Interplay of motivation and self-regulation throughout the development of elite athletes
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health. 2019, 12(3), 377-391 10.1080/2159676X.2019.1585388
Recent development in the understanding of human motivation has high-lighted the crucial and reciprocal role of motivation on cognitive processes.In elite sport settings, athletes are subject to external forces that do notnecessarily correspond with their inherent drives. However, they seem todevelop cognitive competencies to cope with external forces, when plan-ning, monitoring, and reflecting on their high-level achievements. Thecurrent study aims to explore likely interactions between motivation andcognitive processes as athletes develop from novice to elite levels. Fivefemale Olympic and World Championship medallists were interviewed.A thematic analysis revealed how motivation and self-regulation compe-tencies interchangeably influenced athletes’career trajectories asynchro-nously. Chronologically, four themes emerged: 1) Motivational shifts evokedplanning and self-control competencies, 2) The external control constrainedathletes’self-regulation, 3) Self-control and reflection in extrinsically drivenathletes, and 4) Elite athletes’multidimensional motivation and self-regulation profile. Initially, intrinsic motivation prompted athletes’participa-tion, but the competitive nature of sport activities led to a shift toward moreexternal forms of motivation. This motivational shift was accompanied bychanges in self-regulation competencies, particularly planning andself-control, rather than self-reflection. Over time, athletes’increased sport-specificself-confidence contributed to further refinement of self-regulationcompetencies and integrated motivational regulations. Rather than explor-ing motivation and cognitive competencies individually, current studyfindings highlight dynamic interactions between these concepts that influ-ences athletes’ongoing development to elite level performances.
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