Goncalves et al. (2014) recently published a study in which young Portuguese athletes from a volleyball club, an elite volleyball center, and a soccer club reported on their will to excel and will to compete before and after the season. The results showed that soccer club athletes were the only group to experience an increase in their will to excel over the 6-month period, and all three groups experienced a decline in their will to compete with the elite volleyball players showing the greatest decline in both will to excel and will to compete. The researchers concluded that the primary influencing factor is the potential to become a professional athlete in the sport, as the soccer players in Portugal have a better opportunity to have a lucrative professional career than the volleyball players.
Overall, this study presented valuable findings about the competitive nature of Portuguese athletes at different levels and at different stages of competition. However, before concluding that the opportunity (or lack of) to become a well-known professional in the sport had the greatest influence on the athletes' will to compete and to excel, the athletes' emotions also should have been considered. Enjoyment is a discrete emotion related to achievement; it is a positive activating emotion and therefore is believed to positively predict achievement in athletics and other areas (Daniels et al., 2009; Puente-Diaz, 2012). The elite volleyball players practiced an average of 19 hours per week, approximately 3 times more hours than the club athletes. The volleyball players also lived at the center where they practiced. Enjoyment does have a positive effect on sport satisfaction, effort, and performance, as Punte-Diaz demonstrated in a study looking at the effects that these factors had on each other in regards to adolescent tennis players (Puente-Diaz, 2012). It has also been found to be a predictor of achievement in academics due to (Daniels et al., 2009). The amount and intensity of training that the elite athletes experienced at the center as well as an extreme amount of time spent around the sport, coaches, and teammates could have easily burned the athletes out, making the sport less enjoyable and causing a drop in the will to excel and to compete (Brenner, 2007).
Considering the amount of time and money that is spent on developing athletes in the United States (U.S.), it would be valuable to determine the factors that cause athletes to want...