The Importance of Motivation vs. Ability in a Competitive Performance

The Importance of Motivation vs. Ability in a Competitive Performance

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The Importance of Motivation vs. Ability in a Competitive Performance

In order to be able to learn and perform any skill, especially in
sport, we must have the abilities required. Knapp (1963) defined
ability as "our innate physical attributes that determine our
potential for a given sport".

"Motivation. If we are not in a positive psychological state, we will
make mistakes in performance and will not learn to perform at our
best". (Advanced PE for Edexcel. Heinemann Educational Publishers,
2000)

The sport itself can affect the type of motivation required and the
effect this has on the performance. Individual sports such as
swimming, require a lot of intrinsic motivation due to the fact they
are competing alone. Intrinsic motivation comes from within the player
and can involve different things depending on the player for example
using imagery or self talk (1). In this kind of situation an athlete
is forced to be responsible for their own actions and decisions,
something a highly motivated player with confidence will recognise and
appreciate. They will use this responsibility to their advantage, as
they feel in control. This combined with their ability to compete and
perform will enhance the success of their overall performance.

Team sport players use a lot of extrinsic motivation (1) from their
other team members, as well as intrinsic motivation. Most racket
sports can either be played in pairs or alone, and so this will affect
the amounts of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation required.

Biddel (1984) suggested "extrinsic motivation is of benefit at first
and can drive individuals to participate and work hard initially, but
in long term extrinsic motivation is not enough on its own.

Ability is essential in making a performance successful, regardless of
what type of activity it is, but motivation levels varies for type of
activities. As well as motivation enhancing performance, it can also
work the other way round, and the ability to perform well can improve
motivation. Abilities are needed to perform skills in sport

Arousal can also help or hinder players of sport (3).

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Players can be
both over-aroused and under-aroused. Both can lead to a decline in
performance. Motivation can affect a player's level of arousal and if
a player is aroused to an optimum level, performance will be greatly
increased. Hull's drive theory (4) can help explain this. Performance
= habit x drive. Increased levels of arousal are said to bring about
the dominant response. While learning, this dominant response is
usually incorrect as the athlete is still prone to mistakes. So any
increase in arousal will probably result in an increase in
performance. This is why experienced players perform better under
pressure.

Over arousal or stress, can affect our ability to make decisions. For
example if a rugby player was to perform with a high level of arousal
this may result in them starting a fight but could still improve their
performance, because they will work harder, but if a snooker player
performed with a high level of arousal then they would not be able to
concentrate because they will be too excited and they need to be calm
so their performance would decrease. Under arousal and little
motivation leads to a negative performance because of a lack of
effort. The inverted U theory (5) can help to explain this. Because
the inverted U theory says that performance only increases with
arousal to a certain point.

In all sports ability is used to complete a successful performance,
but some sports require a certain amount of motivation as well as
ability to complete a successful performance e.g. 100m sprinter. So
motivation helps a lot sometimes but is not needed as much as ability
to complete a successful performance.
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