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Achievement motivation as it applies to competitive sport

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Nicole C.
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  1. Introduction
  2. Hong Kong study of high school aged students
  3. The reasons the subjects participated in sports
  4. Level of performance orientation
  5. Studies conducted in Norway
  6. Implications for coaching
  7. Conclusions
  8. References

An important psychological need is the need to achieve: the motive to achieve success by exceeding previous levels of success set by one's self and/or others. Achievement motivation can be characterized as both the need to achieve and as the need to avoid failure. The purpose of this paper is to delve into different empirical studies conducted on the concept of achievement motivation as it applies to competitive sport. The following studies compare relationships between task orientation (need to achieve) and ego orientation (need to avoid failure) to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, how achievement motivation changes over time, and how achievement motivation affects the amount of involvement in sporting activities and the success of athletes in sporting competition.

In a Hong Kong study of high school aged students, researchers sought to study the relationships between motivation orientations and intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. They hypothesized that people who are more task oriented are intrinsically motivated and that people who are more ego oriented are more extrinsically motivated (Sit & Koenraad, 2004). The subjects were high school students (742 boys, 493 girls) who reported participating in competitive and recreational sports. A Participation Motivation Inventory was used to identify the subjects' motives for participating in sports. They were given reasons for participation and they were asked to scale their responses from 1 (not important) to 3 (very important).

[...] The researchers concluded that achievement motivation stemming from sport participation at a young age helps those people's aptitudes for participating in competitive situations overall. Coaches should structure motivation to satisfy different needs and promote achieving success, rather than avoiding failure, to maximize the athletic performance of their young athletes (Thomassen & Halvari 1996). The following year, one of the researchers in the previous study continued his research on achievement motivation. He expanded his research into an investigation of how achievement motivation and motivation to avoid failure relate to one's sporting career level. [...]


[...] It has been shown that people with a task orientation, that is, they are more concerned with mastering their sport than winning, are motivated intrinsically and that people with an ego orientation, work to win, are motivated extrinsically. Task orientation remains constant throughout everyone's life, but ego orientation declines in the males later years. The higher the motive to achieve is in a person, the more that person is involved in sports and the more he/she attains a higher level of success. [...]

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