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Athletes' Blind Ambition

Presents a research regarding the connection between athletes' vision and motivation. Comparison of those players who intrinsically played the game and those who played for the trophy or personal goal; How the coaches can encourage their teams.

If your eyes are on the prize, they may not be on the ball, according to newresearch on the connection between athletes' vision and motivation. Kathy Sexton-Radek, Ph.D., of Elmhurst College in Illinois, administered a battery of vision tests to 41 members of NCM Division I college sports teams. She also queried the athletes, who competed in golf, basketball, softball, tennis, or track and field, about their reasons for playing their sport.

Those who were "intrinsically motivated"--who played in order to understand the game, develop their skills, or accomplish a personal goal--could actually see better than those who played with a trophy or a championship in mind. Their vision was sharper and their reaction times quicker, she says, because the concentration crucial to acute vision is more available to those deeply immersed in an activity. "Intrinsically-motivated athletes are self-starters," says Sexton-Raciek. "They draw on the energy generated by their own goals and aspirations." Coaches can encourage their teams to adopt such an attitude, she adds, by "offering them choices--helping them to become aware of what is valuable to them about the game, and then to use that as a motivator."

PHOTO (COLOR): Athletes who play for the love of the game can actually see better than those who do It for the dory, say psychologists at Elmhurst College.