Motivation is Intrinsic

The topic of motivation is a complex issue. Motivation is stereotypically shown through the coach, the fans, and other people in the athletes' lives. However, I believe that motivation lies through mostly intrinsic factors, while extrinsic factors embellish the athletes' abilities for better or for worse. Although the issue of motivation is not exclusive to athletes, the coach has to find methods to motivate the athletes to address problems inside and outside of practice. This blog will examine how intrinsic motivation acts as a subterfuge over extrinsic factors for athletes and their coach.

Intrinsic factors play a role for athletes, because athletes first participate in sports for their own enjoyment. Vealey confirms this, stating that "[a]though motivation is the direct personal responsibility of the athlete, coaches can indirectly develop and enhance motivation by arranging the competitive environment" (45). Coaches can also help, but the athletes must want to engage in the activity, not the other way around. It is true that the coach must manipulate the environment (extrinsic factors) to create an ideal place for "fun". However, the coach must reflect upon the needs of the athletes with which s/he is working to create a sanctuary of sport. Cassidy, Jones, and Potrac explain the result: "a coach may become more sensitive to the backgrounds, needs and interests of the athletes and may develop practice sessions that are more meaningful for all concerned" (19). By reflecting upon the athletes, him/herself, the coach can create a program that does not surround itself with idea of winning but wants each athlete to gain meaning in participating in the activity. Meaning can be pleasure or disdain, but the coach has the power flush out those characteristics.

A more tangible example of intrinsic motivation comes from a story from "Why good Coaches Quit". Jacques, a coach who made a name from himself from coaching a winning team, eventually coaches for East High hockey for their prestigious program. During his first two years, Jacques got a lot of slack from parents and the booster club. These extrinsic motivators (only thinking about the award of winning) tried to tell Jacques to switch the program back to what it used to be in order to win a championship. Jacques refused and relied on intrinsic motivation from him to stick with his award-winning program. Jacques emphasized a relationship aspect with his players. Jacques cared about winning games, but the developmental process of playing hockey seemed more applicable to the players' lives. The kids are here to have fun; Jacques knew this was not the level to emphasize competition. Parents wanted instant results, and it did not happen. The athletes awarded Jacques and the assistant coach with a medal symbolizing that they stuck together because the coaches were thinking of the best interests of the athletes (the fun aspect).

As people grow, their values change, and doing things for fun may not be their immediate goal. Athletes will get scholarships and be extrinsically motivated by their respective schools. Intrinsic motivation plays a vital role in childhood, but as athletes mature, intrinsic motivation might not be constant.