The last two weeks, we’ve touched on a lot of overarching theories relating to motivation in sport, and we’ve tried to explain some of the things that will give you the largest return on investment if you were to analyze and implement them in your daily practice.
This week we’re taking one final look at the importance of motivation and understanding exactly how and why it’s so important to find balance with everything. Enjoy!!
Want to know a secret? The type of athletes that show me that little bit of something more than just seeking success or excellence, are not only the ones I want to work with but are also the ones that are more likely to succeed long term at all the goals they set their minds to.
Well if we look at the idea of perfectionism we have to understand its multidimensional nature but can be reduced to two types: functional and dysfunctional (Sager and Stoeber 2009). Functional is positive in nature and a functional perfectionist sets high standards, persists in working towards goals and strives for perfect performance. Dysfunctional perfectionism is negative in nature. They are concerned with the mistakes they make, often have self doubt about their actions and feel other people have high expectations of them.
How do you tell if you’re a perfectionist? Professor Gordan Frett (2004).
Why is perfectionism good for athletes?
So if we got back to last week and anxiety, functional perfectionism can contribute to a commitment to high performance and a clear understanding of the things to be addressed in order to improve performance. Dysfunctional perfectionism must be addressed by the coach or parent as this can lead to performance and self worth and reduces the irrational sense they place on being successful (Hill, Hall and Appleton, 2010).
Controlling Arousal and Anxiety
Arousal – performance relationships, such as the inverted U hypothesis, show that high levels of arousal can result in a decrease in performance. Therefore the control of arousal and anxiety levels is an important skill for all sports performers to develop.
I’ve had the unique insight into how this happens with some of the best sports psychologists out there and each one adopts a different approach to any athlete as there are many techniques that can be effective for different performers.
Here are the top three techniques you can implement to help achieve that next level of sports performance.
Relaxation skills are beneficial for performers who experience high levels of arousal and anxiety to the extent of it damaging their performance. Progressive muscular relaxation (PMR) was developed by Jacobsen 1938, is an important technique that involves tensing and relaxing specific muscles through the body. Its usually done to a recorded script and is def worth seeking out as a bedtime routine for younger athletes.
Also referred to as visualisation, this technique involves the development of images in your mind that can be used for a range of purposes. Want to really help motivate an athlete? Mentally rehearse the game / activity they are going to do and within time it will become a part of their consciousness when in those situations so they react more to the memory of the situation and less to the stimulus they have in front of them.
Ever had an athlete who gets so nervous about competition they just freeze or can’t perform because of the perceived notion of what will happen? Well systematic desensitisation is a cognitive relaxation technique developed by Wolpe (1958) that involves placing the athlete in increasing anxiety making situations and getting them used to them before moving onto the next. It is often used to help people get over fears or phobias.
And there we have it! Three blogs all about how to motivate yourself and those around you to be the best you /they can possibly be. Enjoyed this mini series of blogs? Let us know other topics you’d like to delve deeper into and how we can help improve your life as an athlete.
Yours in fitness, education and motivation three times!!