The Psychology of Winning – Are You Motivated By Fear or Desire

Pre-game and halftime pep talks can inspire players and athletes but I don’t believe it can motivate them. I don’t believe in motivational speeches or motivational speakers, what I like to call them are inspirational speeches or inspirational speakers. Such speeches from your manager, coach or team player can inspire you to dig deep inside yourself and become motivated, therefore, personal motivation comes from deep within you. This is known as internal motivation rather than external motivation.

For so long it has been believed that personal motivation is an extraneous factor, that it can be forced in from the outside by incentives, pep talks and high salaries that dominate a lot of professional sports. Personal motivation actually springs from inside an athlete and is a force that moves athletes towards or against taking an action. Therefore if personal motivation is subjective, it may seem to suggest that everything an individual does, whether positive or negative, intentional or unintentional it is the result of motivation.

To put it simply, we can be motivated towards an object or situation or away from an object or situation. In sport most athletes have a strong positive self motivation. Athletes and players that pursue a career over ten to fifteen years need to have a strong self motivation and also the ability to move in the direction of goals they have set. This is why goal setting is one of the fundamental tools of sports psychology. When an athlete or team sets specific and realistic goals, they then implement a plan to move towards those goals and what keeps them moving towards the goal is their level of motivation.

Motivation is also an emotional state and is dominated by two key emotions, fear and desire. Both fear and desire have opposite but equally effective results. Fear is a powerful negative motivator and athletes that fear losing or looking bad on the playing field will have problems throughout their playing careers. On the other hand, desire is a positive powerful motivator and encourages athletes to achieve their goals. Athletes that fall into the category of fear can possibly benefit from a sports psychologist or a Performance Mind Coach.

Players that feel fear vividly replay haunting experiences of when they played poorly in the past and this can be a persistent reminder that the same experiences are likely to repeat themselves again in the future. My advice is simply express the talent that you have rather than holding it back because you fear what others may think or feel. Athletes that fall into the category of desire will seek out memories of great performances and success and will excite the need to replay these great performances and even create new winning experiences in the future. Therefore it is important for athletes to concentrate their thoughts on the results they want to achieve rather than focusing on what they fear and don’t want to happen.

Leaders and high achievers are self motivated and always move in the direction of what they are thinking about most. Remember that leaders and high achievers may not always be the most talented ones but you will find that they are driven, focused and very persistent. They have a strong motive for success and seek the thrill of victory, whereas those motivated by fear of failure seek to avoid the agony of defeat. So what about if an athlete was strongly motivated for success combined with a strong fear of failure? Would this suggest that he would perform better than an athlete who is motivated only by a desire for success? The answer tends to be no.

Research has found that this is because the anxiety associated with the fear of failure can negate the impact of the need for achievement and can weaken performance. Research has also found that in sport, the athlete or team with a high fear of failure is the athlete or team that tend to choke under pressure.

In the motivational climate of sport we will find a motivational climate for success. This success is often influenced by people such as parents, teachers, managers and coaches. This climate is twofold, those athletes in an ego-involving climate and those in a mastery-involving climate. In the ego-involving climate athletes and players are compared with each other and urged to compete to be the best.

Those who perform best usually get special attention. In the mastery-involving climate, effort, enjoyment of the sport and personal improvement are emphasised and rewarded. The assumption here is that if athletes work hard to achieve their potential and give it all their effort and winning will take care of itself. Both the above concepts of success can have very strong effects on sports people especially in young athletes starting out. The key is to focus on your own development, self improvement and performance because you have no control over team mates or competitors performances.

You only have control over developing your own ability and talent. Your talent may determine how good you are but your motivation will determine whether you use that talent or not. We have all seen and heard of great players that lacked the internal motivation to act and express their wonderful talent or those great players who simply feared to express it. Don’t let fear be your primary motivator. Chose desire, feel the fear, and do it anyways.


Source by Denis Coen

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