Optimal physical performance is the result of physiological development achieved through a process of physical training. An individual's genetic phenotype potential represents a relatively stable ceiling for optimal physical performance. However, the expression of physical performance can vary tremendously dependent upon the nature of the situational environment. Thus, the role of sports psychology is to help individuals achieve a more consistent level of physical performance at or near their optimal physical performance capability by management of their physical resources through appropriate psychological strategies and interventions (Hatfield and Brody, 2008). An understanding of sport psychology will assist the strength and conditioning professional in the design and facilitation of appropriate physical training programs in which to enhance both physiological and psychological development in order to achieve the goal of optimal physical performance. One of the most important psychological influences upon physical performance is the phenomena known as motivation (Roberts, Treasure, and Conroy, 2007). Motivational processes can be defined by the psychological constructs of energy, direction and persistence which influence all aspects of activation and intention (Roberts, Treasure, and Conroy, 2007). Motivation produces a variety of outcomes (cognitions, behaviours and affects) and, therefore, understanding motivation is pivotal in initiating and maintaining others to act in various contexts including facilitating optimal performance in strength and conditioning settings (Mallett and Hanrahan, 2004).
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Motivation may be defined as being either intrinsic or extrinsic in nature. Intrinsic motivation refers to performing an activity for itself and the pleasure and satisfaction derived for its participation whereas extrinsic motivation refers to engaging in an activity as a means to an end (Vallerand, 2007). In contrast amotivation refers to a lack of intention in which to act. When amotivated individuals either do not act or act without intent. Thus amotivation can be defined as a relative absence of motivation (Vallerand, 2007). Self-determination theory is a macro-theory of human motivation. Self-determination theory is an 'organismic psychology' and thus assumes that individuals are active organisms with inherent and deeply evolved tendencies towards psychological development (Deci and Ryan, 2008). These tendencies are clearly evident in intrinsically motivated individuals, such as athletes, who tend to have a natural inclination towards new challenges, experiences and opportunities to learn (Ryan, 1995, Ryan and Deci, 2000). Such tendencies through a perception of choice in the initiation and regulation of particular behaviours are considered to represent an internal locus of causality (Deci and Ryan, 1985). In contrast, extrinsically motivated individuals engage in an activity in order to attain an external outcome, thus such behaviours are considered to represent an external locus of causality (Deci and Ryan, 1985). Self-determination theory suggests that the psychological development tendencies of intrinsic motivation are evolved and as such require nutriments and supports from ones social environment (e.g. - coaching behaviours) (Ryan and Deci, 2000). These are conceptualised within self-determination theory as basic psychological needs which are defined as those supports and satisfactions which are essential and necessary for psychological development (Deci and Ryan, 2008). Self-determination theory proposes that there are three basic psychological needs, autonomy, relatedness and competence.
The need for autonomy is defined as the need to perceive ones behaviour as being self-determined, feeling a sense of ownership over such behaviours that they stem from an perceived internal locus of causality (Ryan and Deci, 2000). The need for relatedness is defined as the need to perceive the self as feeling a meaningful connection with others (Ryan and Deci, 2000). Whilst, the need for competence refers to an individual's need to view behaviour as effectively mastering challenging tasks within one's environment (Ryan and Deci, 2000). Self-determination theory argues that when these basic psychological needs are satisfied and supported within a social environment, individuals will experience psychological processes and behaviours which will increase intrinsic motivation and self-determined forms of extrinsic motivation. Conversely, limiting or thwarting of the basic psychological needs may negatively influence psychological processes and behaviours required for intrinsic motivation and self-determined forms of extrinsic motivation. Within self-determination theory five mini-theories (cognitive evaluation theory, organismic integration theory, causality orientations theory, basic psychological needs theory and goal contents theory) have been developed in order to explain various phenomena that have emerged from experimental and/or field research on factors affecting motivation and optimal function. However, the vast majority of research concerning the impact of self-determination theory upon both sport and exercise has focused upon cognitive evaluation theory, organismic integration theory and more recently goal contents theory (Wilson et al. 2008). Cognitive evaluation theory was presented by Deci and Ryan (1985) to describe the impact of psychological needs and social conditions to either facilitate or undermine intrinsic and self-determined forms of extrinsic motivation. Cognitive evaluation theory stresses the importance of autonomy, competence and relatedness and argues that social-contextual factors which are perceived to detract from these may diminish intrinsic and self-determined forms of extrinsic motivation.
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Cognitive evaluation theory addresses how social-contextual factors such as communication, feedback, rewards and pressure can affect feelings of autonomy, competence and relatedness (Deci and Ryan, 1985). Cognitive evaluation theory further specifies that feelings of competence will not enhance intrinsic motivation unless accompanied by a sense of autonomy (Ryan and Deci, 2000). For instance cognitive evaluation theory explains why certain extrinsic factors such as rewards, deadlines, directives and imposed goals can undermine intrinsic motivation. Such factors are perceived to result in an external perceived locus of causality (e.g. - diminished autonomy) in a phenomenon known as the 'undermining effect of rewards' (Deci, Koestner and Ryan, 1999). The training and discipline required by athletes is not always enjoyable. Thus, athletes cannot rely solely upon intrinsic motivation and, at times, must turn to extrinsic forms of motivation in which to pursue their training (Mageau and Vallerand, 2003). Research has demonstrated that intrinsic motivation and self-determined forms of extrinsic motivation are important determinants for any athlete. Athletes who are intrinsically motivated and who are more self-determined in their behaviours are more likely to perform at a higher level (Amiot, Gaudreau and Blanchard, 2004), persist longer and invest more in both training and competition (Pellertier, 2001), and use more positive coping strategies in stressful situations (Amiot, Gaudreau and Blanchard, 2004) than athletes who rely on more non-self determined forms of motivation. Research has suggested that athletes who are less self-determined in their behavioural regulations are more likely to be associated with a range of negative outcomes such as poor focus, burnout such as illness, injury, and dropout (Cresswell and Eklund, 2007, Lonsdale, Hodge, and Rose, 2009). Organismic integration theory is the second mini-theory within the self-determination theory framework and addresses the process of internalisation and integration of various extrinsic motives (Wilson et al. 2008).
Internalisation refers to the inclination of an individual to take on a regulation, while integration refers to the incorporation of that regulation so that behaviours are coherent within one's self (Ryan and Deci, 2000). Organismic integration theory presents a continuum of four classifications of internalisation and subsequent self-determined behaviours (Ryan and Deci, 1985). Organismic integration theory proposes that extrinsically motivated behaviours cover a continuum of integrated behaviours ranging between amotivation and intrinsic motivation. These forms of regulation, which can be simultaneously operative, differ in their relative autonomy (Ryan and Deci, 2000). Deci and Ryan (2000) proposed a multidirectional perspective that extrinsic motivation can be either self-determined or non-self determined. Such that as the extrinsic reasons for performing an activity are internalised and accepted by an individual, extrinsic motivation will become more self-determined. Conversely, non-self determined extrinsic motivation will occur the more an individual feels coerced and/or obligated to perform an activity. The degree of relative autonomy within organismic integration theory may be divided into two broad types of extrinsic motivation; non-self determined extrinsic motivation and self-determined extrinsic motivation. Non-self determined extrinsic motivation comprising of external and introjected regulation, and self-determined external motivation identified and integrated regulation. External regulation represents the least autonomous form of extrinsic motivation and refers to when behaviours are performed to satisfy an external, demand and/or punishment through coercion and obligation. Such behaviours are perceived to have an external locus of causality (Ryan and Deci, 2000). A second form of extrinsic motivation is identified as introjected motivation. Introjection involves the partial internalisation of a regulation without it being integrated within one's self.
Introjected motivation is still a relatively controlled form of regulation in which behaviours are performed to lessen feelings of guilt, anxiety or to enhance ego oriented behaviours such as the maintenance of a positive image. Introjected motivation behaviours whilst internally driven still have a perceived external locus of causality and thus, are still classed as non-self determined form of extrinsic motivation (Ryan and Deci, 2000). Identified regulation represents a more self-determined form of extrinsic motivation and may be thought of as regulation through identification. Identification represents the conscious comprehension and valuing of a behaviour and/or regulation, so that it is accepted within one's self. Thus, identified regulation represents that point at which an individual would start to internalise and assimilate external behavioural regulations and as such is perceived to have a partial internal locus of causality (Ryan and Deci, 2000). Integrated motivation refers to when an individual fully assimilates and internalises external behavioural regulations within one's self. Integrated motivation is considered to have a perceived internal locus of causality and thus, represents a fully self-determined form of extrinsic motivation (Ryan and Deci, 2000). Whilst similar to intrinsic motivation, actions characterised by integrated motivation are still considered extrinsic as they are performed in which to attain a distinguishable outcome rather than for the activity itself and the pleasure and satisfaction derived for its participation (Ryan and Deci, 2000). Organismic integration theory proposes that through a process of internalisation and behaviour regulation in stages and/or over time may result in individuals progressing from non-determined to more self-determined forms of extrinsic motivation. This is not to say that organismic integration theory is a developmental continuum, individuals may internalise a new behavioural regulation at any point depending upon a number of social-contextual factors (Ryan, 1995).
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Such integration has been proposed as adaptive motivation (Pelletier et al. 2001). Adaptive motivation within athletes may be associated with many positive outcomes. That is, athletes may internalise the regulation of difficult training activities so that they are perceived to be of a greater importance and thus may value such training in order to improve performance. Goal contents theory has been proposed to explain the role of goal contents within the self-determination theory framework. Goal contents represent the goals athletes aspire to achieve during competition whereas motives represent the reason why athletes persue such goals (Vansteenkiste, Soenens, and Lens, 2007). Research has suggested that intrinsic goals such as personal growth or contributing to one's social-contextual supports (e.g. - team mates) will enhance basic psychological needs such as autonomy, competence and relatedness. Whereas, extrinsic goals such as materialism, fame or image may not enhance needs satisfaction, and thus do not foster performance enhancement (Vansteenkiste, Soenens, and Lens, 2007). Research has demonstrated social-contextual supports play a pivotal role in the development of intrinsic and self-determined forms of extrinsic motivation in athletes through their impact on perceptions of autonomy, competence and relatedness (Mageau and Vallerand, 2003). Thus, the development of a coaching environment within the strength and conditioning context which supports the development is autonomy, competence and relatedness is crucial in order to enhance the development of intrinsic and self-determined forms of extrinsic motivation. It should be noted however that the ultimate effect of coaching behaviours will depend upon how an athlete interprets these behaviours (Mageau and Vallerand, 2003). Hence the more an athlete perceives a higher level of individual competence, connection to others and autonomy in behaviour the more they will experience a heightened level of intrinsic motivation because their basic psychological needs will be satisfied.
Mageau and Vallerand (2003) proposed that autonomy-supportive coaching behaviours may have a beneficial impact upon the basic psychological needs for autonomy, relatedness and competence, which will in turn promote intrinsic and self-determined forms of extrinsic motivation. Autonomy-supportive coaching behaviours include (a) providing choice for a individual; (b) providing a rationale for tasks and limits; (c) providing non-controlling competence feedback; (d) avoiding controlling behaviours such as criticisms, controlling statements, and tangible rewards for interesting tasks; (e) acknowledging an individual's feelings and perspectives; (f) providing opportunity for an individual to show initiative and act independently; (g) providing non-controlling feedback; and (h) avoiding behaviours that promote ego involvement (Mageau and Vallerand, 2003). Indeed, several authors have demonstrated that autonomy-supportive coaching behaviours may enhance intrinsic and self-determined forms of extrinsic motivation within athletes, whereas, more autocratic or controlling coaching behaviours have been shown repeatedly to diminish intrinsic and self-determined forms of extrinsic motivation. (Gagné, Ryan and Bargmann, 2003, Mallet, 2005, Hollembeak and Amorose, 2005, Valle and Bloom, 2005, Amorose and Anderson-Butcher, 2007, Coatsworth and Conroy, 2009). In addition to autonomy-supportive coaching behaviours Mageau and Vallerand (2003) proposed that coaching behaviours that provide structure and involvement are required in order to facilitate the development of the basic psychological need proposed under self-determination theory. Without instruction, guidance and structure an athlete may lack the necessary experience and knowledge with which to enhance physical performance. Without such support and structure athletes may feel a lack of competence and connection. Mageau and Vallerand (2003) stated "That when all three basic psychology needs are considered simultaneously, it becomes apparent that autonomy-supportive behaviours can only be beneficial when they accompany structure and support".
From a theoretical perspective, self-determination theory provides a multi-dimensional model for explaining motivation, personal development and subsequent athletic success. Self-determination theory postulates that the fulfilment of a set of basic psychological needs, namely those for autonomy, competence and relatedness, is considered essential in order to facilitate intrinsic and self-determined forms of extrinsic motivation. Conversely, limiting or thwarting of the basic psychological needs may negatively influence psychological processes and behaviours required for intrinsic motivation and self-determined forms of extrinsic motivation. Within self-determination theory a number of mini-theories have been developed in which to explain various phenomena that have emerged from experimental and/or field research on factors affecting motivation and optimal function. However, the vast majority of research concerning the impact of self-determination theory upon both sport and exercise has focused upon cognitive evaluation theory, organismic integration theory and more recently goal contents theory. Cognitive evaluation theory describes the impact of psychological needs and social conditions to either facilitate or undermine intrinsic and self-determined forms of extrinsic motivation. Organismic integration theory addresses the process of internalisation and integration of various extrinsic motives whilst goal contents theory has been proposed to explain the role of goal contents within the self-determination theory framework. Research has demonstrated that autonomy-supportive coaching behaviours in conjunction with structure and involvement may enhance intrinsic and self-determined forms of extrinsic motivation within athletes through the fulfilment of the basic psychological needs. By incorporating autonomy-supportive coaching behaviours the strength and conditioning professional may enhance intrinsic and self-determined forms of extrinsic motivation within athletes, subsequently enhancing overall physiological and psychological development.
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