By Tyler Kirk 2015

As instructors, trainers, coaches and mentors one of our primary focuses should be to facilitate and nurture motivation within our students. After all, our key role is to create life-long snowboarders, and certain forms of motivation are essential to this.

 

Motivation exists in many forms, but the two most focused upon in sport psychology literature are intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is motivation generated by internal factors, such as the joy of completion of a task. This is the opposite of extrinsic motivation, which is motivation due to external factors such as monetary rewards, fame or acceptance by others.

 

Intrinsic motivation involves the voluntary participation in sports, regardless of external pressures or rewards. Consequently, intrinsic motivation is what drives long-term sport participation and enjoyment. It is widely regarded that high levels of intrinsic motivation are also directly linked to improved sport performance.

 

Nicholl’s Achievement Goal Theory (AGT) stipulates that motivation can be broken down further into two separate forms of involvement, task and ego involvement. Each provides separate goal focuses and measures of success. Task involvement is where success is measured against the performance of the task itself, for example success for a first time student might be to ride independently on green terrain by the end of the lesson. Ego involvement exists when success is benchmarked against the performance of others, in this case success would be outperforming the other members of the group, or reaching what their peers deem an acceptable level by the end of the lesson.

 

The form and degree of motivation in our students is a reflection of the motivational climate that we facilitate. As we impart our knowledge and values to our students, we affect how they will respond to the mental and physical demands placed upon them. Every single action that we make or don’t make will affect the balance of the motivational climate, for better or worse.

 

Motivational climates are characterized by their emphasis on task or ego orientation. A motivational climate that is high in task orientation is considered a ‘mastery climate’ while a climate high in ego orientation is a ‘performance climate’. Oftentimes this is not black and white, but a balance of the two, and the conditions we adopt will have a profound affect on the student.

 

Adoption of a mastery climate encourages high intrinsic motivation within students, while performance climates promote extrinsic motivation. Consequently, the most productive motivational climate is the mastery climate, and as instructors, coaches, trainers and mentors it should be our priority to create and maintain this climate.

 

To successfully create a mastery climate, we should ensure that all students are treated equally, regardless of their athletic performance or ability, encourage cooperation over rivalry, encourage learning from mistakes and benchmark performance against pre-determined goals, not the performance of others.

 

With these considerations we can ensure that our students will thrive in a healthy environment, and have the best chance of going on to become life-long participants of the sport.