How can the effects of significant others influence the performance of a sports performer both elite and beginners? Socialisation is the process by which we learn the norms and values of our society. During infancy the parents who are considered the primary agents of socialisation mainly determine this. As children grow older they meet many other influences involved with their hobbies, school and sport involvement. These can be coaches, teachers and managers who are considered secondary agents of socialisation.
Bandura (1977) proposed from his research that that we learn by observing others and modelling their behaviour, which is called observational learning. The people that we are most likely to model are known as significant others. These are people who are similar to us, who are nurturing or powerful and those who are seen to be rewarded for their behaviour. A significant other is likely to be a sports hero but not just for what he/she does in a sporting situation.
According to Butt (1987) ‘The athlete contributes more to the audience than an enactment of competition. He also contributes his way of life. Whatever the admired athlete does, the crowd, particularly the young, tend to emulate. ‘ By stating this, it is clear that significant others can have a dramatic effect on every aspect of a players game whether young, old, beginner or elite performer. This effect can be both negative or positive depending on the actions of the admired performer.
If the significant other gives a good performance with a high work rate, it is more likely that a child/beginner will imitate this and be determined for him/herself to put in more effort in his/her performance. This will be increased even more so if the performer being watched is seen to be rewarded for his performance. In contrast to this, players being modelled by others can have highly disruptive effects on the receiver’s performance. Players that show undesirable aspects of the game such as violence, bad sportsmanship or a lazy attitude e.
g. fighting can create an image for the recipient that that kind of behaviour is acceptable. For elite athletes there are many significant others which can effect their performance. When playing at a high level crowds can have good and bad influences on a performer. If the crowd has a good atmosphere and gets behind the team then performers can be motivated by this and raise their playing standards. However, if members of the crowd direct abuse at the athletes they may become more involved with the crowd rather than the game.