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A-level PE - Unit 3: Preparation for Optimum Sports Performance: Motivation

Resources to support A-level PE, Unit 3



Motivation is thought to be a combination of the drive within us to achieve our aims and the outside factors which affect it. With this in mind, motivation has the following two forms, intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation

This is motivation from within. A desire to perform well and succeed. The following will be true:

  • Desire to overcome the problem or task
  • Development of skills and habits to overcome that problem
  • Rehearsal of successful habits until they are perfect
  • A feeling of pride and enjoyment in performing the skill
  • Repeated goal setting in order to progress and maintain motivation

Goals must be all of the following in order to be attainable:

  • Smart
  • Measurable
  • Agreed
  • Realistic
  • Time related
  • Exciting
  • Recorded

Extrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation comes from a source outside of the performer. These are things which can encourage the athlete to perform and fall into two groups:

Tangible rewards: Physical rewards such as medals and money. These should be used sparingly with young athletes to avoid a situation where winning a prize is more important than competing well

Intangible rewards: Praise, recognition and achievements. These should be used on a regular basis to encourage the athlete to repeat the behaviour which earned the praise.


Extrinsic Rewards and Motivation

Extrinsic Rewards and Motivation

Stephanie Hatch, Danielle Thomsen, Jennifer J. Waldron
University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA

Athletes compete in and practice sport for a variety of reasons. These reasons fall into the two major categories of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Athletes who are intrinsically motivated participate in sports for internal reasons, such as enjoyment, whereas athletes who are extrinsically motivated participate in sports for external reasons, such as material rewards. 
Extrinsic rewards are central to competitive sports; athletes receive publicity, awards, and money, among other things, and college level athletes obtain scholarships for their talents. Extrinsic rewards, when used correctly, can be beneficial to athletes. However, athletes in highly competitive levels of sport may experience decreases in their intrinsic motivation because of the increasing use of extrinsic rewards offered by the media, coaches, and parents.  As a coach, you can help increase or maintain the intrinsic motivation of college athletes even with the presence of extrinsic rewards, such as scholarships.

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsically motivated athletes participate in sport for internal reasons, particularly pure enjoyment and satisfaction, and intrinsically motivated athletes typically concentrate on skill improvement and growth.

Behaviors Related to Intrinsic Motivation

  • Better task-relevant focus
  • Fewer changes (ups and downs) in motivation
  • Less distraction
  • Less stress when mistakes are made
  • Increased confidence and self-efficacy
  • Greater satisfaction

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation may come from social sources, such as not wanting to disappoint a parent, or material rewards, such as trophies and college scholarships. Extrinsically motivated athletes tend to focus on the competitive or performance outcome. An over-emphasis on extrinsic motivation may lead athletes to feel like their behavior is controlled by the extrinsic rewards.  On the other hand, athletes may continue to feel like they control their own behavior even with the presence of extrinsic rewards.