Types of Motivation

written by: Taylor Greenwood

     Motivation- a factor that drives us to do things. Among the many studied areas of sports psychology, motivation is near the top (Perry, 106). Essentially, everything we do is accompanied by a specific source of motivation. What most people don’t know, however, is that motivation has 3 forms: intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation and amotivation. Each of these forms gives insight to why an athlete may be driven to do what they do and to why they choose to participate in their sport.

Joziah platform.png

     Let’s start with intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is a motivational source that comes from within the athlete and is a final result. Considered the most stable motivational factor of the three motivational types, intrinsic motivations are sources that are chosen by the athlete themselves, i.e. they lift weights to feel good, lift weights to experience the stimulation of the exercises, or lift weights because they enjoy the process of learning and trying new lifts. Theoretically, when an athlete engages in something because they want to, they are more likely to continue engagement even throughout rough times.

     Extrinsic motivation is a motivational sources that come from outside influences, outside of the individual. You can think of this motivational source as one that causes an athlete to participate in their sport due to a ‘have to’ source, i.e. I have to participate in my sport because my friends are participating. An example of an extrinsic motivation would be engaging in weightlifting just to win metals or to gain the approval from others. These types of motivations are said to assist the athlete in achieving the result- the final result that the intrinsic motivational sources already includes. While extrinsic motivations are inevitable, they are not the best source of motivation as outside influences are not always present to motivate the athlete.

     In a perfect world, the number of intrinsic motivational sources would outnumber the number of extrinsic motivational sources. However, perfection is not fully realistic. Aiming for a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivational sources is typical for an athlete with the aim for the athlete to have a few more intrinsic motivational sources than they do extrinsic motivational sources.

     Finally we have amotivation, which is not an actual motivational source. In fact, amotivation is the lack thereof of a motivational source. Athletes who experience amotivation have no interest in engaging in any activities due to the thoughts and beliefs that any effort expended would not equate to an improvement.

An example of results from the Sports Motivation Scale, where the sample was 275 students (78 women and 197 men) with a mean age of 21.3 years old (SD 3.8) representing 8 different sports.

An example of results from the Sports Motivation Scale, where the sample was 275 students (78 women and 197 men) with a mean age of 21.3 years old (SD 3.8) representing 8 different sports.

     Are you curious about which type of motivational sources you have more of? Take The Sport Motivation Scale (SMS-28) questionnaire to find out!

Take the Survey

Perry, John. “Motivation.” Sports Psychology: A Complete Introduction. 22 March 2016. 106-117. Hodder & Stoughton 

Núñez, Juan & Martin-Albo, Jose & Navarro, José & González-Ruiz, Víctor. (2006). Preliminary validation of a Spanish version of the Sport Motivation Scale. Perceptual and motor skills. 102. 919-30. 10.2466/pms.102.3.919-930.