Get your head right to get your body right.

Psychological Influences of Optimal Performance

The influence of Psychology on Optimal Performance is still being debated through research today but there are some established theories about how these two areas are related and that an understanding of the psychological can lead to a better performance (Donaldson S., Dolwett M. & Rao. M, 2014).  There are 10 fundamental concepts which form the relationship between psychology and performance; positive view of future, sense of control, self-knowledge, activity, self-regulation, flexibility, wholeness, connection and happiness (Rottinghaus, P. 2014).  This blog aims to provide you with an understanding of some of these concepts and allow you to determine which ones contribute to your motivation and ultimately help you reach optimal performance.  

Psychology is a vital part of promoting health and well-being (Seligman M, & Csikszentmihalyi M, 2014) and is made up of many variables, however, here, we’ll focus on self-efficacy and motivation. Self-efficacy is our perceived ability to perform tasks and is essential for success in whatever we do (Bandura A, 2012).  Your 100% won’t always be the same each day.  Self-efficacy is related to our sense of control and impacts our positive view of the future and wholeness.  Low self-efficacy is commonly attributed to poor performance because we perceive a task to be hard which leads to us getting nervous or anxious due to a bad previous experience (Schwarzer R, 2014). Situational problems and individual problems we perceive are often influenced by different factors but motivation rises above the rest.  

The mindset of successSo, what motivates you to perform your job, your gym session, look after your children, your pets or even a household chore? This is what we should be focusing our attention on so that we are able to reach our desirable level of wholeness and see positively for our future, as life should be about the pursuit of happiness.

Motivation can vary depending on the task at hand or the day of the week but is split into two main categories, extrinsic & intrinsic (Reiss S, 2012). Extrinsic motivation is when you are influenced by the outcome or end result, achieving something and therefore reaching fulfilment (Reiss S, 2012).  This relates to completion of activity, feelings of wholeness, positivity and happiness which are all concepts listed above.  Intrinsic motivation is built from interest and inquisition (Reiss S, 2012) and is driven by persistence to better one’s view of the future, self-knowledge or self-value.

How do we target motivation so that individuals reach optimal performance? Research suggests that self-assessment tactics can lead to persistence, enhanced learning or engagement in new or additional activities (Boud D, 2013).  This leads us to suggest that we need to understand both what we are interested in and what we want to achieve before we can reach our optimal performance.

Situational problems and individual problems have been previously mentioned and are also important for us to distinguish.  It has been suggested that situational problems are negatively impacted by extrinsic motivational factors whereas extrinsic motivators had a positive impact on individual problems.  An example of this in the gym would be when you’re not achieving a goal.  Giving you a reward as a motivator is only over time going to be deflating if you’re unable to understand what it is limiting you in achieving your goal.  As opposed to an inquisitive approach which assesses why you’re not at your goal yet and then giving you the understanding to achieve your goal, which in turn becomes your reward!  

So, how do we summarise the influence of self-efficacy and motivation on optimal performance? What do we know? There is a relationship between self-efficacy and motivation and both of these can influence optimal performance positively and negatively.  It is important for us to understand what motivates us, what we believe we are capable of and acknowledge what we need to improve.  Some people are motivated by rewards or results, some are motivated by learning and education but neither is more beneficial it is dependent upon context (situational or personal).  


  1. Put a plan in place- In the gym, it’s simple, set your goals and understand what you need to do to achieve them.
  2. Talk to someone– might mean talking to a friend, another member or even one of the awesome team at RevoPT.  
  3. Be consistent and commit – Continue to work on what you do well but focus on what you don’t, improvement takes time and so does learning and achieving your long term goals.
  4. Trust the process – Be patient, understand your motivation and believe in yourself! These are all tangibles to achieving your optimal performance.

Good luck crushing your goals in 2017 and I hope this helps.

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