Sports performance

Biddell said that performers who are intrinsically motivated are more likely to participate in a sport for a longer time period than those who are not. In the premier league to measure players ‘performance’ they use Prozone. This is a method introduced to measure every detail of a player’s performance. It measures from how far they run to how many shots they have in one game. This involves cameras being placed around the premier league grounds so that it allows every aspect of a player’s game to be analysed statistically. This provides an accurate account of a player’s performance within the game.

However motivation is not the only factor that is needed for a high level of sporting performance. There is a skill level needed to play elite sport, for example the skill that Cristiano Ronaldo shows week in week out, separates him from the average footballer in the local park. Leadership is also key. Recently Fabio Capello has been appointed the England manager. He brings with him a strict regime on what the players can and can’t do. This leadership will no doubt affect the performance of the England players but for better or for worse we shall have to wait and see.

Visualisation can be important to succeed in elite sport. Steve Backley, once the world record holder of the javelin, stressed the importance of the need to visualise your sport or event in a positive way, in his book ‘The Winning Mind’. Different levels of arousal will affect your performance in different situations. You need to ensure that your arousal levels are at the right standard for your sport. For example Manchester United was top of the premier league table by 7 points and they suffered from under arousal due to the lack of competition and lost focus.

They allowed Chelsea to catch them up which then motivated them again and spurred them on to win yet another premier league title under Sir Alex Ferguson. However over arousal can also have a negative effect. Jimmy white, normally a calm and collective snooker player suffered from over arousal in the world championship final against Steven Hendry. He mist relatively easy shots he would make 9/10 times in other situations were his arousal levels would be lower. He lost the title as a result of failure to control his arousal levels. Slimily John McEnroe was often accused of being over aroused with his famous on court tantrums in tennis.

He would lose concentration for a couple of games after he had felt a decision went against him and this cost him vital points. The coach needs to ensure that the arousal levels can be controlled to prevent this from happening. Sports psychologists seen him to be a victim of his failure to control his arousal levels. In team sports such as rugby the coach and the captain are responsible for the team’s motivation. It is ok in them making sure the team has a high level of motivation for the game but they cannot control a player’s decision making and information processing.

They can still lose a game by a player making the wrong decision regardless of how motivated the individual is. In the Wales vs Italy match in 2006 the welsh fly half Stephen Jones decided to kick for touch in the closing stages instead of going for the try. As the ball went into touch the referee blew for full time so the chance to win was lost. The decision making of Stephan Jones cost his country a vital win in the six nations. The English world cup winning mastermind Sir Clive Woodward said that he told his players they needed their ‘heart in the fire and their head in the fridge.

This meant they needed to play with controlled aggression and have the ability to make tactical decisions at crucial times. Racket sports such as tennis require hard physical work but there is a need for a clear head to make choices mid rally. I. e. to play the drop shot, to move in off the base line or to try a lob shot. The best player arguably to play the game Roger Federer is the master of this practice. He rarely makes a bad decision in a game and with his ferocious forehand this adds to his domination of the sport. He is out on the court on his own and yet he manages to stay motivated by himself.

He controls his arousal levels so that his decision making and information processing is kept at his very high standards. In sport it is imperative you are motivated to train hard and posses the desire to improve and gain new skills. All the hard work put in behind the scenes is what pays off when performing in a match. For example Johnny Wilkinson has mastered the goal kicking in Rugby Union. As he is so motivated he stays behind after training to kick 30 conversions. The desire to rehearse the motor skill is what makes him such an admirable sports personality.

He has practised so much to the stage where he is almost perfect. However this will not stop him as he is so motivated he will continue to train to perfect this skill even more. Steve Backley said motivated people can be split into two groups. ‘Those who want to win and those who don’t want to lose. ‘ In other words, is the golfer who faces a 6-foot put for $500,000 thinking about the money and glory he will gain, or the money he will lose and the ridicule he will face if he misses? Different sportspersons will have different goals they wish to achieve.

A footballer in the calibre of Wayne Rooney would aim to win the Premier League and also achieve for his country. A high class mountain climber would strive to climb a mountain of the stature of Everest. Sir Edmond Hillary was the first to accomplish this goal and will forever be remembered as the first man who concord the biggest mountain in world. A triathlete would set out to beat their previous time and to push their body even further to the limit. A triathlon is one of the most gruelling fitness tests known to man and only the most physically and mentally tough of humans, can be motivated enough to complete the event.

An individual’s skill level will depend on how they should be motivated. A professional footballer such as Ryan Giggs may need to be negatively reinforced sometimes. This would involve a ranting and raving session from Sir Alex Ferguson saying something along the lines of ‘you must improve or your coming off. ‘ On the other hand a beginner should be motivated through positive reinforcement. The coach should concentrate on the good things they do and not put the skill under too much pressure as this may discourage the player. Using praise such as ‘ well done, keep it up, your doing well.

‘ Motivation in sport is detrimental to enhancing sports performance. The right blend in the right way is key to success. If the arousal levels are correct for the sport this will most definitely improve a sporting performance. The famous American Football coach Vince Lombardi once said ‘ Leaders aren’t born, they’re made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work, determination and motivation. ‘


www. bbc. co. uk/sport The Winning Mind ( Steve Backley Autobiography ) The Times Book of Quotations

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