Motivation and Mindset In Sports

Published by Ferrante Baseball LLC on

Motivation and Mindset In Sports

Possibly the most important factor that has the largest influence over an athlete’s motivation, is their mindset. In the book Mindset, by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., she talks about two types of mindsets, fixed and growth. The fixed mindset is defined by her as, “the belief that your qualities are carved in stone, or fixed at birth and that you only have a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character” (Dweck, 2012). The growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities can be improved through effort and hardwork (Dweck, 2002).

If paired together, the growth mindset and intrinsic motivation can be an incredibly powerful combination for success in any area of life. If an athlete believes that any of his or her skills and qualities can be improved with hard work and effort, and can find enjoyment and satisfaction in the process of learning, growing, and developing, staying motivated will not be an issue. An example of this perfect combination would be the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan. In 1978, Michael Jordan was just another kid in the gym, along with fifty or so of his classmates, trying out for the high school varsity basketball team. There were fifteen roster spots. Jordan did not get one, he got cut. Then he was a 15-year-old sophomore who was only 5’10” and could not yet dunk a basketball. “It was embarrassing not making the team,” Jordan later said. He went home, locked himself in his room and cried. It didn’t take long for Michael to discover his own internal motivation and growth mindset to prove to himself (intrinsic) and everyone else (extrinsic) he could make the team. He ended up doing a whole lot more. Though he was cut from his high school basketball team, he is considered the greatest basketball that has ever graced the court.

Here is a great quote from Jordan’s book, Driven From Within: “To this day, I don’t enjoy working. I enjoy playing, and figuring out how to connect playing with business. To me, that’s my niche. People talk about my work ethic as a player, but they don’t understand. What appeared to be hard work to others was simply playing for me. We were playing a game. Why not play as hard as you can? There’s no pressure in taking that approach. Play to win. Why else would you play? I don’t consider what I do at the Jordan brand working either, because I have a passion for the brand. I could sit around talking about shoe design and fashion all day. You ask me to sit in an office and answer email for eight hours—to me, that is work”. (Jordan, Hatfield, & Vancil, 2007). In his own words, what jordan is describing is without a doubt intrinsic motivation. From my personal experience, training for my sport was not always fun, but when these tough times came I would simply imagine what the training would do for me, what it would allow me to do, the athlete I could become. This kept me pushing forward, my own internal drive.


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