Volitional qualities as individual success factor in team sports


PhD, Associate Professor G.R. Shagivaleeva1
PhD, Associate Professor О.М. Shterts11
PhD, Associate Professor G.K. Biserova1
Yelabuga Institute of Kazan Federal University, Yelabuga

Keywords: willpower, volitional qualities, athletes, sport activity, success, ice hockey players.

Background. Presently the sport psychology makes a special emphasis on the athlete’s volitional qualities [1, 2, 4, 5] as demonstrated by analyses of the research literature on the subject, with the modern sports often referred to as ‘school for emotions’, ‘character forming school’, ‘willpower building school’ etc. [4]. Sport psychologists classify and rank the volitional qualities required to face difficulties and make success in sport careers including purposefulness, insistence, determination, resolution, courage, initiative, self-reliance, stress-tolerance and self-control.

A.L. Popov, for instance, believes that it is the conscientious choice of a provisionally more challenging albeit more efficient ways to success in the training and competitive process that may be considered the key willpower building factor [5]. Having analyzed the willpower development process in adolescents, G.D. Babushkin came to conclusion that the process is driven by a few key volitional qualities including insistence and purposefulness [2]. The elder are the adolescents the higher are their volitional qualities in association with the growing self-control abilities, and the development process may be efficiently facilitated by coaches who must help direct and manage the individual progress. N.I. Ismailova mentions in her study that the children going in for modern team sports generally develop good self-control, discipline, purposefulness and high mental/ emotional balancing qualities that altogether help improve stress tolerance and thereby contribute to their athletic progress and competitive accomplishments [3].

Objective of the study was to obtain and analyze individual volitional test rates versus achievement motivations in team sports.

Methods and structure of the study. Subject to the study was a sample of junior (10-17 year-old) players (n=60) form Serebryanye Volki [Silver Wolves] Ice Hockey Club of the Children’s and Youth Sport School #1 in Yelabuga town, Republic of Tatarstan. The sample was evenly split into the following two age groups. Group 1 (n=30) was composed of the 10-11 year-old winners and runner-ups of the Tatarstan Republican Cup and some other top-ranking regional events. Group 2 (n=30) was composed of the 15-17 year-old qualifiers for the Tatarstan Republican Cup, runner-ups of the National Tournament ‘Zolotaya Shaiba’ [Golden Puck] and winners of some other popular events.

The following methods were applied for the purposes of the study: commonly accepted theoretical research methods; analyses of available study reports on the subject; special psychological data mining methods; empirical test methods including N.Y. Stambulova’s Individual Volitional Qualities Test and Y.M. Orlova’s Success Motivation Questionnaire Survey; plus standard statistical data processing methods.

Study results and discussion. Based on the tests of purposefulness as one of the most important volitional qualities, the sample was rated as follows: 57%, 36% and 7% were tested with high, moderate and low purposefulness rates, respectively. Courage rating tests demonstrated this volitional quality being virtually the same in both age groups. Furthermore, the senior Group 2 showed higher insistence/ determination, with 38% of Group 1 and 58% of Group 2 tested with high insistence rate; and 56% of Group 1 and 35% of Group 2 tested with moderate insistence rate. Senior Group 2 was tested with higher self-reliance with 35% rated high and only 7% low; versus Group 1 which was rated 12% high and 19% low on the self-reliance scale. In the self-control rating tests, 19% of Group 1 and 7% of Group 2 were rated low; and 37% of Group 1 and 43% of Group 2 were rated high – that means that self-control tends to grow with age in the adolescent period.

We made a comparative analysis of the data arrays using the Student t-criterion to find possible intergroup correlations; and found significant correlations of the following volitional qualities (save for courage): purposefulness (t=3.8, p≤0.001); insistence (t=2.8, p≤0.001); self-reliance (t=3.95, p≤0.001); and self-control (t=3.1, p≤0.001). The analytical data gives the reasons to conclude that the senior Group 2 is more purposeful, determined and self-reliant in the decision-making process than the junior Group 1 that may be due to the age specifics of the junior and senior adolescents. In addition, we found statistically significant differences in the success motivations in both of the groups (t=4.81, p≤0.001), with the senior Group 2 found more motivated than the junior Group 1. This finding shows the need for the age groups to be sampled and rated separately.

For the purposes of the study we applied the Pearson's linear correlation analysis to rate the volitional qualities and success motivations in the sample and found statistically significant correlations of the following rates: purposefulness with success motivation (r=0.372, p≤0.05); courage with success motivation (r=0.329, p≤0.05); and insistence with success motivation (r=0.427, p≤0.05). This finding shows that the adolescent ice hockey players may be highly successful in competitions if they are highly purposeful, determined and courageous.

The correlation analysis, however, found insignificant correlation of the self-control with success motivation in the sample (r=0.061), with this finding explainable by the fact that adolescents are exposed to the natural emotional imbalances due to the hormonal transformations and, hence, their self-control qualities are still underdeveloped. This may mean that the contribution of this volitional quality to the competitive progress of adolescent ice hockey players is negligible.

Furthermore, for the purposes of the study we made a correlation analysis of the volitional qualities versus success motivations in the senior Group 2; and found significant positive correlations of insistence with success motivation (r=0.561, p≤0.001); and self-control with success motivation (r=0.553, p≤0.001). This finding shows that high insistence, determination, stress tolerance, patience and self-control are indispensable for competitive success in youth ice hockey as these qualities help cope with challenges and failures in the game.

We also found a correlation trend between purposefulness and success motivation in the senior Group 2 (r=0.371, p≤0.05) that means that the more specific and clear is the goal-setting in the competitive process for each player the higher is the individual success motivation. It should be noted, however, that it is the coach’s responsibility to clearly set goals and missions prior to the match and duly motivate the players for success. This means that purposefulness may not be considered as the internal volitional quality only since it is largely influenced by the external contributor(s) to the competitive success.

The correlation analysis generally showed that a competitive success in the youth ice hockey competitions is largely determined by insistence, determination and self-control in the goal attaining process. The study found some age-specific variations in the volitional qualities and success motivations of the junior players, with the junior age group being still in the willpower building process. It means that a special emphasis in the training process shall be made on patience, self-control, discipline and determination building aspects and tools. The study found the senior adolescents showing better volitional qualities and higher success motivations than the junior ones. In addition, the study data were indicative of the deficiencies in some volitional qualities (self-control, patience) being offset by courage, determination and insistence in this age period.

Conclusion. Competitive success is achieved by due motivations with high determination, purposefulness, courage and insistence and other important volitional qualities contributing to accomplishments in team sports.


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  4. Lubysheva L.I. Sotsiologiya fizicheskoy kultury i sporta [Sociology of physical culture and sports]. Moscow: Akademiya publ., 2010.
  5. Popov A.L. Psikhologiya [Psychology]. 2002. Moscow: Flinta: Nauka publ., 2002.

Corresponding author: guzel-shagivalee@mail.ru


Subject to analysis in the study were the individual volitional qualities and achievement motivations in modern team sports. Sports are ranked increasingly high by the modern communities, and athletes are expected to demonstrate a variety of personal qualities for success including willpower, determination, initiative, self-reliance, stress-tolerance and self-control to face challenges and demonstrate success in their sport careers. The empirical data mined in the study showed the athletes tested with high willpower being generally highly motivated for achievements, demonstrating great competitive spirit and striving to win. Objective of the study was to analyze individual volitional test rates versus achievement motivations in team sports. Subject to the study were junior athletes (n=60) whose individual volitional qualities and achievement motivations were tested. The study found age-specific variations in the volitional qualities and achievement motivations; and a data correlation analysis under the study demonstrated the volitional qualities being ranked among the key success factors in modern team sports. Significance of the statistical differences in the data arrays was rated by the Student t-criterion; and the Pearson's linear correlation coefficient was applied for the data correlation analysis.