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Theories of Environmental Influences on Sport Performance

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A theory that reviews the different environmental factors is the Social Learning Theory. This was created by Bandura and reviews the type of impact the environment has upon behaviour. Bandura believed characteristic traits do not impact behaviour and is dependent on the environment they are in. It allows explanation as to why some introverted sportsman may show extroverted behaviour. Performers who have the characteristics of being introverted may participate in sports such as football which is typically a sport an extrovert would choose due to its high levels of arousal. In Bandura’s theory this is due to external factors such as family and friends that have encouraged the athlete to participate in this type of sport. Bandura believed that two main catagories impact behaviour. These are modelling and social reinforcement.

Modelling is when a behavior is copied by those around them. It also enables explanation to out of character behaviour, especially in levels of high arousal. An example of this could be screaming and shouting towards a crowd after scoring a goal. This is not behaviour expected from an introvert, however if the athlete has seen this modelled by numerous football players on television then the athlete is more likely to behave in this manner.

The second impact upon behaviour is social reinforcement. This explores how others responses to your behaviour can impact how regularly you behave in a specific way. It is often positive reinforcement that has the largest impact, as if receive a positive response to behaviour you are more likely to complete it again. An example would be diving within football. If an athlete dives within a football match and receives a penalty, not only has he gained the penalty, but also positive reinforcement by both coach and teammates. The athlete is therefore more likely to perform that behaviour again. Bandura also advised people that are trying to train athetles and performers. He believed there are four stages to help modify behaviour. In sport these modifications can also help modify sports performance.

The first stage is called modelling. When a performer copies another athlete’s behaviour this is known as modelling. If they are successful and dominant, they are likely to hold the attention of someone such as if a gymnasts demonstrates a skill they are able to copy and take the technique from the demonstration. An example of this is when a young footballer watches Ronaldo complete a bicycle kick. Due to Ronaldo’s high publicity he is seen as a role model and the young sportsman would copy behaviour. The second stage is retention; this is when the behaviour or skill is in your memory, this is effective in sports such as a tennis player as they will watch their competitor from previous games and watch how they perform. If an action is not memorable there will be a severe lack of motivation and retention. This is important during sports and impacts performance.

The third social learning theory is motor reproduction this is when a sports performer repeats and practices skills, such as in golf practicing hitting the ball with power and speed. They observe and then practice and then learn to perform it. This is important during sports performance as actions and skills need to be habitual to help ensure performance is high during high levels of arousal. Motor theory is the final theory of the bandura theory. This theory is when the sports performer performs the task or skill they have observed, having time to practice will lead to them getting better and becoming more confident in the skill. An example of this is Cricket, as the baller will have to practice throwing the ball and being able to catch it. If the individual practices their technique they will be able to build their confidence and power with throwing the ball. This section can sometimes lead to a lack of motivation due to the repetitive nature of the task; however it is crucial for an improvement in sports performance. This social learning theory reviews how environmental factors can impact sports performance. It has strong theories regarding motivation, however the fact it does not include any influence of personality traits leaves to question the reliability of this theory.

An interactional theory is trying to consider both personality types and environmental influences when considering behaviour and performance. This means that both the personality types and social learning theory are taken into account. Both of these factors are believed to have an equal impact upon performance and behaviour. This means that specific situations may result in an introvert behaving in an extroverted situation due to modelling and social reinforcement; however other situations are surrounding low levels of arousal. This theory takes into consideration both situational and individual factors and therefore seems more reliable when discussing the impact personality has upon performance.

In order to individualise the type of training and approach given to each individual personality assessments have been created. The first test I explored was created by Eysenck. The test focused on how we are able to measure the dimensions previously stated; introverted and extroverted, stable and neurotic. The second test was Cattells test, it had a lot more questions than Eysenck test, and this made the test more reliable. This test looked at two types of personalities; type A and type B personalities. This test was created by Cattells as he reviewed behaviour before his patients went into surgery and discovered that individuals could be placed into two types of categories when dealing with high levels of stress or anxiety.

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