Types of Goals and Motivations: Task VS Ego
There are two characteristics that an athlete could possess which determine what MOTIVATES them when engaging in sport (and determines their potential.)
- Intrinsic: when participation is pleasurable, when enjoyment of competition, excitement, or the desire to learn and improve drive the effort, the athlete is 'intrinsically motivated'.
- Extrinsic: On the other hand, when sport involvement is steered by trophies, ribbons, points, salaries, scholarships, or the approval of others -- the athlete is 'extrinsically motivated'.
Intrinsic is MORE motivating than extrinsic and produces longer-term and more stable results - although there are benefits to combining both. However, the most fundamental motivational goal should be to locate inner meaning and enjoyment (of the sport).
Of fundamental importance to coaches and athletes is how athletes orient themselves to their GOALS.
- If looking to progressively improve and gain knowledge and skill, surpass earlier efforts, and compare earlier performances to newer ones, athlete is task oriented. In other words, works on the "task."
- If trying to demonstrate superiority over others, if motivated by social comparison, and if they desire 'wins' (points, etc...), the athlete is ego oriented. Performance is ego-driven and driven by how the athlete thinks others perceive them.
- Task-orientation produces a more positive and longer-lasting outcome. Too much of an ego-orientation has drawbacks. However, both are ultimately needed TOGETHER to succeed in enjoying the thrill of both getting better and of producing results at precise moments of pressure.
Here is a short description of a Task-involved athlete and an Ego-involved athlete.
- A Task-involved athlete is concerned with development of their competence and uses levels of effort and task completion to assess their competence in a self-reflective manner. They view their ability as something that is 'improvable', and is content at each level of current skill if they feel they are using their best abilities at that time. They know that they can create positive improvements by exerting best effort.
- An Ego-involved athlete may view success purely in terms of comparisons with others. Their criteria for a high perception of ability is beating the opposition or getting similar results with less effort. In other words, they do not regard personal improvements/development as important as having to demonstrate superior ability over someone else. They view their ability as stable and fixed, and therefore, do not exert high levels of effort because they do not feel that positive improvements are possible. In order to gain a positive perception of themselves, these athletes judge themselves in relation to others and have to demonstrate superior ability.