While reading this research survey, completed June 1, 2017, the reader is instructed to assume that all the Athletes herein described have the genetic profiles and the human growth and development for Superior Athletic Ability. All needed is the description for the ‘Fixed Superior Mindfulness’ which the Supreme Athlete possesses, for the objective of this survey and this report.
The research that follows supports the following description of the ‘Fixed Superior Mindfulness’ of the Supreme Athlete.
The ‘Fixed Superior Mindfulness’ of the Supreme Athlete is characterized by many positive personality traits, which the Athlete Mindfully organizes from the top of their Mind down, directing total Mindful energy on the athletic tasks at hand.
“To be able to focalize and gather all the power of Mind from the top of the Cerebrum down to the limbic lobes of brain underneath the Cerebrum and then focalize and gather all the power of the body upon the one thing, desired to accomplish, during ‘the now’ is one of the greatest secrets of Athletic success.” For Athletes, Poise “is indispensable. No one can succeed without concentration.” “Perfect concentration is required for success.” 23.
This report is specifically about the select, Supreme Athlete. Most Personality and Behavior Traits are encoded in the DNA in the nucleus at the cellular level.
What is the difference in Mindfulness and Mindset?
Mindfulness is not just thinking, but a Network for a WAY OF THINKING which focuses awareness wholly on the present. “When you are mindful you accept your current feelings, sensations, emotions as you become aware of them.”
Mindset is a SET OF BELIEFS we have about ourselves and our potential i.e our potential is limited, intelligent or not, can do something or we can’t. Other identified networks are Default mode, Dorsal attention, Salience, Lateral visual auditory, motor, right executive, posterior default mode, left fronto-parietal, cerebellar, ventral attention, spatial attention, language, left executive, sensorimotor, memory and others. 75.
“The Default Mode Network (DMN) is a brain network that is so intimately related to anxiety, depression, and obsessionality why on earth would evolution have selected for it?
Because, “a well-balanced DMN helps us plan tasks, review past actions to improve future behavior, and remember pertinent life details, but some of these functions could go too far and cause mental anguish.”
Descendants of the original Homo sapien-sapiens sub-species would not be challenged enough to survive, had it not been for adversity along the natural selection pathway. For example the cliché, “What don’t kill you, will make you stronger” would not be initiated.
“DMN and the brain have both a protagonist and an antagonist. The protagonist of is a series of brain structures called the Task-Positive Network (TPN).
“The TPN is active during the attention-demanding tasks, responsible for directing our conscious attention towards the external environment through our 5 senses, towards our internal bodily states, and to the willful execution of physical and mental action, attentional focus that brings these experiences into conscious awareness.
“DMN and TPN are mutually exclusive. The activation of the DMN inhibits the TPN and vice versa.
“No study has demonstrated the simultaneous activation of the two networks, DMN and TPN (4). The relationship between the DMN and the TPN is analogous to the relationship between inhalation and exhalation: despite their intimate nature, the two cannot exist simultaneously.
“The DMN can simplistically be thought of as being made up of “medial” (towards the middle) parts of the brain. Reference described the parts in detail.
“The TPN is made up of the lateral prefrontal cortex (lPFC), the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), the insula, and the somatosensory cortex (S1).The lPFC is located in the lateral aspect of the frontal lobe. The lPFC is responsible for attentional-direction, decision-making, working memory (task-specific short-term memory), and cognitive control (regulating our thoughts). For the aforementioned reasons we will refer to the lPFC as the “Director.” The lPFC dictates where we direct our attention and what we do with it.
“The ACC is an exception to the lateral (away from middle) rule and sits behind and underneath the frontal lobe. The ACC enables us to direct our attentional focus towards emotional and cognitive content. We will refer to the ACC as the “Attender” because of its role in attending to mental and emotional content.
“The insula is buried within the lateral sulcus, which separates the frontal and parietal lobes from the temporal lobe. The insula allows us to detect our own internal states such as the beat of our heart, the sensation of our intestines, or the feeling of a full bladder. We will refer to the insula by the very unimaginative title of the “Internal Sensor.”
“And finally, S1 (1st or primary somatosensory cortex) is located in the postcentral gyrus of the parietal lobe. S1 is responsible for our bodily sensation of touch. S1 allows us to feel the sensation of grass beneath our feet, a cool breeze on our face, or the sun on our back. We will refer to S1 as the “External Sensor.”
“As before, let’s use an example to unify these four structures: lPFC/Director, ACC/Attender, insula/Internal Sensor, and S1/External Sensor.
“The TPN is engaged when we attend to the here and now. It is the action network. The TPN is our direct line to Mindfulness and the Present Moment in which worry and sadness cannot survive.
“The TPN and DMN are mutually exclusive. 220.127.116.11.72.73.74.
To determine if cognition (thinking) is universal or socio-cultural, investigators made a clear distinction between the different levels of thinking. 3 descriptive planes (3 levels) of Mind’s cognitive phenomenon (thinking) were described:
1. Biological Process: genes activate, neurons, proteins, enzymes, interact, etc.
2. Psychological Computation: Mind’s core programs/operations. (x leads to y)
3. Surface Behavior: the relations between stimuli and responses. (x results in y)
“In this way, it becomes clearer that although both nature and nurture can have an effect to some degree on the 3 planes. The first 2 are essentially universal while the 3rd one is undoubtedly socio-cultural.
People and Athletes have different ways of thinking but do they actually think in different ways? The answer is that “people and Athletes from different cultures may have different ways of thinking, but they don’t actually do the thinking in different ways i.e. use either one independently or a hybrid of the aforementioned 3 thinking planes. [Different Ways Of Thinking And Thinking In Different Ways Apr 22nd, 2005 by Paula Bourges-Waldegg]
The hypothesis is that ‘Fixed Superior Mindfulness’ (thinking/cognition) of the Supreme Athlete utilizes primarily Biological Processes while being influenced less by secondary Psychological Computation and Surface Behaviors and the ‘Growth Mindset’ Athlete utilizes Psychological and Behavioral layers primarily with the Biological Processes considerably less.
Humans belong to the animal kingdom. Both comparative psychologists and biologists, researchers who study personality in biology and psychology, embrace Personality Traits explanations for Personality. Their research has provided answers to questions about the evolution of human personality and have presented conceptual and empirical anomalies for socio-cognitive theories.
Personality Trait explanations for Personality Behaviors reveal that hereditary traits not only belong to the human species, but when Personality Traits are expressed, with some modifications, traits are expressed across the entire species, just like the physical appearances of humans and animals, absent thinking, express their appearance across the entire species. Animals don’t have cognitive Minds. Humans don’t all of a sudden look like lions, they continue to look human. 60.
Children seem to have distinct temperaments almost from birth. Some are cheerful and easy to care for, while others are not so much. In research, temperaments included general activity level, fussy, demanding, adaptability, persistence, adventurousness, shyness, inhibitedness, irritability, and distractibility. Most psychologists agree that such temperamental differences are biologically based and have genetic origins (Bates & Pettit, 2007; Caspi & Silva, 1995; Kagan & Snidman, 2007; M. Pfeifer, Goldsmith, Davidson, & Rickman, 2002; A. Thomas & Chess, 1977).61.
There have been decades of twin research showing similarity in personality between identical twins. 62.
Most anthropologists today believe some researchers have gone too far in their assertions about the influence of environment, society and culture on personality formation, while discounting heredity. There are many potential factors that are involved in shaping a personality primarily from heredity. Research has increasingly pointed to hereditary factors being more important, especially for basic personality traits, such as emotional tone. However, some Personality Traits are especially impacted during childhood. After childhood, the impact on Personality Development of education is increasingly challenging. 63. Many scientists believe most of the Personality is established at birth and then modified and further expressed during childhood, less in adolescents.
The ‘Growth Mindset’ is a separate entity from ‘Fixed Superior Mindfulness’ of the Supreme Athlete. Further education for all ‘Growth Mindset’ Athletes concerning their Personality Behaviors, emotions, actions and execution of assignments is extremely important and encouraged by this reporter, who has published reports regarding the importance of education of Athletes across the board.
This report is not about the majority of Great, Enormously Physically Talented, Elite Athletes, whose Athletic achievements might be improved with further development of the Growth Mindset, which is grown “when coaching staffs present athletic skills as acquirable, teach the importance of passion, effort, improvement and teamwork, and the coaching staffs present themselves as mentors and not just talent judges of enormously talented Athletes.” This reporter believes mentoring and education are important at all levels of SRE. 64.
At birth, the human brain does not come with a blank code for the soon to become Athlete’s Mindfulness or Personality to be totally molded and the blanks filled-in by environmental and social factors, at the behest of the parents and the coach. Of course, not. The human brain is born with specific genetic codes for the ‘Fixed Superior Mindfulness’ or Personality and every other possible Mindset.
Preexisting psychological personality characteristics, aka attributes: thinking / thoughts, emotions / feelings, and actions / behaviors and environmental and social factors work in concert to promote personality continuity, the Mindset.
Environmental and social factors often reinforce those personality traits, which were responsible for the initial environmental and social conditions of the individual in the first place. (Roberts et al., 2003). The kinds of jobs or sport often require drive, dedication, striving for achievement, and accentuation of ambition and confidence.
Positive gene expressions, responses and reactions to environmental and social factors can generate self-fulfilling cycles and reinforce continuance and continuity. 66.
The importance of the biological foundation of personality development has been identified by researchers (Hans Eysenck, Gordon Allport and Raymond Cattell and others). Their findings support the associations of psychological brain neuroanatomy networks with brain neural pathways and brain neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, with the development of personality characteristics aka personality attributes aka thinking / thoughts, emotions / feelings, and actions / behaviors aka Mindset.
Heredity brain encoded DNA patterns at the neuron cell level interact with environmental and social factors to determine an individual’s personality. Gene Expression is ‘turned on’ internally and autonomously by the Mind’s internal network.
The Mindset, Personality characteristics, is determined “not by a single gene, but by a combination of many gene networks”, and expressed within environments and social conditions amenable to their expression.
“Many personality studies today investigate the activation and expression of genes and how they relate to personality. How DNA interacts with the environmental and social factors determines what part of the DNA code is actually activated within an individual, in other words, which genes will be expressed.”
The ‘nature vs. nurture’ debate about whether genetics or environmental and social factors are more influential in human development) is ongoing for some.
However, scientists and medical doctors rely upon the “strength of the biological perspective’s strict adherence to scientific methodology.” 67.
Doctors and therapists, who have struggled to change the behaviors of humans and Athletes, have encountered difficulties. It is difficult to change bad habits influenced by their environments and societies.
‘Fixed Mindfulness’’, fixed personality and ‘growth mindset’, growth personality have been described. Those with a ‘fixed Mindfulness’’ assume that they are the way they are and that’s all there is to it. “There’s no changing me.” ‘Fixed Superior Mindfulness” of the Supreme Athlete is good and the foundation of SRE icons.
Analysts insist their are Athletes with a ‘growth mindset’ and believe that they can assist their change, that their Mindset is malleable and that they can change and grow.” 64.
“It is possible that individuals might change their personality attributes by actively striving to change their behaviors and emotional reactions with help from outsiders. This idea lies at the heart of psychotherapy” but it is very difficult. 66.
The ‘fixed Superior Mindfulness’’ is at the heart of the Supreme Athlete.
The ‘fixed Superior Mindfulness’ of the Supreme Athlete exhibits many Personality Traits and Behaviors.
This survey found that the Supreme Athlete is Accessible, Kind and Courteous to the athletic staff, media and fans, very Self-Confident and Articulate. He/she appear Perceptive, Knowledgeable and Wise about their Athletic Expertise and obligations.
Practice leading up to the sporting event is always a serious endeavor for them. The Supreme Athlete is a student of the game and assumes a Goal-Oriented preparation approach. They are extremely Energetic, Enthusiastic, Innovative, Hard-Working, Dedicated and Conscientious. The Supreme Athlete is always a leader on and off the field. He/she is Organized, a Perfectionist and always maintains excellent Conditioning, Health, Strength and Readiness. The Supreme Athlete is Uncomplaining and Stoic; never a ‘goldbricker’.
Come game time, the Supreme Athlete remains Focused on Execution of his/her assignments and Winning and always Concentrative and Courageous. He/she displays Impressive, Exciting, Extraordinary, Heroic play and is Imaginative and Skillful, Intrinsically and Autonomously Motivated, Self-Determined and Passionate for the game. The Supreme Athlete plays Intelligently, Intuitively, Perceptively and strives for Perfection. He/she often appears Invulnerable.
He/she is Appreciative, Modest and Humble in Victory and Gracious and Self-Critical in defeat.
Off the field the Supreme Athlete has a good Personality, Ethical Character and is Genuinely Optimistic, Honest, Honorable, Responsible Self-reliant, Trustworthy, Principled, Reliable, Considerate and always on their best Behavior and very Contemplative and Consciously aware of their surroundings and how to improve themselves.
Greene said it, a “Jack of all trades and master of none’ is a person, who can perform many different tasks slightly or moderately, but unable to become a master of any task.
‘Jack of all trades’ was first famously used by Robert Greene in 1592 when he “dismissively refers to actor-turned-playwright William Shakespeare” with this term, the first published mention of the writer, Shakespeare. 1.
“Endurance and power performance capacities show much inter-individual variation, even among well-trained athletes. In the past few years the research was focused on the analysis of the relationship between physiology, biochemistry and genetics in the field of physical exercise, investigating on the inheritance of some traits of performance, on the genetic and molecular basis of training adaptation and on the different indicators of performance.
“Recently, several studies have shown evidence of the important role of gene polymorphisms (multiple factors) in athletic performance.
“The number of genes potentially correlated with sport performance is increasing steadily: today (2008) it includes 165 autosomal genes and 5 on the X chromosome and 17 mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genes in which sequence variants influence both fitness and performance phenotypes. 2.
More recently (2013) “A favorable genetic profile for an athletic physique, when combined with an optimal training environment, was found to be important for elite athletic performance; however, research discovered that few genes are consistently associated with elite athletic performance, and none are linked strongly enough to warrant their use in predicting athletic success.” 3.
So we ask ourselves “how do Supreme Athletes do what they do? Remember that athletic Grace is rooted as much the Athlete’s Mind as their body. Somewhere their Grace and Mind (Poise) meet and years of practice and hard work refined their brain and sculpted their body for the production of a Supreme Athlete in their sport for the ‘now’ and perhaps beyond. 4.
The brilliant American author Mark Twain, having read in a newspaper that he was deceased, issued a statement that, “The report of my death was an exaggeration”. So it is with SRE Supreme Athletes’ iconical accomplishments and reputations, which live forever. They never die.
The ‘Fixed Superior Mindfulness’ of Supreme Athletes are far above the rest. Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.) is the prime example.
“Here I am, just 19, surrounded by showgirls, whisky and sissies, and nobody watching me. All this temptation and me trying to train to be a boxer. It’s something to think about.”But it takes a MIND to do right. It’s like I told myself when I was little. I said, ‘Cassius, you going to win the Olympics someday, and then you’re going to buy yourself a Cadillac, and then you’re going to be the world champ.’ Now I got the gold medal, and I got the car. I’d be plain silly to give in to temptation now when I’m just about to reach out and get that world title.” 65.
Death of the iconical Athletes’ accomplishments and reputations would indeed be an exaggeration; for example Supreme Athletes: Jim Thorpe, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Martina Navratilova, Bobby Orr, Nadia Comaneci, Michael Phelps, Labron James and many others. They and many others will live forever because of their Superior Mindset, which set their Supreme Athletic Tone, drove their motors, passion, perfectionism, absolute concentration and Supremacy.
Years ago an Athlete, who pitched briefly for the Reds, was described as a ‘million dollar arm and a 10¢ Brain’ which is self-explanatory, but in case not, he had all the physical ability but lacked the mental ability to succeed.
Therefore, in this survey concerning the keys to Athlete Success, the reader is instructed to assume that all the Athletes herein described have the genetic profile for superior athletic ability; have million dollar physical ability. All needed is the Mindfulness and how it is characterized.
To be or not to be a ‘Fixed Superior Mindfulness’ of a Supreme Athlete, that is the question.
Because a multiplicity of physical and psychological factors contribute to the profile of The Supreme Athlete, both Athletic Ability and Athletic Mindset are regarded superior not supreme. No Athlete was found in this research to have both Supreme Athletic Ability and Supreme Athletic Mindset. There has never been a Superman or Superwoman in Sport, Recreation and/or Exercise (SRE). While Supreme Athletes are few during an era of sport, there have always been more than one during a given time frame.
The equation is:
Supreme Athlete = Superior Athletic Ability Genetic Profile + ‘Fixed Superior Mindfulness’
How is the ‘Fixed Superior Mindfulness’ of the Supreme Athlete ingrained, branded and encoded with the autonomous, internalized Mindfulness for Supreme performance of SRE activities?
The Supreme Athlete’s ‘Fixed Superior Mindfulness’ is characterized as a ‘way of thinking’ with a determined approach, an intensely focused attitude, with confidence in ability and a firm belief in success.
The following is a survey from the research of experts with their and this author’s conclusions, concerning the ‘frame of Mind’, ‘Fixed Superior Mindfulness’ of the Supreme Athlete.
What is the human Mind? “The Mind can use the brain to perceive itself, and the mind can be used to change the brain itself.” The Mind of humans is the only thinking brain in the Animal Kingdom, for which we have knowledge.
Please review the anatomy of the Cerebral Cortex → FRONTAL (blue), TEMPORAL (green), OCCIPiTAL (red), and PARIETAL (yellow) Lobes [Dr. Dan Seigel]
The Mind is located in the Brain Cerebrum. 5.
“The Mind is a miracle.” But the Mind is different from the brain. The Brain is the anatomy and the Mind is the physiology characterized by the Mindsight and Mindset when thinking, having thoughts, perceptions, beliefs, attitudes, patterns, emotions, willpower, past memory, learning memory and imagination, expression of language and communications. 56.
The Mindsight and Mindset are also states of being aware, perceiving physical facts, mental concepts and states of general wakefulness and responsiveness via the functioning sensorium, which is the full state of the senses, sensory perception. 6.7.8.
Mind uses voluntary willpower to initiate movements, volitional changes in balance, equilibrium, posture, and all physical and mental actions generated in the cerebrum of the brain.
Stimuli from the brain’s internal memory, brain’s willpower and belief systems, body’s internal environment and body’s external environment initiate sensory input which courses along the brain’s neuronal cell networks to the brain cerebrum, factored by time, activates cerebrum mindset responses, generally known as human behaviors.
Cerebrum is the largest and most superior part brain. Refer again to the above diagram: the Cerebral Cortex is comprised of the R + L hemispheres of each of the FRONTAL (blue), TEMPORAL (green), OCCIPTAL (red), and PARIETAL (yellow) Lobes and subcortical structures, hippocampus, basal ganglia, olfactory bulb anc account for all voluntary human actions.
Cognitive abilities are brain functions. Cognition is when a person processes in the Mind, then understands, has the ability abilities to implement every human action in the world.
Brain-based skills for any task, from the simplest to most complex have to do with the mechanisms of how we learn, remember, problemsolve and pay attention rather than any actual knowledge about the task.
Brain-based skills have to do with perception, attention, decision making, memory, motor, language and social skills, visual and spatial processing and executive-like functioning.
Mental functions are cognitive abilities. Each have specific neuronal and memory networks located in the temporal lobes and parts of the frontal lobes.
The Mind has reflexes, programs and takes actions. “The Mind is hard-wired with brain reflexes and programmed behaviors and acts with volitional actions like thinking, deliberating and selecting behaviors.” 9.
Mind functions are consciously generated as distinct entities which distinguishes the Mind from the anatomy of the brain itself. Brain circuitry is the foundation for homeostasis and behaviors and separates the actions or physiology of the MIND from anatomy of the Brain.
The MIND is the “consciousness producing energy-state” of cerebral cortex which follows synchronous sensory inputs, transfers the inputs to pyramidal neurons of sensory cortex which generates sensory stimuli energy for self-awareness and memories of self-awareness and sequential sensory signals travel to cerebral pyramidal cells for cognition and decision-making.
Multisensory Integration (MSI) is complex. MSI is the integration by the human nervous system of different stimuli from many sensory forms i.e. eyesight, sound, superficial and deep touch, proprioception, smell, taste, body-motion, body position and equilibrium, which also interact each other and each other’s alterations during their sensory processing. 10.11.
The brain must also categorize stimuli by integrating, segregating, differentiating the sensory stimuli likeness and differences.
PERCEPTION / Reception is divided into 5 Stages:
5.Recall (Devito 2009)
Multiple Brian Cerebrum Lobes Receive Multisensory Integration and adaptation from neural stem cells for Mindfulness from Sensory external and internal environment input stimuli and internal Memory.
Sensory Input Phase 1 irectly, indirect From Central, Peripheral Sensory Forms → Analysis of Input → Neuronal Input Bifurcates →
1. Multisensory comparison and Integration of Input → if it matches it is a Perceived Sensory Input Match. If there is no match it is sen to Junk, a mismatch of sensory analysis
2. Input is shared with Memory → sent to Multisensory comparison fo Integration Input and if matched it is Perceived Sensory Input Match. If not matched
→ Junk as Mismaatch of Sensor Analysis and recirculated to Sensory Input Phase 1.
The Junk might show up in a dream when it is reprocessed and not matched, or is discarded and defragmented like your desk top computer defragments.
From Central, Peripheral Sensory Forms 12.
In contrast, the definition of Personality evolved with Sigmund Freud’s Theory of Psychosexual Personality Development and Erickson, Piaget, Kohlberg’s Stages of Personality Development and many other theories.
Oxford Dictionary defines Personality simply as “The combination of traits, characteristics or qualities which form an individual’s distinctive character.” Personality involves cognitive and behavioral patterns, thinking, character, temperament and actions, which are innate, lasting and influenced by inherited traits, childhood and lifetime experience which continue to develop and grow throughout life. 59.
Positive Personality Traits are listed below and are divided by Gunkel into Positive Traits (234 = 37%), Neutral Traits (292 = 18%) and Negative Traits (292 = 46%). Many of the following positive traits contribute to multidimensional ‘Superior Mindfulness’. 58.
Accessible Active Adaptable Admirable Adventurous Agreeable Alert Allocentric Amiable Anticipative Appreciative Articulate Aspiring Athletic Attractive Balanced Benevolent Brilliant Calm Capable Captivating Caring Challenging Charismatic Charming Cheerful Clean Clear-headed Clever Colorful Companionly Concentrative Compassionate Conciliatory Confident Conscientious Considerate Constant Contemplative Cooperative Courageous Courteous Creative Cultured Curious Daring Debonair Decent Decisive Dedicated Deep Determination Dignified Directed Disciplined Discreet Dramatic Dutiful Dynamic Earnest Ebullient Educated Efficient Elegant Eloquent Empathetic Energetic Enthusiastic Esthetic Exciting Extraordinary Fair Faithful Farsighted Felicific Firm Flexible Focused Forceful Forgiving Forthright Freethinking Friendly Fun-loving Gallant Generous Gentle Goal-Oriented Genuine Good-natured Gracious Hardworking Healthy Hearty Helpful Heroic High-minded Honest Honorable Humble Humorous Idealistic Imaginative Impressive Incisive Incorruptible Independent Individualistic Innovative Inoffensive Insightful Lucent Intelligent Intuitive Invulnerable Kind Knowledge Leaderly Leisurely Liberal Logical Lovable Loyal Lyrical Magnanimous Many-sided Masculine Mindful (Manly) Motivated Maticulous Moderate Modest Multi-leveled Neat Non-authoritarian Objective Observant Optimistic Orderly Organized Original Painstaking Passionate Patient Patriotic Peaceful Perceptive Perfectionist Persistent Personable Persuasive Planful Playful Polished Popular Practical Precise Principled Profound Protean Protective Punctual Realistic Reflective Relaxed Reliable Resourceful Responsible Responsive Reverential Romantic Rustic Sage Sane Scholarly Scrupulous Secure Self-critical Self-defacing Self-denying Selfless Self-reliant Self-sufficent Sensitive Sentimental Seraphic Serious Sexy Sharing Shrewd Simple Skillful Sober Sociable Solid Sophisticated Spontaneous Sporting Stable Steadfast Steady Stoic Strong Studious Suave Subtle Sweet Sympathetic Systematic Tasteful Teacherly Thorough Tidy Tolerant Tractable Trusting Uncomplaining Understanding Undogmatic Unfoolable Upright Urbane Venturesome Vivacious Warm Well-bred Well-read Well-rounded Winning Wise Witty Youthful
Athlete Passion for Sport, Recreation and Exercise (SRE) Participation and Athlete Perfectionism in SRE are manifestations of Total Mindfulness, Undivided Conscious Attention and Perfect Concentration.
The instinctive ability of the Supreme Athlete to wrap the power of his/her Mind around and focus on one task during ‘the now’ is one of the greatest secrets of athletic success. Perfect concentration of the ‘Superior Mindfulness’ is indispensable.
Imagine, the ability required to gather the energy in the Mind from the top-down process from all the above mentioned Positive Personality Traits, applicable to the task at hand (not all apply to every task), into one endeavor i.e. to hit the next pitch, jump the next hurdle, make the nest basket or kick the next field goal.
“Many years ago it dawned on Dr. Stankovich how important it is in life to have a passion and purpose, to be dedicated to the nth degree, and to have specific targets to shoot for in the big picture of life. He said he learned that without true passion (aka intrinsic motivation), it is extremely difficult to truly reach your full potential in life.
“Stankovich said he discovered through his travels that it is vitally important to clearly state goals and dedicate your life 100% toward your goals if you want to truly achieve great things.”
He continued, “Athletes with passion and purpose literally love being engaged in all aspects of their training.
“When athletes have passion and purpose, they quickly move through tough times and stay hungry for the next day.
“Their resiliency is seemingly hard-wired into their DNA, and they understand and accept that they will take their lumps along their way to greatness.
“Stress and failure are actually accounted for in the passionate athletes mind, and therefore quickly (and successfully) dealt with efficiently.
“The only thing you deserve is what you earn.” The author was not sure who first coined that phrase, but it is very telling and makes perfect sense.
“Passionate athletes know this, and don’t make excuses for their failures and shortcomings. Instead, they use each lesson as a building block to do it even better tomorrow. 13.
Perfectionism in sport and dance and contemporary models of perfectionism have been established. Dancers are often athletes. 57.
Mental Toughness requires passion, perfectionism and total concentration. Turning to the research that supports these declarations, many interesting results contribute to these assessments.
“When researchers explored perfectionistic athletes’ perspectives 3 themes emerged: personal expectations, coping with challenge, and role of others.
“Although these themes were common to both healthy and unhealthy perfectionists, the content generally represented a dichotomy of positive and negative interpretations, respectively. 14.
“Athletes with different perfectionist profiles (i.e., healthy and unhealthy perfectionism) measures of perfectionism and coping in sport, directly corresponded to a tripartite conceptualization of perfectionism that differentiates between healthy, unhealthy, and non-perfectionists.
“Manova research revealed that healthy perfectionists reported the use of increased effort and active coping more frequently than unhealthy perfectionists, whereas unhealthy perfectionists reported the use of behavioral disengagement more frequently than healthy perfectionists. Results support the important role that perfectionism may play in the coping process and reinforce the need to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy profiles of perfectionism in sport.15.
Crocker et al found that “The 2 × 2 model of perfectionism was examined to predict competition related stress variables in intercollegiate athletes and measures of sport perfectionism relationship between perfectionism, coping, and control appraisals.
“Overall, the results indicated that pure personal standards perfectionism was associated with better outcomes than pure evaluative concerns perfectionism. Personal standards concerns how one gages themselves. Evaluative concerns are how observers evaluate an athlete’s accomplishment, performance, and suitability.
“For most variables, evaluative concerns perfectionism was related to the poorest outcomes. How observers measured an athlete’s performance was less likely to improve an athlete’s performance.
“The results indicate that the 2 × 2 model is a viable framework to evaluate the joint influences of perfectionism dimensions on the stress process. 16.
An athlete is defined as one who participates in SRE. Dancers are regarded as athletes by many. Dance is recreation and exercise and many dancers have coaches. Dancers are amateur and professional and practice relentlessly. In some instances, dancers are sports participants.
“Another research postulated that different combinations in the 2 × 2 model of evaluative concerns and personal standards perfectionism contribute to 4 distinct perfectionism subtypes (or profiles) in dance (Cumming & Duda, 2012).
“This research examined the hypothesis proposed by Gaudreau and Thompson (2010) that mixed perfectionism is more adaptive than pure evaluative concerns perfectionism because of the personal standards perfectionism dimensions that contribute to the mixed perfectionism profile, intrinsic motivation and fear of failure and indicators of self-evaluations (self-esteem and body dissatisfaction) between these and the other subtypes.) and perfectionism dimensions of personal standards, concern over mistakes and doubts about actions.
“As all other athletes, dancers also responded to items assessing intrinsic motivation, fear of failure, self-esteem and body dissatisfaction. Differences between the 4 clusters established in Cumming and Duda (2012) in the criterion variables were revealed. Overall, findings provided partial support for each of the 4 hypotheses of the 2 × 2 model. 17.
Research suggests that self-oriented perfectionism and socially prescribed perfectionism have unique and distinct motivational properties that are evident among junior athletes.
Likewise, harmonious passions and obsessive passions encompass distinctive patterns of motivation.
Stoeber research revealed the possibility that “self-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism could be distinguished based on their relationship with harmonious and obsessive passion in junior athletes was examined.
“Youth sports completed measures of perfectionism and passion. Analyses indicated that self-oriented perfectionism predicted higher levels of both types of passion. In contrast, socially prescribed perfectionism predicted only obsessive passion.
“The findings provide an initial indication that the motivational differences between self-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism extend to the types of passion they engender.
“The findings also provide additional insight into the patterns of motivation that are likely to arise from the two dimensions of perfectionism in junior athletes. 18.
However, perfectionism in sport and dance is a “double-edged sword” and can result in bad and good outcomes. Additional research is needed to further advance our knowledge. 19
“The role of perfectionism as a maladaptive factor in sports, dance and exercise behavior can be perils of perfectionism in sports and exercise. New findings illustrate the vulnerabilities of perfectionists and the various costs and consequences that can result from the inflexible and rigid pursuit of perfection and associated ways of evaluating the self and other people.
“While there is ample evidence of the potential destructiveness of perfectionism among athletes and dancers, we suggest that the current literature paints a more positive view of perfectionism than is warranted according to a person-centered view of the athlete or dancer who is highly perfectionistic.
“Better understanding of the costs and consequences of extreme perfectionism, including the mental well-being and physical health of perfectionistic athletes and their ability to cope with injuries is necessary.
“This research analysis emphasizes the self and identity issues that differentiate perfectionistic over-striving from a healthier form of striving for excellence. 20.21.
“Isn’t it sweet when you lose yourself in the work you’re doing? You get the rush of real productivity, not just ‘busy work’. You have a strong feeling of purpose and completely lose track of time. Whether you call it concentration, focus, flow, or even work-induced trance, you have to admit it’s really an exhilarating feeling.”
“David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of Your Brain at Work, has discovered that we are truly focused on our work for a mere 6 hours per week. What’s more, Rock’s studies reveal that 90% of people do their best thinking outside of the office and most people focus best either in the morning or late at night.”
How do we concentrate on SRE or any other task for that matter? “Focusing on a task is a lot like focusing your vision. It is essentially a top-down process. When you make the decision to focus on something, your brain first takes in all the visual sensory input information and starts to process that information to tell you what you should focus on.
“It’s like looking at a painting or a photograph for the first time. When the image becomes clearer, then your brain will move in on one aspect that you want to pay attention to.
“When you achieve that blissful kind of concentration where time slips by you, your perception of the world around you changes, allowing you to have a heightened ability to ignore outside stimuli. 22.
As many words do, Poise has 1st, 2nd and 3rd and so definitions. Synonyms include grace, confidence, elegance, balance, equilibrium, balanced and suspended. But in this presentation, Poise is the ‘undivided attention, total possession and entire presence of mind’.
“The attitude of Poise demands perfect concentration, because all mental energies at that time are concentrated and are not scattered.
“Scattered energies are always lost. Masterfulness requires that all mental energies are concentrated and not scattered.
Just as the participants in the Masters Golf Tournament, masterfulness is celebrated and rewarded. Masters in SRE require superior dexterity, finesse, expertise, experience, talent, know-how, many other superlatives and are known as experts.
“To be able to focalize all the power of mind and body upon the one thing that we desire to accomplish during ‘the now’ is one of the greatest secrets of success.” For athletes Poise “is even indispensable. No one can succeed without concentration. Perfect concentration is required for success.”
“Concentration is a state of consciousness that is not actual until it becomes permanent. Concentration requires a ‘wide awake mind’, ‘wide awake attention’, undivided attention, and full mental action, where the attention is directed. 23.
“Perfection is a state of completeness and flawlessness and used to designate a range of diverse often associated concepts. 18.104.22.168.28.
Where in the brain is the neuroanatomy for Perfectionism? “For the first time in 1978, perfectionism was considered as a personality trait by Hollender (Hollender, 1978).
Among the first definitions of perfectionism was the one provided by him as: “The practice of demanding of oneself or others a higher quality of performance than is required by the situation”.
“Two distinct dimensions are considered for perfectionism: the normal (or positive) perfectionism and neurotic (or negative) perfectionism.
“Different people around us behave and act differently in their life, because of their different genetics, cultures, motivations and the lifestyles.
“This relationship was investigated using voxel-based morphometry on the whole brain MRI images of 49 volunteers.
“Multiple regression analysis of the data revealed two regions of the brain that are positively correlated with the negative perfectionism scale. The regions were Left Precuneus and temporal thalamus. MRI scans are shown in this article for those readers interested : The brain regions significantly correlated with the negative perfectionism scale, as resulted from this study. Left scan: Thalamus. Right scan: The left precuneus.
The results of this study demonstrated that individual differences in negative perfectionism, correlates with individual differences in specific brain regions.
“It was previously shown that the activity in the posterior medial cortex including the precuneus increased when the participants cued to think about their duties and obligations, positive perfectionism.
“In addition, another study has shown that the increased gray matter volume stimulation in precuneus is correlated with persistence, perfectionism. Persistence is defined as the ability to maintain motivations internally, in the absence of immediate reward. People who achieve high persistence scores are generally hardworking, overachieving and perfectionist.
“Thalamus is mainly considered as a relay center that collects the sensory information and delivers them to the cerebral cortex. It has been shown that the gray matter volume at the thalamus has a positive correlation with the Obsessive-Compulsive disorder (OCD).
“On the other hand, perfectionism is suggested as a risk factor for the development of OCD and it is known that OCD patients demonstrate some of the main perfectionism-related behaviors. 29.
“Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations. It is best conceptualized as a multidimensional characteristic, as psychologists agree that there are many positive and negative aspects.
“In its maladaptive form, perfectionism drives people to attempt to achieve an unattainable ideal while their adaptive perfectionism can sometimes motivate them to reach their goals. In the end, they derive pleasure from doing so. When perfectionists do not reach their goals, they often fall into depression. 30.31.32.
“Perfectionists strain compulsively and unceasingly toward unobtainable goals, and measure their self-worth by productivity and accomplishment. Pressuring oneself to achieve unrealistic goals inevitably sets the person up for disappointment. Perfectionists tend to be harsh critics of themselves when they fail to meet their standards. 33.
“D. E. Hamachek in 1978 argued for two contrasting types of perfectionism: classifying people as tending towards normal perfectionism and neurotic perfectionism.
“Normal perfectionists are more inclined to pursue perfection without compromising their self-esteem, and derive pleasure from their efforts.
“Neurotic perfectionists are prone to strive for unrealistic goals and feel dissatisfied when they cannot reach them.
“Contemporary research supports the idea that these two basic aspects of perfectionistic behavior, as well as other dimensions such as “non-perfectionism”, can be differentiated.
“Others such as T. S. Greenspon disagree with the terminology of “normal” vs. “neurotic” perfectionism, and hold that perfectionists desire perfection and fear imperfection and feel that other people will like them only if they are perfect. 22.214.171.124.38.39.40.
The primary purpose of the Martin research was “to determine whether adolescent athletes’ levels of sport burnout would be correlated with, or predicted by, their level and type of passion and the degree to which they identify with the athlete role.
Measures for burnout, passion and athletic identity were completed by 218 high school female athletes attending summer camps.
“Based on research in the past and theory to date, it was hypothesized that obsessive passion would be positively related to burnout while harmonious passion would not be related to burnout.
“Martin research found that harmonious passion was related to positive consequences and obsessive passion related to negative consequences. 41.
Harmonious passion results from an autonomous internalization of the activity into the person’s identity. Passion for sport, recreation and exercise (SRE) participation and SRE perfectionism are manifestations of Total Mindfulness or Undivided Conscious Attention.
Mindfulness is purposefully and nonjudgmentally paying attention to the present moment. The primary purpose of the Giluk study was to provide a more precise empirical estimate of the relationship between mindfulness and the Big Five personality traits as well as trait affect.
“Personality is basically your behavioral patterns over a long-term period. Current research results present inconsistent or highly variable estimates of these relationships. Meta-analysis was used to synthesize findings from 32 samples in 29 studies. Results indicate that, although all of the personality traits display significant relationships with mindfulness, the strongest relationships are found with neuroticism, negative affect, and conscientiousness.
Conscientiousness, in particular, is often ignored by mindfulness researchers; results here indicate it deserves stronger consideration. Although the results provide a clearer picture of how mindfulness relates to these traits, they also highlight the need to ensure an appropriate conceptualization and measurement of mindfulness. 42.
Author Domain Statement: The trait Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) is in the public domain and special permission is not required to use it for research or clinical purposes. The trait MAAS has been validated for use with college student and community adults (Brown & Ryan, 2003), and for individuals with cancer (Carlson & Brown, 2005). A detailed description of the trait MAAS, along with normative score information, is found below, as is the scale and its scoring. A validated state version of the MAAS is also available in Brown and Ryan (2003) or upon request.
Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), trait version Characteristics of the scale: The trait MAAS is a 15-item scale designed to assess a core characteristic of mindfulness, namely, a
•receptive state of mind in which attention, informed by a sensitive awareness of what is occurring in the present, simply observes what is taking place.
•conceptually driven mode of processing, in which events and experiences are filtered through
•and other forms of cognitive manipulation.
•Across many studies conducted since 2003, the trait MAAS has shown excellent psychometric (psyche measurement) properties.
Factor analyses with undergraduate, community and nationally sampled adult, and adult populations have confirmed a single factor scale structure (Brown & Ryan, 2003; Carlson & Brown, 2005). Internal consistency levels (Cronbach’s alphas) generally range from .80 to .90.
The MAAS has demonstrated high test-retest reliability, discriminant and convergent validity, known-groups validity, and criterion validity. Correlational, quasi-experimental, and experimental studies have show that the trait MAAS measures a unique quality of consciousness that is related to, and predictive of, a variety of emotion regulation, behavior regulation, interpersonal, and well-being phenomena.
The trait MAAS measure takes 5 minutes or less to complete. A validated, 5-item state version of the MAAS is also available in Brown and Ryan (2003) or upon request. 43.
Van Dam et al concurred that The Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) is one of the most popular measures of mindfulness, exhibiting promising psychometric properties and theoretically consistent relationships to brain activity, mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) outcomes, and mediation of MBI effects. The findings suggest that general statements of ‘‘automatic inattentiveness” or ‘‘automatic pilot” confer greater statistical information about the underlying latent trait. 44.
Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS) is a 39-item self-report questionnaire in which participants rate their general tendency to be mindful in daily life/trait mindfulness (Baer, Smith, & Allen, 2004). The questions are based on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (never or very rarely true) to 5 (very often or always true). Of the plethora of mindfulness scales available (Baer, Smith, Hopkins, Krietemeyer, & Toney, 2006), the KIMS was selected because it was specifically designed for use with individuals with limited exposure to any type of mindfulness skills training or practice such as meditation (McKee, Zvolensky, Solomon, Bernstein, & Leen-Feldner, 2007).
Factor analysis indicated the KIMS consists of 4 higher-order factors:
1.Observe (observing, noticing, or paying attention to various internal and external stimuli),
2.Describe (describing or noting observed phenomena in a nonjudgmental way),
3.Act with Awareness (being attentive and engaging fully in one’s present activity),
4.and Accept (or allow) without Judgment (to be as is without judging, avoiding, changing, or escaping
The KIMS also demonstrates good concurrent and discriminative validity, positively correlating with the Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS; Brown & Ryan, 2003), the Trait Meta-Mood Scale (TMMS; Salovey et al., 1995), and the Conscientiousness and Openness scale of the NEO-FFI, and negatively correlating with the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire. 45.
Baer findings suggest that Mindfulness Skills are differentially related to aspects of personality and mental health including neuroticism, psychological symptoms, emotional intelligence, alexithymia, experiential avoidance, dissociation, and absorption. 46.
Cognitive evaluation theory, embraced within self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 1991), suggests that an event that satisfies an inherent need for competence and autonomy leads to increased intrinsic motivation (Standage, Duda, & Pensgaard, 2005).
Similarly, Brown and Ryan (2003) found that ‘personality’ trait-mindfulness predicted more autonomous activity in day-to-day life and lower intensity and frequency of negative affect.
It was therefore hypothesized that in a population of collegiate athletes, a relationship between mindfulness and goal orientation would exist; athletes higher in task-orientation would be more mindful than athletes higher in ego-orientation.
Results indicate that a relationship does in fact exist between the Acting with Awareness subscale of the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS; Baer, Smith, & Allen, 2004) and task-orientation, in that as level of awareness increases, the level of task-orientation also increases. Level of awareness also predicted level of task orientation in athletes. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.
The hypothesis that athletes higher in task orientation are more likely to be higher in levels of ‘personality’ trait mindfulness, and athletes who are more ego-oriented are more likely to be lower in levels of trait mindfulness was partially supported by this research.
Athletes who rated themselves higher in likelihood to sets goals based on a desire to master particular skills or tasks also viewed themselves as more attentive to and fully engaged in their present activity than athletes who were more likely to rate success based on outperforming other athletes and winning games.
Baer et al. (2008) contrasts acting with awareness to operating on autopilot, suggesting that athletes who are higher in task-orientation are more likely to engage in sport with present moment-focused awareness and have a greater awareness of their physical sensations and surroundings; this awareness will enable the athlete to use internal and external feedback to maximize performance and master the task at hand. Because they are more aware of their physical, emotional, and external cues, they are less likely to engage in their environment in a mindless way.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recently released a number of consensus statements regarding the psychological impact of injury and return-to-play, the most recent recognizing that incidence of injury in sports medicine may be influenced by the presence of risk factors (including psychological risk factors) and that training staffs should be able to recognize these risk factors, implement intervention strategies, and quantify outcomes. By increasing levels of mindfulness and task orientation in athletes, which in turn will lead to an increased willingness to accept and fully experience the vast array of internal experiences that will likely occur during competition, we can teach the athlete to function and perform in the direction of achieving their performance goals (i.e., value-driven behavior) regardless of the thoughts and emotions experienced. 47.
Sobral found that medical students portray distinct patterns of autonomous and controlled motivation that seem to relate to the learners’ frame of mind towards learning as well as the educational environment. Autonomous motivation had closer relationships than controlled motivation with measures of self-regulation of learning and academic success in the context of a demanding medical programme. 48.
This research describes self-determination theory as a theory of work motivation and shows its relevance to theories of organizational behavior. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 49.
Vallerand et al research ascertained the role of intrinsic, extrinsic, and amotivational styles as predictors of behavioral persistence in a real-life setting. At the beginning of the academic year, 1,042 first-term junior-college students enrolled in a compulsory college course. Results showed that individuals who persisted in the course had reported at the beginning of the semester being more intrinsically motivated, more identified and integrated, and less amotivated toward academic activities than students who dropped out of the course. 50.
Kuvaas et al research Highlights revealed:
•Intrinsic motivation was uniformly associated with positive employee outcomes.
•Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, was negatively related or unrelated to positive outcomes. 51.
Results revealed that (1) the effect of teacher structure on students’ autonomous motivation was positive only when differentiated instruction strategies were frequently used, and this moderated effect was partially mediated by perceived competence, and (2) teacher structure was negatively associated with students’ controlled motivation only when differentiated instruction was provided infrequently, and this moderated effect was not explained by perceived competence. 52.
Orsini et al findings were that an autonomy-supportive environment may lead students to value and engage in academic activities and eventually foster the use of an autonomy-supportive style to motivate their patients. 53.
Two studies investigated the extent to which an orientation towards complex, effortful thinking rather than effortless, expedient thinking (contributes to greater autonomous regulation in life in general and for academic study. Analyses generally indicated that reduced amotivation and controlled regulation, and greater autonomous regulation and intrinsic motivation, were associated with greater wellbeing (i.e., vitality, life satisfaction) and adaptive learning characteristics (i.e., academic engagement, self-directed learning). 54.
Studies investigating self-determined motivation in relation to learning strategy use and its educational outcomes in physical education are lacking. The purpose of the present study was therefore to test a Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 2000) process model of learning strategy use as it related to participation and performance in physical education courses in eighth through tenth grades. In this model, autonomy support from teachers was hypothesized to be positively related to basic psychological need satisfaction. In turn, need satisfaction was expected to be positively related to autonomous motivation and perceived competence, both of which should be positively related to learning strategy use. Finally, learning strategy use was hypothesized to be positively related to the level of participation and the performance (i.e., grades) in physical education courses. Structural equation modeling supported the SDT process model. 55.
Flow is an experience of enjoyment, concentration, and low self-awareness that occurs during active task performance.
The aim of the study was partly exploratory, but we also addressed three specific hypotheses suggested by earlier literature, i.e. that flow proneness is (i) correlated with personality, specifically with traits reflecting emotional stability (low neuroticism) and conscientiousness; (ii) unrelated to cognitive ability; and (iii) correlated with trait intrinsic motivation. The results confirmed all three hypotheses. 56.
Concepts from 2 motivational theories recur throughout the review of motivational factors for student-athletes: self-determination theory (SDT; Ryan et al., 2009) and achievement goal theory (AGT) (Rogers et al., 2008).
SDT has a vast body of research on its own but for the sake of this review it is important to acknowledge the powerful impact of intrinsic and extrinsic motives as well as autonomy, competence, and relatedness (Ryan et al., 2009).
The 40-year meta-analysis conducted by Cerasoli, Nicklin, and Ford (2014) found intrinsic motives and extrinsic incentives MOTIVATIONAL FACTORS INFLUENCING ATHLETE GOALS 5 to mutually predict human behavior across a full spectrum of behavior.
The meta-analysis covered over 212,000 subjects which is a large sample size for gaining significance. The Rottensteiner, Tolvanen, Laasko, and Konttinen (2015) results showed youth athletes’ perceived competence to positively impact persistence and was positively correlated with autonomous motivation.
Further, in a study of 241 team sport athletes, Healy, Ntoumanis, Veldhuijzen van Zanten, and Paine (2014) emphasize the high importance of an autonomy-supportive environment for the psychological needs of athletes.
Thus, the reviewed literature appears to support SDT’s (self-determination theory) (Ryan et al., 2009) main factors of motivational influence – autonomy, competence, & relatedness.
The meta-analysis mentioned earlier suggests a highly complex finding in that intrinsic motivation and extrinsic rewards may work the best when structured together to motivate an individual (Cerasoli et al., 2014) the type of preferred goal orientation (task or ego) (Baron-Thiene & Alfermann, 2015), and gender-based differences (Sherry & Zeller, 2014) in order to best encourage student-athletes to become motivated and committed (Weiss, 2015).
The challenge here is not to understand a single variable but instead to understand how a variety of variables work together to ultimately lead student-athletes to being successful with goals. A review of the literature is presented below. After review is complete, conclusions, clinical implications, and further research recommendations are made. Problem Statement
The purpose of the literature review is to synthesize the current body of knowledge related to motivational factors used by student-athletes to be successful with academic, athletic, and personal goals while balancing the complexity of the topic with the conciseness needed for an accurate synthesis.
The Rottensteiner, Tolvanen, Laasko, and Konttinen (2015) results showed youth athletes’ perceived competence to positively impact persistence and was positively correlated with autonomous motivation. This lends to the idea that creating an environment for youth athletes to feel competent in school, sports, and their personal life may lead to sticking with goals and feeling in control of decision making. Buning and Thompson (2015) found female athletes to have a high degree of autonomy or control over their decision to play softball. The female softball players were also most strongly motivated by achieving a high level of competence (desire to be the best), passion (enjoyment of the sport), and relatedness (enjoyable relationships with teammates).
Further, in a study of 241 team sport athletes, Healy, Ntoumanis, Veldhuijzen van Zanten, and Paine (2014) emphasize the high importance of an autonomy-supportive environment for the psychological needs of athletes. Thus, the reviewed literature appears to support SDT’s (Ryan et al., 2009) main factors of motivational influence – autonomy, competence, & relatedness. The meta-analysis mentioned earlier suggests a highly complex finding in that intrinsic motivation and extrinsic rewards may work the best when structured together to motivate an individual (Cerasoli et al., 2014).
The second recurring and significant motivational theory within the literature is achievement goal theory (AGT). AGT mainly explores two goal orientations: task-oriented and ego-oriented (Rogers et al., 2008). Task-oriented subjects judge their ability based on a personal sense of accomplishment or mastery (Rogers et al., 2008). Ego-oriented subjects, conversely, judge performance as it compares to others (Rogers et al., 2008). Rottensteiner et al. (2015) suggest both task- and ego-orientation to be positively related to feelings of competence. MOTIVATIONAL FACTORS INFLUENCING ATHLETE GOALS 6
Therefore, SDT’s proposed important role of competence may be best reached through pursuit of both goal orientations proposed by AGT, not merely one or the other (Rottensteiner et al., 2015). Baron-Thiene and Alfterman (2015) found the overall body of research to be inconclusive as to whether task- or ego-orientation contributed more strongly to students-athletes reaching goals.
In a study of 491 high school and collegiate athletes 14 variables were measured for their impact on sport commitment (Weiss, 2014). Interestingly, the study assessed the sport commitment differences between high school and collegiate athletes as well as the differences between different levels of playing time among groups (Weiss, 2014). The range of findings is too comprehensive to go into detail within this paper but the important point is that there are significant differences in motivational factors for high school compared to collegiate athletes as well as differences between the various playing times of individuals within each group (Weiss, 2014).
The two recurring motivational theories (AGT and SDT) appear to explain certain characteristics within student-athlete motivation but the degree to which they apply to any given student-athlete has yet to be explained in a clear and concise manner. Mental Attributes Improving self-efficacy, or belief in oneself to achieve a task may be seen as a positive contributor to student-athlete motivation. Similarly, limiting anxiety so that mental capacity is not undermined may help to keep student-athletes motivated to work on their academic, athletic, and personal goals. Sari (2015) found self-efficacy to be positively impacted by a strong task orientation and negatively impacted by a strong ego orientation. Sari (2015) also found the type of goal orientation to have no significant impact on anxiety and performance.
Thus, a high level of performance may be achieved by student-athletes with either ego or task orientation. If goal MOTIVATIONAL FACTORS INFLUENCING ATHLETE GOALS 7 orientation does not clearly influence a decrease in anxiety level then the clinician may need to look elsewhere to help student-athletes with performance-inhibiting anxiety levels (Sari, 2015). Rottensteiner et al. (2015) found high levels of both task and ego goal orientation to improve athletes’ feelings of competence. Competence led to higher levels of autonomous motivation which in turn led to greater persistence in sports (Rottensteiner et al., 2015).
Persistence with academic, athletic, and personal goals is an important goal for coaches and parents to teach student-athletes because of the constant challenges that can occur while growing up. Consequently, it appears as though emphasizing both goal orientations of AGT may help student-athletes utilize important motivational factors (competence or confidence) that could lead to success. Buning and Thompson (2015) use the terms competence and confidence synonymously. In one study, coach behaviors that influenced perceived competence or confidence had the strongest correlation with high levels of athletic motivation (Buning & Thompson, 2015).
When exploring the mental factors used by student-athletes to be successful one would be wise to keep athlete burnout in mind. Regardless of goal orientations, mental skills, coach influences, gender differences, or goal adherence, if mental burnout is present then it will be difficult for a student-athlete to be highly successful or motivated. Moen, Abrahamsen, and Furrer (2015) found a mindfulness training program to decrease the negative effects and frequency of athlete burnout. Coach Influence and Perspective One must consider coaches’ influence and perspective when reviewing the literature to determine the motivational factors used by student-athletes to be successful because coaches may interact with players on a daily basis. Buning and Thompson (2015) found coaches’ behavior and MOTIVATIONAL FACTORS INFLUENCING ATHLETE GOALS 8 words reflecting confidence in athletes to emerge as the most significant contributor to an athlete’s motivation and confidence. This finding speaks to the strong role a coach can play in a student-athlete’s life.
In a study of goal striving, well-being, and motivation, results suggested autonomy-promoting coach behaviors correlated to high levels of needs satisfaction in team sport athletes (Healy et al., 2014). Autonomy-promoting coach behaviors are directly in line with SDT’s emphasis on autonomy as essential to understanding motivation (Ryan et al., 2009).
Expert coaches’ perspectives of top performing athletes were explored by Tracey and Elcombe (2015) where five themes were established. Tracey and Elcombe (2015) suggest presence of each theme may lead athletes to being motivated in athletics and potentially other areas of life. The important aspect of the themes as it relates to the problem statement is that the themes cover mental skills, physical skills, and a holistic approach. There does not yet appear to be a quantitative tool to assess the five themes (Tracey & Elcombe, 2015). Expert coaches appear to acknowledge the complexity of motivational factors used by student-athletes to be successful but the path for how to help student-athletes get there remains a mysterious challenge (Tracey & Elcombe, 2015). A life skills program may provide a medium for a coach to influence student-athletes in a highly positive, individualized manner. Hardcastle, Tye, Glassey, and Hagger (2014) studied the perceived effectiveness of a life skills development program and found highly promising results which will be discussed in length later in the review.
Gender Differences and Influences Differences between motivational factors for males and females may be present but it’s unclear to what degree and in which situations it’s most prevalent. Female student-athletes were found to be aware of the significant importance of both academic and athletic goals (Sherry & MOTIVATIONAL FACTORS INFLUENCING ATHLETE GOALS 9 Zeller, 2014) but there are differences between the graduation rates of female and male basketball players. Sherry and Zeller (2014) suggest this may mean that genders prioritize goals differently. In another study there were no differences found between males and females in goal orientation, trait anxiety, and self-efficacy (Sari, 2015). Thus, the literature appears to be inconclusive related to specific gender differences but the sport psychology professional may need to consider gender differences in motivational factors used for success with goals. Goal Adherence When looking at motivational factors in all areas (academic, athletic, and personal life) an important concept is sticking with a goal, simply put, adherence. In order to achieve a goal, one must continue putting effort towards the goal. In one study, limited physical complaints, strong motivation to win, and self-optimization were the key factors related to goal adherence (Baron-Thiene & Alfermann, 2015). Another study (Sylvester et al., 2014) found perceived variety to be related to increased goal adherence in addition to the SDT concepts of autonomy, competence, and relatedness (Ryan et al., 2009).
A challenge within this research is to assess the degree of generalizability that is present. For example, are the motivational factors related to athletic goal success generalizable to academic and personal goal success? Conclusions In attempting to answer the problem statement it appears to be important to strive for environments and support systems that promote autonomy (Healy et al., 2014), competence (Buning & Thompson, 2015), and self-efficacy (Sari, 2015) while finding a unique balance of goal orientations (Rottensteiner et al., 2015) and incentives (Cerasoli et al., 2014). Some people believe more strongly in SDT than AGT and vice versa (Rogers et al., 2008; Ryan et al., 2009) which points to the conclusion that there is no singular, foolproof prescription to influence all MOTIVATIONAL FACTORS INFLUENCING ATHLETE GOALS 10 student-athletes to succeed with goals. If there was, then parents, coaches, and sport psychologists would be able to prescribe this method to all student-athletes looking to be successful. Given the differences between individuals, assessing each student-athlete on an individual basis is imperative. A key to motivational research becoming influential for student athletes is the pursuit of making it practical. Without developing practical, individualized programming to assist student-athletes with motivational factors and goal success, the academic rhetoric remains as just that, academic rhetoric. Parents, coaches, and sport psychology professionals all have the potential to influence motivational factors for student-athletes to use to be successful. Consequently, it’s important for the conclusions of this type of research to be practical. An example of a practical behavior to help student-athletes be successful with their goals is to use one’s words and behaviors to reflect confidence in another’s ability, as highlighted by Buning and Thompson (2015).
When developing parenting rules, sports practice plans, and sport psychology interventions one would be wise to keep a student-athlete’s autonomy, competence, goal orientation in mind. Since there is such a wide range of motivational variables (14 assessed by Weiss, 2015) a coach may be best served to assess individuals on a case by case basis. The more a coach can have small group environments, then the more likely it is that there will be adequate time and attention given to each student-athlete to truly understand the important mental attributes impacting the individual’s motivation. Life skills development programs are a potential practical conclusion to address the need for individual attention to be given to student-athletes. A program consisting of lectures, seminars, and workbooks related to psychological skills development was perceived by athletes, coaches, parents, program facilitators, and sport administrators to be successful in improving MOTIVATIONAL FACTORS INFLUENCING ATHLETE GOALS 11 athletic training engagement, academic time management skills, planning skills, goal setting, and having confidence to succeed in sport (Hardcastle et al., 2014). These findings should not be overlooked. A life skills program may be the holistic, individualized conclusion needed to synthesize and improve the clarity of the answer to the problem statement.
Clinical Implications Through this literature review an attempt has been made to further understand the current motivational factors used by student-athletes to succeed in academic, athletic, and personal goals. The implications of developing autonomy and competence in one’s practice are potentially very positive for student-athlete outcomes (Buning & Thompson, 2015; Healy et al., 2014; Rottensteiner et al., 2015). Further, one can look to strike a balance of motivational motives, incentives, and goal orientations on a case by case basis for student-athletes (Cerasoli et al., 2014; Rottensteiner et al., 2015). The most crucial piece of this area of research is being able to take the theory and turn it into a practical approach to improving the lives of student-athletes. The synthesis of the 14 articles in the literature review allows for a starting point for a practical understanding of the current research as it relates to student-athlete motivation and corresponding academic, athletic, and personal goal success.
Due to the high degree of variation in motivational factors and influences among student-athletes it may be important for the clinical professional to develop programming to assess and foster awareness and skills in improving motivational factors used by student-athletes to be successful. The perceived positive results from the life skills program studied by Hardcastle et al. (2014) illustrated the potential importance of a holistic program in action. The continued development of similar life skills coaching programs that work with student-athletes is crucial to applying the holistic approach MOTIVATIONAL FACTORS INFLUENCING ATHLETE GOALS 12 necessary to enhance the likelihood of student-athletes being successful with academic, athletic, and personal goals. Future Research Future research should continue to explore the motivational differences between different ages, genders, sports, and motivational influences related to student-athletes. It would be helpful to explore if there are significant differences between motivational factors for academic, athletic, or personal goals. For example, do the same motivational factors one uses for academics also apply to athletic pursuits?
The more parents, coaches, and other mentors can understand the complexities of motivational factors used by student-athletes, then the more likely it is that they can employ the knowledge to keep student-athletes moving forward towards excellence in school, sports, and personal life. Specifically, through understanding optimal coaching behaviors, gender-specific motivators, mental attributes, personal preferences, and other motivational influences like social constructs and parental pressure the clinician may be more prepared to assist student-athletes to be successful. The next step is to continue to develop and explore coaching programs that enhance the aforementioned positive motivational factors and goal pursuits. If it’s possible to improve academic, athletic, and personal motivational factors to succeed with a coaching program then it should be pursued.
In conclusion, the ‘Fixed Superior Mindfulness’ of the Supreme Athlete is characterized by Task-Positive Network (TPN) which is engaged when the Athlete attends to the here and now. The TPN is the action network. The TPN is the Athletes direct line to Mindfulness in the Present Moment in which worry and sadness cannot be activated, because the Default Mode Network (DMN) is excluded from that moment.
The Supreme Athlete has many positive personality traits, which the Athlete mindfully organizes from the top of his/her Mind down, while directing total Mindfulness energy, while wasting none, on the athletic tasks at hand.
The supreme Athlete is Accessible, Kind and Courteous to the athletic staff, media and fans, very Self-Confident and Articulate. He/she appear Perceptive, Knowledgeable and Wise about their athletic expertise and obligations.
Practice leading up to the sporting event is always a serious endeavor for them. Supreme Athlete is a student of the game and assumes a Goal-Oriented preparation approach. They are extremely Energetic, Enthusiastic, Innovative, Hard-Working, Dedicated and Conscientious. The Supreme Athlete is always a leader on and off the field. He/she is Organized, a Perfectionist and always maintaining excellent Conditioning, Health, Strength and Readiness. The Supreme Athlete is Uncomplaining and Stoic; never a ‘goldbricker’.
Come game time, the Supreme Athlete remains Focused on Execution of his/her assignments and Winning and are always Concentrative and Courageous. He/she display Impressive, Exciting, Extraordinary, Heroic play and is Imaginative, Skillful, Intrinsically Motivated and Passionate for the game. Supreme athletes play Intelligently, Intuitively, Perceptively and strives for Perfection. He/she often appear Invulnerable.
The Supreme Athlete is Appreciative, Modest and Humble in Victory and Gracious and Self-Critical in defeat.
Off the field the Supreme Athlete has a good Personality and is Genuinely Optimistic, Honest, Honorable, Responsible Self-reliant, Trustworthy, Principled, Reliable, Considerate and always on their best Behavior, very Contemplative and Consciously aware of their surroundings and need to improve themselves and their game.
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