Process or outcomes?
Last Updated: September 30, 2008 8:18 PM
Cal Botterill Optimizing Life in Hockey
Young and elite athletes who enjoy the "process" of sport have a big advantage over those worrying about the outcomes.
If you are worrying about outcomes it's impossible to fully focus on the process of performing well. In hockey, it means thinking about each shift and what your role is more than how many goals you have scored or whether you are winning.
So, motivation from within is much more suited to excellence and enjoyment than motivation for outcomes. Enjoying sport for its own sake is much more likely to produce excellence and enjoyment than extrinsic motivation.
Here are some benefits to what we call intrinsic motivation:
1. Better focus on task
2. Less tension/pressure
3. Better images/thoughts
4. Less fluctuation in motivation.
Another way of thinking about this is to remember why you first got involved in sport. In all likelihood, it was because it was fun and you enjoyed the process. Over the years we sometimes forget that because we get so tied up in outcomes.
This focus on the process is crucial. When you are enjoying a task you continue to work at it, which in turn means you are more likely to get good. Some studies show it takes up to 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert! You don't do that by spending every moment worrying about wins and statistics. You do that by concentrating on the process of getting better. It also means you will perform better and have more fun.
This isn't just for young players -- the best athletes focus on the process and let the results take care of themselves. Prior to the gold medal game at the 2002 Olympics and 2004 World Cup of Hockey, Wayne Gretzky reminded Canada's players "to enjoy the process." His record as a player suggests he might be on to something.
Many of the top World Cup skiiers are so focused on the process that they don't even check results until they have rehearsed an even better run in their mind. They understand that excelling in the details is what makes them better.