Sports Psychology: Do You Have What It Takes? Part One


Welcome Everyone!

Remember in my last blog post “Are You Enjoying the Ride?”  when I shared the quote from research that found that Intrinsic Motivation was more beneficial than Extrinsic Motivation? Here it is again just in case:

“In the end it seems that the one who meets the most goals is not happier than the one who can enjoy the process.”

I have always be interested in people, what motivates them and their experiences. This is part of the reason why I have a degree in Psychology. I am also always looking to improve myself and learn more, especially in working with horses and barrel racing. So naturally it led me to Sports Psychology. I think there is a lot of useful and insightful information coming from this field that not everyone thinks about or is aware of, so I am sharing it with you.

So back to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Why do you do what you do? In barrel racing, work, or how about your life? Intrinsic means simply to come from within you, basically you do what you do because you truly enjoy doing it. Extrinsic would come from outside yourself, an example of extrinsic motivation would be attention from others.

Does it matter what motivates you? Research and Sports Psychology says yes, it does matter. Consider the following:

The main argument and difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation contends that intrinsic motivation is derived from a self-concept, core beliefs, internal need and development opposed to extrinsic motivators which can undermine these motivations. According to Dr. James Gavin, a professor at Concordia University, motives need to be additive in effect, which means the more reasons you find to motivate yourself to engage in a behavior, the more likely you will continue with and persist in these behaviors. External motivators are typically not additive.

Okay, so why does motivation matter? It matters because it keeps us going through losses and difficulties. It matters because it is an important characteristic of mental toughness, which is a huge part of being a successful athlete. One area of research in Sports Psychology is Personality and it’s importance to performance.


One common area of study within sport psychology is the relationship between personality and performance. This research focuses on specific personality characteristics and how they are related to performance or other psychological variables.

Mental toughness is a psychological edge that helps one perform at a high level consistently. Mentally tough athletes exhibit four characteristics: a strong self-belief (confidence) in their ability to perform well, an internal motivation to be successful, the ability to focus one’s thoughts and feelings without distraction, and composure under pressure.[28]Self-efficacy is a belief that one can successfully perform a specific task.[29] In sport, self-efficacy has been conceptualized as sport-confidence.[30] However, efficacy beliefs are specific to a certain task (e.g., I believe I can successfully make both free throws), whereas confidence is a more general feeling (e.g., I believe I will have a good game today).Arousal refers to one’s physiological and cognitive activation. While many researchers have explored the relationship between arousal and performance, one unifying theory has not yet been developed. However, research does suggest perception of arousal (i.e., as either good or bad) is related to performance.[31]Motivation can be defined broadly as the will to perform a given task. People who play or perform for internal reasons, such as enjoyment and satisfaction, are said to be intrinsically motivated, while people who play for external reasons, such as money or attention from others, are extrinsically motivated.[32]

So as you can see it is important to love what you do! Whatever you are doing, competing, working or just life in general, take a moment to look at what your motivation is. Are you too focused on others? Is it all about the money? Are you happy? Are you reliant on the approval of others? Does your world fall apart when someone else does better than you or gets something you wanted? It doesn’t have to be that way, but you will have to make changes.

If you really enjoy what you are doing, just keep going! Keep nurturing those intrinsic motivations and surround yourself with positive people. Be careful to not be drawn into that extrinsic world by others!

Do What You Like and Like What You Do!


Never Give Up!


2 thoughts on “Sports Psychology: Do You Have What It Takes? Part One

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s