University-athletes' personal potential profiling analysis



PhD, Associate Professor L.M. Volosnikova
PhD, Associate Professor E.A. Kukuev
PhD O.V. Ogorodnova
Tyumen State University, Tyumen

Keywords: personal potential, sport, self-management, self-determination, self-fulfilment

Background. The relevant State Educational Standard regulates the bachelor and master education process by the relevant sets of competences acquired in the studies. However, the competences must in no case be considered as isolated fragments of the process as they should evolve as interrelated and integrated components of the personality fitness standards applicable both to the professional career and private life of an adult graduate.

It is the personal potential that may be used as a key system-forming factor. D.A. Leontiev, for instance, stated that “the personal potential may be viewed as an integrated indicator of the personal maturity level” [2, p. 5]. Furthermore, as proved in national psychology, the personal qualities development process is influenced by the individual activity (L.S. Vygotskiy, A.N. Leontiev, S.L. Rubinstein et al.). Effects of systemic sport practices have also been studied by many researchers (A.S. Franchenko, A.M. Ilyukhin et al.). The sport science commonly applies such notions as the personal sport culture [3] and personal physical culture [1], and this fact demonstrates the top priority being given to sports and physical education in the personality formation process.

I.V. Manzheley (2015) makes a special emphasis on the “personality creating potential of physical culture” for the reason that physical culture and sports facilitate the “individual focus and fitness... and the ability to analyze and make a choice...” [4, p. 79]. In our opinion, this statement holds true for the essence of a personal potential. As provided by D.A. Leontiev, a personal potential means the “integral characteristic of the individual mental traits of a personality that underlie the individual ability to apply the internal criteria and reference points in every life situation and keep due balance of the genuine senses under external pressures and varying conditions” [2, p. 7]. Systemic sport practices will help shape up due self-management, self-determination and self-fulfilment qualities, and these qualities are highly important for and developed by active sport practices.

Objective of the study was to make a comparative analysis of the personal potentials of the sporting students versus the non-sporting ones.

Methods and structure of the study. Subject to the study were senior students of Tyumen State University (based in Tyumen city with affiliates in the towns of Ishym and Tobolsk) split up into the following two groups: Group One of 124 sporting students engaged in active sports and having formal sport qualifications (dominated by those majoring in Physical Education); and Group Two of 175 non-sporting students (non-qualified as athletes) majoring in Education and Teaching Sciences.

For the personal potential rating purposes, the following survey methods were used: the “Self-Organization of Activity” (SOA) questionnaire by E.Y. Mandrikova designed to test the individual tactical planning and strategic priorities setting skills; the “Differential Test of Reflection” (DTR) by D.A. Leontiev to test a variety of reflection components including introspection, systemic reflexion and quasi-reflexion; the “Personal self-determination” (PSD) test scale, modified by E.N. Osin, designed to test the individual operability in the situation of relative freedom from the preset operational requirements; the “Satisfaction With Life Scale" (SWLS) developed by A. Diener to rate the actual living situations versus the individual expectations; and the “Career Anchors” (CA) questionnaire by E. Schein for testing the individual determination to find and form a professional environment needed for self-fulfilment.

The study data were processed using SPSS-17.0 toolkit. A dispersion analysis and factor analysis were chosen as statistical data analysing methods. The Levene’s [professional profiling] test was applied in the calculation procedures. Selected for further interpretation were the data arrays showing normal distribution and rated statistically significant at p ≤0.05.

Study results and discussion. We used a method of dispersion analysis based on the mean average values being compared. The statistically significant resultant data are given in Table 1 hereunder.

Table 1. Dispersion analysis of the personal potential components in the subject students, n=299

Rated qualities

Average score



Sporting subjects

Non-sporting subjects

SOA, purposefulness





SOA, focus on the present





DTR, systemic reflexion





DTR, introspection





PSD, authenticity





PSD, self-expression





SWLS, life satisfaction





CA, service





CA, business





CA, freedom from...






The study and data analysis showed the average scores of the following personal potential components were higher in the sporting students versus the non-sporting ones:

  • Purposefulness meaning the core quality of a highly motivated and purpose-focused person who knows exactly what he/she wants and aspires and goes straight towards these purposes;
  •  Focus on the present refers to the individual ability to concentrate on what is going on with him/her at the current moment. People of that kind are generally reluctant to turn back to the past or postpone the things that may be done right now, in present. The higher rates of the sporting students mean that they are more accurate in analyzing their present situations.
  • Systemic reflexion means the ability to distance from one's own personality and have a look at oneself from aside to consider oneself from the two opposite poles - as a subject and an object. The higher rates of the sporting students may mean that they are higher capable of reflexion;
  • Authenticity and self-expression means a personal situation when life meets individual wishes and expectations (“I live my own life for it is good for me, my genuine self”). The sporting students’ activity ratings are indicative of the fact that their core activity makes sense, i.e. their lives meet their expectations;
  • Life satisfaction scores are indicative of a degree of internal harmony and mental contentment. The higher average rates mean that the sporting students are engaged in sports on a permanent and active basis, and this is the way for them to manifest their life satisfaction and accept the life as rich with their vocational activity;
  • Service rates are high in the people whose core values in the vocational career are centred on “work with people”, “service to the mankind”, “desire to make the world better” etc. People with such a mindset will be reluctant to work for an institution that falls at variance with their core objectives and values. The higher rates of the sporting students mean the higher degree of agreement with the vocational activity that means that they are more prepared to serve in their vocational roles.

The non-sporting students showed the significantly higher statistical rates in the following components of the personal potential:

  • Introspection, that is characteristic of a person’s concentration on the own state and sentiments. Provisionally this specification for the purposes of the method is called “self-searching”. The highly-rated students are more inclined to negativism in their self-analysis;
  • Business refers to the focus on personal career dominated by the desire to make something new, overcome barriers and take risks. This is generally a positive mindset indicative of the person’s readiness for innovative initiatives.
  • Freedom from... is indicative of the degree of concentration on the freedom from the rules and restrictions of the environment, with the highly-rated students being more inclined to avoid “being loaded”. The desire to “get free” may be interpreted as unhappiness with the imposed career path – in contrast to the sporting students who show a good agreement with the vocational path they once opted for.

Factor analysis was designed to explore the content of the personal potential components in every sample. The factor analysis was based on the following parameters: Screening Method: Principle Component Analyses; Method of Rotating Coordinates: Varimax with Kaiser Normalization.

The non-sporting students’ sample: Factor 1: self-determination, including: authenticity (0.740); self-expression (0.759); and the total self-determination index (0.898). Factor 2: career, including: service (0.806); challenge (0.723); freedom for... (0.801); and freedom from... (0.776). Factor 3: self-management, including: conformity to the plan (0.713); and total self-management index (0.916).

The sporting students’ sample: Factor 1: self-determination, including: authenticity (0.717); self-expression (0.779); and total self-determination index (0.898). Factor 2: self-management, including: conformity to the plan (0.733); insistence ().716); and total self-management index (0.904). Factor 3: career, including: service (0.712); challenge (0.747); and freedom for... (0.750).

The above resultant data are indicative of the differences in the sets of the personal potential components. Factor 1 was found to include the same components in both of the samples, namely the self-determination related ones. This may be due to the similarity of the problems students face at the early self-establishment stage. Knowing that personal self-determination is rated as the key feature of individual maturity and one of the personal potential manifestation forms, the fact that it is qualified Factor 1 by all the students may be assumed as positive.

The content of the Factors 2 and 3 is indicative of the differences in the personal potential components of the sporting students versus the non-sporting ones. The sporting students give a higher priority to self-management with career being rated second; while the non-sporting students tend to be more focused on the personal career.

Conclusions. Personal potential may be viewed as an integrated measure of the personal maturity level.

The sporting students’ sample, as compared to the non-sporting one, shows statistically significantly higher personal potential components related to self-management and self-determination in the vocational activity. Active sporting practices were found to activate an individual focus on the present, with the sporting students showing higher agreement and satisfaction with their lives.

The non-sporting students’ sample showed statistically significant peak in the focus on creating something new, including business. It should be noted that the shortage of senses in the current activity activates their focus on freedom, particularly the freedom from...

The factor analysis showed certain differences in profiles of the personal potential components, as follow:

  • The non-sporting students were found to give the highest priority to self-determination with a focus on career making, that may include self-management component;
  • The sporting students were tested with high self-determination rates associated with high self-management component focused on career.

The above profiles are indicative of the significant differences in the vocational and individual establishment paths that are determined, among other things, by engagement in sports. Analysis of the personal potential viewed as an integrated measure of the personal maturity level is highly topical for the present educational situation for the reason that a mature graduate personality is ranked among the top priorities of the national education system. The findings indicative of the sporting activity being of influence on the personal potential formation process may be beneficial for the initiatives focused on the relevant aspects of the specialist education process.


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The article explores the effects of university sports on a personal potential. For the personal potential profiling purposes, the following survey methods were used: “Self-Organization of Activity” (SOA) questionnaire; “Differential Test of Reflection”; “Personal Self-determination” test scale; “Satisfaction With Life Scale"; and “Career Anchors” questionnaire. Differences in the personal potential component rating data of the sporting students versus the non-sporting ones were found statistically significant. A factor analysis was used to profile the content of the personal potential components depending on the intensity of athletic activities. The study data were found indicative of the differences in the attitudes to the vocational career and personality development paths determined by the university sporting activity.