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"New Year, New Start. New Year, New Me.

You have either heard it before or said it yourself before. What actually is the whole ‘new year resolutions’ about. Well it’s motivation. Sometimes this motivation lasts for a long time and maybe we achieve our resolutions, often motivation for our resolutions last for a for a short time... but why?

Below is a passage take from my Master’s Thesis (MSc Coaching Science). This passage talks about motivation and how understanding and being able to instill motivation in players & self can become a powerful tool when looking to achieve goals or these resolutions that we talk about at this time of the year. It also can be powerful to look at your motivation and what drove you to make these resolutions when you either achieve or do not achieve what you have set out to do.

As mentioned this passage is taken from my MSc Thesis which in this particular section talks about the motivation of soldierson the front line & rugby players but can be applicable to every day life.

‘Why do they do what they do?’ This is often a question asked among peers or social groups and often people don’t know why they are in a certain line of work or why they chose the career path that they are on. (Mallett and Hanrahan, 2004) use the phrase “What makes the ‘fire’ burn so brightly?” Coaches may be heard to say that superior performers at the elite level are really ‘driven’ that they are ‘hungrier’ or obsessed with achieving success, but why are some athletes more driven than others (Mallett and Hanrahan, 2004), what it is that makes some people return to combat voluntarily (Henriksen, 2007).

To be motivated can be interpreted as to be moved to do something (Ryan & Deci, 2000). A person who feels no impetus or inspiration to act is thus characterized as unmotivated, and conversely someone who is energized or activated toward an end is considered motivated (Ryan & Deci, 2000).

When examining motivation, we must consider two aspects in order to arrive at any appreciation of the quality of that motivation; i.e., how much motivation, and also the orientation or type of that motivation (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Orientation of motivation is essentially the underlying attitudes and goals that give rise to action—that is, it concerns the “why” of actions (Ryan & Deci, 2000).

Motivation gives subordinates the will to do everything they can to accomplish a mission. It results in their acting on their own initiative when they see something needs to be done (United States Army, 1999).

Following years of research on the subject, psychologists have arrived at the conclusion that there are two broad types of motivation (Vallerand, 2004).

Intrinsic Motivation, which refers to doing something because it is inherently interesting or enjoyable, and Extrinsic Motivation, which refers to doing something because it leads to a separable outcome (Ryan & Deci, 2000).

Intrinsic Vs Extrinsic

Motivation of Elite Rugby players and Soldiers Intrinsic motivation refers to engaging in an activity for itself and for the pleasure and satisfaction derived from participation (Vallerand, 2004). Intrinsic motivation has emerged as an important phenomenon for educators (Coaches or Officers) — a natural wellspring of learning and achievement that can be systematically catalysed or undermined by parent and teacher practices (Ryan & Stiller, 1991). Intrinsic motivation results in high quality learning and creativity, it is especially important to detail the factors and forces that engender versus undermine it (Ryan & Deci, 2000).

As coaches are often labelled ‘educators’, they need to be aware since players who are not intrinsically motivated may not learn as quickly as intrinsically motivated athletes. It is logical to assume that some rugby players may be intrinsically motivated to play rugby union at the top level.

Soldiers who have experienced combat frequently relate strongly heightened sensory perception, an intense feeling of being alive and extraordinary emotional experience, where emotions like love and hate are taken to to unknown extremes (Henriksen, 2007). Rugby players may experience the same emotions as Henrikesen claims soldiers do, they may enjoy the game, they may enjoy the training regime necessary to compete at such a level, and they may enjoy the contact, the quick pace and the physical demands that the game inherently places upon participants. Although, in one sense, intrinsic motivation exists within individuals, in another sense intrinsic motivation exists in the relation between individuals and activities (Ryan & Stiller, 1991). People are intrinsically motivated for some activities and not others, and not everyone is intrinsically motivated for any particular task (Ryan & Stiller, 1991).

Intrinsic motivations are those motivations that the civilian brings into the military as genetic, culture or social endowments (Newsome, 2003). Vallerand (2004) states that there are at least three different types of intrinsic motivation: intrinsic motivation to know (engaging in the activity to learn), intrinsic motivation towards accomplishments (engaging in the activity for the pleasure of trying to surpass oneself), intrinsic motivation to experience stimulation (engaging in the activity out of sensory and aesthetic pleasure).

When extrinsically motivated, individuals do not necessarily engage in an activity out of pleasure but rather do so to derive some kind of rewards that are external to the activity itself (Vallerand, 2004). Elite rugby players play rugby as a profession, Joel Monaghan said after he nearly lost his contract through a moment of madness ''I don't want to lose my livelihood” (Proszenko, 2010), so it follows that in most cases there will be an element of extrinsic motivation involved. The same philosophy applies for soldiers who also get paid for their service. However, Mallett and Hanrahan (2004), state that there has been little research conducted on motivation on elite athletes. Much of the motivation research to date has been conducted in an academic setting and to a lesser extent in sport and exercise (Mallett and Hanrahan, 2004). In combat extrinsic motivations are those derived from the military by socialization, training and other forms of conditioning (Newsome, 2003). Within the sporting setting research has focused on recreational or sub elite athletes (Mallett and Hanrahan (2004). The findings of Mallett and Hanrahans’ (2004) study into the motivation of elite athletes showed that there were three attributes/characteristics that motivated these elite athletes: (a) high drive by personal goals and accomplishment, (b) strong self-belief, (c) life outside the sport.

Henriksen (2007) believes that once a solider dresses up in uniform he is comparable to all other soldiers. Henriksen disregards the personal goals and motives of the soldiers. Do coaches and players share this same relationship? Further in his study, Henriksen (2007) states that there is a gap in literature as a result of a reluctance to account for individual differences between soldiers motivation within units. However, for sports players to accomplish their personal goals they will need to be selected to play for their chosen professional team or even country.

This phenomenon leads us to believe that it should be the role of the coach to ensure that athletes are conscious of what constitutes their goals and personal accomplishments and, then to ensure that they never “max out” or reach their ceiling thus ensuring that this inner drive is maintained. Research would suggest that the coach has the responsibility to instill self-belief in the athletes, and also to take note and genuine interest in the athlete’s personal life and well being. In order to explore this theory further, it is important to examine what it is that coaches are looking for from their players, and how they select players to participate as the team, group or unit.

Twitter: @RyszardChadwick

Founder - The Rugby Advantage -

Director of Academy Programs - Play Rugby USA -

Director of High Performance - Northeast Olympic Development Rugby Academy -

Coach Educator - World Rugby & USA Rugby -

Coach of Multiple Rugby Teams - U'18 > National Development. (15's & 7's)

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