We know that exciting competitions often have pivotal moments when the outcomes are decided. These pressure situations are such an innate part of sporting experiences and yet many of our athletes are not taught how to deal with them. The way your athletes deal with pressure or highly stressed moment is the key to using pressure situations positively. Learning how your player or teammate responds to stress in regards to their motivational goals is an invaluable tool for athletes and coaches. So the purpose of this study is to explore which goal orientation, mastery or performance, has the best success rate when stress levels are at its highest.
Achievement Goal Theory
Achievement goal theory analyzes human behavior and experiences in relation to the demonstration of competence. The theory indicates that individuals have innate intent to demonstrate competence and avoid exhibiting incompetence in the achievement context. The conception of ability is the central concept of Achievement goal theory. According to the conception, individual subjectively judge ability. The way how individuals regard ability is the key point of the perceived competence and achievement behavior. This framework provides insight into the emotional reactions, cognitions and behaviors of individuals engaged in social situations in which their skills and abilities are involved. Based on the differentiation of ability and effort, the concepts of goal involvement emerge.
The way how achievement was defined and how subjective success was judged is meaningful to behaviors. Nicholls (1984, 1989) proposed that people judge competence based on two perspectives. Nicholls identified these two achievement goal perspectives as task involvement and ego involvement.
Task-orientation operates when the individual's actions are primarily motivated by personal improvement or achievement of higher perceived ability. An athlete that is task-oriented is usually associated with a desired or adaptive achievement behavior. The primary goal of these athletes would be to demonstrate mastery of the task in hand. That individual’s perceptions of ability would be typically self-referenced and their focus would be on improving and putting forth maximum effort to the task with little or no concern for the outcome. Success and failure are personally defined by the athlete’s self-awareness of his or her performance.
Ego orientation is characterized by actions that are primarily motivated to demonstrate normative competence. These subjects believed that success was the possession of superior ability. Success and failure are most generally judged by comparison with the performance of others. Ego oriented athletes embrace the concept of ability and are interested in demonstrating their superiority of an ability to others, concluding that winning and beating others is their major focus. A study done by researchers have also reported that high ego orientated youths are likely to be motivated by social standing and they also reasoned that high ego-oriented youths employed an other-referenced perception of ability. (Sit and Lidner 2004)
What is Stress?
The pressure to perform at high levels in competitive sports has increased in recent years with all the media attention given to sport and the potential earnings available through success, and people who don’t cope effectively with the pressure of competitive sport may experience not only a decrease in their ability to perform but cause mental anxiety and stress. Martens, Vealey, and Burton defined stress as a stimulus, intervening, and response to variables by different researchers. As a stimulus variable stress is a precipitator; as an intervening variable, a mediator; and as a response variable, a behavior.” There are many factors which can cause stress for an athlete.
Stress can affect performance, the way an athlete