There are few things more frustrating for coaches and fans than watching a player seemingly give up during a performance. Literally, even sometimes when the result is still within their grasp, it looks like they just quit trying. Alternatively, what about the athlete that doesn’t perceive the opposition to be too difficult so they don’t try too hard and play lazy? Frustrating right? Well, there’s a reason why this happens and it’s based on the goal orientation of the athlete. Here’s a quick overview.
The excuses flow soon after a loss for the ego-oriented athlete. An ego-oriented athlete is someone who evaluates their performances against others. They have this little niggling toe injury, the official missed calls, they’re mentally tired, they don’t compete well early in the morning, or they just didn’t feel it that day. Therefore, if they believe that failure or losing is possible, they tend to withdraw or reduce their effort in order to protect their egos.
In other words, when they lose they have what they consider to be a “valid” excuse. It provides a logical reason to explain why they did not win. It was not because they were not good enough, but because of some other reason. This saves their ego because it wouldn’t be fair to make comparisons to other competitors when a “legitimate” reason exists to explain the loss. Their ego is saved!
If losing is likely, expect the athlete to tank (i.e., reduce effort, fail, or quit). One or all of three things will become evident.
Now, let’s flip that situation and place the ego-oriented person in a winning position. What will they do in order to maximize their ego? They’ll reduce effort in order to demonstrate how little work they have to do in order to win. They’ll get lazy and careless, and if they win, it demonstrates not only that they’re better, but how much better they are. They weren’t even trying right? Sometimes this attitude can be dangerous, as the opponent gets back into the match and gains some confidence in the process. Sometimes the arrogance leads to tanking!
Can Ego-Oriented Athletes be Successful?
Yes, they can! Ego-oriented athletes may lack the work ethic of others, or may not win the tight matches, or fight to the very end even when defeat is imminent. But recognize that physical talent is not determined by psychology. An ego-oriented athlete may still have amazing physical skills and abilities that take them very far!
However, more often than not, the ego-oriented athlete is less successful than others, and the ego-oriented athlete will never achieve their true potential. They’ll never achieve their GOAT!
Here’s a little test to determine whether your athlete tends to be ego-oriented. Ask them when they feel successful in sports. If you hear any of the following, it’s a sign they’re likely ego-oriented or thinking that way:
So how do you change an athlete’s thinking? How can you turn them away from the focus on others to improving their own skills and abilities? Well, that’s why you need GOAT Sports Performance to help!
Stay current with my professional activities and recent articles.