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Exploring sport coaching and psychology
Exploring sport coaching and psychology

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2 Your beliefs about sporting ability

You will start this course by considering your own beliefs about the nature of sporting ability.

Activity 1 Your beliefs about sporting ability

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Answer the following two questions about nature and nurture in the sport you are most interested in and in sport as a whole. The questions use a 5-point scale, where 1 corresponds to ‘strongly nature’, while 5 corresponds to ‘strongly nurture’. By responding to these questions, you can begin to understand your own beliefs about sporting ability.

For each question, choose between the following options:

  1. Strongly nature
  2. Slightly more nature than nurture
  3. A 50:50 equal mix of both
  4. Slightly more nurture than nature
  5. Strongly nurture

Type in the relevant number from the scale after the question.

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Your response about the sport that you are most interested in is likely to depend very much on the sport itself. For instance, if we asked a group of competitive anglers this question, we might expect the average response to be towards the nurture end of the scale. This is because angling is a heavily skill-based sport in which the interpretation of varied environments is required and physical attributes (e.g. being tall or short) have limited influence. Therefore learning and picking up tips from others is crucial – in other words, their skill has been ‘nurtured’. However, consider the sprinting events in athletics, which require distinctive physical characteristics such as fast limb movement, explosive power and perhaps a certain stature. A group of sprint coach’s average response might be further towards the ‘nature’ end of the scale than the anglers.

There is a second important factor: attributional effects. People who do their sport well tend to attribute success to hard work (i.e. they are responsible); people who are not as competent tend to attribute success to luck (e.g. genetics, parents, school).

The way that you answer the second question is fascinating, since you could say ‘it depends on the sporting interests of those responding’, but it is also likely that deeply held beliefs and values will influence the way you answer. By the end of this course, you may well have challenged some of your beliefs about sport. Soon, we will introduce a new way of collecting peoples’ responses to these questions online so if you return you can see how others have responded to this question.

The next section investigates a more complex range of possibilities for explaining sporting success.