Motivation and its impact on the performance of Special Olympic athletes during the 1.5-mile run

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Milne, Darren G.
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This research was designed to examine two problems: (a) how the presence of extrinsic motivation affected the performance of two groups of Special Olympic Track athletes on a test of cardiovascular endurance, and (b) assess the athletes' motivational orientation and perceived motivation, and compare these outcomes to their performance on two protocols of the 1.5-mile run. Both of these problems were addressed by using two groups of Track and Field athletes (entitled Medallion and Track) from Manitoba Special Olympics (MSO). Athletes were required to perform two 1.5-mile runs, one with verbal motivation from the coaches and one without. In addition, the athletes training programs were examined to determine if there were any real differences. For this research, Motivational Orientation was determined using the Perceived Competence Scale for Children (Harter, 1982). The Manipulation Check of Perceived Motivation was created to determine the athletes' perceived motivation before and after each 1.5-mile run. Theresults from this research demonstrated that: (a) athletes' performances improved with the presence of extrinsic motivation, (b) there was little difference between the athletes' training programs, (c) motivational orientation did not affect performance, and (d) neither group perceived the effect of motivation any differently than the other. Among others, one conclusion from the research is that extrinsic motivation is needed for a maximal performance, although some athletes do have intrinsic qualities. Previous researchers generally have not illustrated the intrinsic qualities found in athletes with a mental disability.