On the one hand, consider the natural reaction of a parent or coach when a young athlete scores; the praise is disproportionate to a good tactical play or performance of a newly learned technique. As a result, praise and reward become the link to feelings of industry and self-worth. In other words, a young superstar learns to continue participating as a means to obtain awards, wins, goals, praise, and feelings of dominance. This ego goal orientation is beneficial in that it helps athletes build a competitive drive, a will to win.
Although positive for development, this type of goal orientation is highly dependent upon uncontrollable outcomes and overrides an athletes desire to participate for the enjoyment of acquiring new skills. Young superstars are particularly challenged because, in the face of excessive reward and praise, they must also learn to connect feelings of industry and self-worth with individual improvement. This can be troubling for any young athlete because it requires a great deal of self-assessment as opposed to comparison. However, if this task-mastery type of goal orientation is learned, then feelings of pride and satisfaction thrive and one’s motivation to participate endures.
In conclusion, motivation to continue participating in a sport is dependent upon two orientations: ego versus task-mastery. With an ego orientation, athletes are motivated to score, win, and receive praise, which is an excellent focus to help build competitiveness. Young superstars are essentially built off this motivation, however they must also learn to focus on individual improvement so when the outcomes are not achieved, there is continued participation and enjoyment. The most successful athletes are the ones who are able to draw from both orientations.