They often prefer tasks that require a fairly high level of concentration, and dislike the unexpected.
Some may argue that introverts may have higher than normal level of arousal and therefore don’t need need additional stimuli or excitement to function at a high level or perform well. However on the other hand extroverts tend to be described as chatty and talkative, very sociable, enjoy action. They are normally enthusiastic, friendly, and out-going. On the other hand some traits can be seen as negative, because they are sometimes described as attention-seeking, may be easily distracted, and don’t normally like to spend much time alone.Extroverts tend to become bored quickly, they may not perform well at tasks that require a lot of concentration and will often try to seek change and excitement.
Theorists tend to believe extroverts may be less responsive to pain than introverts, but that they tend to be more successful in sporting situations . This may be because they can cope with the pressure of competition, attention and other distracting situations better than introverts do. Stable individuals are people who tend to be more easy-going and even tempered. Neurotic or unstable people tend to be more restless and excitable. Theorists believe they have a tendency to become anxious, and are more highly aroused. It is also believed that the athletes who are in the unstable neurotic category have high levels of arousal at the beginning of a performance, and this could have a negative affect , which could lead to lower levels in performance. However many theorists conclude that trait views are too basic, and that personality alone doesn’t not predict success in a sporting environment.
It can, however, be used to help explain why individuals choose certain sports. It is widely believed that athletes who are considered to be Introverts tend to play or participate in individual sports such as cross country running or golf. This may be because they don’t crave excitement, high levels of stimulation and attention. Extroverts on the other hand are often drawn towards team sports that are action packed, such as rugby and football.
Psychologists think extroverts are attracted to these types of sports because they have high levels of stimulation and excitement, with changing environments. This may be what keeps the extrovert interested in the sport. SituationalThe situational approach tends to be different to the trait theories, as it suggests that behaviour is often dependent on an individuals situation or environment. Theorists also argue that this can be far more important than traits.
There may be some support for the situational approach in sporting behaviour, as individual athletes may be categorised as introverts, however these individual athletes can display characteristics such as tolerance and shyness, but also participate in a sport that requires them to be more extroverted and display characteristics like aggression in a sporting situation. InteractionalIn order to predict behaviour in a sporting situation, an individual needs to consider how the situation and personality traits link and work together. It is known as the interactional approach to personality and sport behaviour.
The interactional approach view is widely known by sport psychologists when explaining behaviour. This theory suggests that when situational factors are particularly strong, for example, during competitive sporting situations like a penalty shootout in football, they are more likely to predict behaviour than personality traits. The athlete who tends to be quiet and shy in an everyday situation is likely to run towards an ecstatic crowd screaming if he scored the winning penalty. Affects Performance Athletes v non-athletesResearch shows that there is no such thing as a universal athletic personality. However, there are some differences between athletes and non-athletes, as well as between athletes in different types of sport. Compared with non-athletes, athletes who take part in team sports as I have said previously tend to be more extroverted, when comparing to non-athletes, and athletes in individual sports tend to be more introverted.
This suggests that in order to study the differences between athletes and non-athletes, a theorist needs to consider the sport the athlete plays before reaching a conclusion, if it is to be accurate. Type A and Type B Cardiologists, Friedman and Rosenham’research over 60 years ago, suggested that there were two basic personality types among their patients, based on levels of anxiety and stress.Type A personalities were found to lack patience, have a strong desire for competition, and highly driven to achieve goals. They would rush to complete activities, found it easy to multi-task when under pressure, but lacked tolerance towards others and experienced higher levels of anxiety. Type B personalities were found to be more tolerant to others, more relaxed and reflective than type A athletes>However they experienced lower levels of anxiety and displayed higher levels of imagination and creativity.These types of personalities can be used in sports psychology to help predict how people might behave in particular situations. Motivation Motivation can be defined as “a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way”.Motivation may also be described as the drive within a person to achieve aims, however outside factors do affect it.
Motivation is very important in sport. It has a direct affect on an athletes behaviour and can influence the way an athlete thinks, feels and interacts with others. Without motivation an athlete may not be able to reach their full potential and achieve all their goals Views Trait A trait centred view is an individual characteristic which generally relate to the needs and goals of the individual athlete.
However the individual characteristics of the athlete have an affect on the individual determining their level of motivation, which in turn will determine success or failure of that athlete. SituationThe situation centred view believes that motivation is often determined by the situation or environment on the particular day of performance. Sports psychologist believe this is the most effective use to help guide and develop practice. This view also involves factors such as achievement goals, athletes perceived ability and achievement behaviour. A wide range of influences and situations can influence motivation, therefore some psychologist don’t recommend this situation centred view as best practise. InteractionThe interaction view means individuals making meaning for themselves. Motivation has been found to not result from participant factors or from situational factors. Alix (1995) discovered three variations on interactionist theory.
They were symbolic interactionism, exchange theory and dramaturgical theory. Types Intrinsic Intrinsic motivation could be someone participating in a sporting activity without a external reward or without the main motivation being the achievement of some form of external reward. Intrinsic motivation is when an athlete participates in a sport for enjoyment.
When an athlete chooses to participate in a sport which they love and enjoy, and makes them feel good or relaxed theses athletes are described as intrinsically motivated. Extrinsic Motivation Extrinsic motivation is when an athlete behaves the way they do because of some form of external mechanism. The most common forms of extrinsic motivation come through the use of tangible and intangible rewards. Tangible rewards are things that can physically be given to an athlete, like money, medals and trophies. Intangible rewards are non-physical things such as praise or encouragement. In order for extrinsic motivation to be effective, rewards need to be used effectively. If the reward is given too frequent, it may be of little value to the athlete after a period of time, which will reduce the potential impact on performance. A coach should have an in-depth knowledge of the athletes he is working with in order to maximise the effect of extrinsic rewards.
Extrinsic motivation can potentially decrease intrinsic motivation. If the extrinsic motivator is used as a method of controlling the athlete, often intrinsic motivation will decrease. If the extrinsic motivator is used to provide information or feedback to the athlete, this can then benefit intrinsic motivation. The way in which the athlete perceives and understands extrinsic motivation determines whether it will have a positive or negative effect.
Theories Achievement Motivation Athletes can be grouped into two categories. Those who need to achieve (Nach) and those who need to avoid failure (Naf). Nach athletes live for success and they keep trying when something goes wrong. They also feel a sense of pride in their accomplishments. There is less focus on comparing skill and performance against other athletes. They tend to place greater emphasis on setting realistic and challenging personal goals. Athletes who are very good at their sport and achieve success, typically set themselves challenging goals, they would rather compete against high ranking opponents and perform well when being evaluated.
Naf athletes try and avoid theses scenarios, an example would be an athlete with low achievement motivation would prefer to play against a poor opponent so they can achieve success. Everyone has aspects of both Nach and Naf, but the balance of the two motives determines a persons achievement motivation. Attribution Theory The attribution theory in sport looks at how people explain their success and failure.
Attributions provide explanations for successes or failures and fall into one of these categories: l Stability- is the reason permanent or unstable winning example: ‘I out played my opponent.’ Losing example: ‘I was poor against my opponent’ l Causality- is the reason something that comes from an external or internal factor. Winning example: ‘I really did try my best’. Losing example: ‘I didn’t try hard enough’ l Control- is the reason under your control. Winning example: ‘I trained really hard for this match’.
Losing example: ‘I could have trained harder for this match’ Being aware of these can help athletes to understand key factors such as the motivation behind certain behaviour and the expectations of future success and failure. For example, a golfer attributing their points victory to stable,internal and controllable factors is more likely to feel confident and motivated to continue with playing golf because they believe in themselves and that they will win again. Affect on performance Positive motivation(Ruskin,Proctor & Neeves 2007) describe positive motivation as a ‘response that takes place performs well because they have received rewards such as money or trophies when they have played well and won previously. The athlete understands that preforming at this level will provide similar rewards or better. Positive motivation needs continual self rwhen performance is driven by previous reinforcing behaviours’. this means that the athlete einforcement, also reinforcement from family, friends, coach and everyone involved with the athlete.
These relationships have a big effect on the level of motivation the athlete has before competing or playing. The coach will need to use positive motivation techniques such as praising and encouraging the athlete, concentrate on strengths rather than weaknesses, communicate effectively and always be organised and in control, always offering support whatever the results. Negative motivation(Ruskin,Proctor & Neeves 2007) suggest that negative motivation is as a result of improvement in performance because of fear of the consequences such as a lack of good performance. An example may be a rugby player working hard on the pitch to avoid being pulled up by the coach at the end of the game for not pulling their weight. However it is recognised that negative motivation can decrease the athletes self-esteem and self-confidence. There are still many coaches who try to motivate athletes by using intimidation, fear,and threats. This may appear to work short-term, but long- term this motivation isn’t good.
Motivational ClimateMotivational climate is described by (Amnes1992) as the psychological environment that the coach creates. This is done by planning sessions to include feedback and good instruction, this will help the athlete in both training and competition. This has proved to have a positive impact on the athlete in the form of participation, enjoyment and general interest. Motivational climate can be split into two different forms.
Task or mastery involved, and ego-involved or performance environment. Theory suggests that athletes who support task goals tend to be more resilient and confident than those who are ego-involved, because they don’t need to always be better than others to feel good about themselves. Also the coach will give praise, treat them all fairly and recognise and reward task mastery and individual performance. Evaluation When comparing and evaluating the effects of personality and motivation on sports performance, it is clear to see how vital motivation is to an athlete, because it influences how an athlete thinks, feels, and interacts with their team mates. Basically without motivation an athlete won’t reach their full potential. However there is no direct link between personality type and success in sporting performance. Personality can suggest why an athlete is interested and drawn towards a particular sport.
I have also failed to find evidence that personality type will make you a better athlete. An athletes personality can change as their perception of their environment changes, for example an athlete may be the captain of his rugby team where he would show leadership skills, and shortly after be working in a job where they would have to follow instruction and be told what to do. There is no athletic personality to predict successful performances, but in some small studies psychologists thought that successful athletes displayed lower levels of fatigue, depression,confusion and anger, and increased levels of energy and enthusiasm. It has been calculated that personality accounts for less than 1% of performance variation.
Therefore in my opinion from what I have read and researched,motivation appears to have the biggest influence on over all sport performance.