Ian Lynagh developed a four-stage model of achievement that we can apply to everyday life. His model suggests that personal characteristics such as a positive attitude, persistence and the ability to tolerate frustration are all important in reaching goals and achieving success. The four elements of Lynaugh’s model are:

Personal – these are factors in an individual’s personality that promote high performance.

Motivational – the drive to succeed; development and maintenance of this drive.

Mental Skills – the acquisition of psychological skills to complement and support motor and technical skills.

Performance – psychological processes and strategies allowing peak performance under competitive pressure.

Personal factors

These include our values and beliefs about ourselves and achievement.

Successful people in any field need a positive mental attitude towards themselves and the arena in which they perform, whether this is sports, business or some other field.

Top performers in any field take personal responsibility for themselves. Self-motivation and self-discipline are important.

Taking 100% responsibility for own experiences gives us a great sense of control and allows us to determine our own outcomes.

You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself.

Jim Rohn

Personal control is also important and has mental, emotional and behavioural aspects. This can range for the young athlete who turns up to training every night, missing out on parties and
social occasions with friends, to the experienced sportsperson who focuses 100% on her performance for the time that she is on the pitch, even though her father is seriously ill.

Successful individuals are also able to tolerate frustration. They demonstrate patience and persistence, and setbacks only drive them to strive harder.

Motivational Factors

According to Lynagh, top performers have a clear, unshakeable sense of underlying purpose that gives meaning to everything they do.

  • Vision and clearly defined, graduated, step-by-step goals also mark out successful competitors.
  • Desire is an important factor in success – top athletes have an emotional commitment to their sport that energises and drives their behaviour. The same is true of those who are successful in every other field too.

Mature athletes will have thought through their motivation – why they play sport. For some it will be coincidental – they went to a school that played a lot of cricket and they
get into the cricket team and were encouraged. It started out being opportunistic, but they stick at it and developed purpose. Athletes play sport for many different reasons,
sometimes multiple reasons. It may be the challenge, the social side, the rewards and status, or that the saw it as a good career.

The most mature reason why people do sport is because of the challenge of wanting to establish control over a task – it becomes more of an intrinsic striving, an internal
challenge rather than the desire for status or other extrinsic things such as prestige and rewards, getting a medal.

Ian Lynagh

Mental Skills Factors

  • Top performers are able to control their level of arousal – how pumped up they get.
  • They are able to give 100% of their focus and concentration to a task when required.
  • They do not become distracted easily.
  • They use mental rehearsal as part of their preparation for a performance or event.
  • They have a strong physical sense of what they do (kinesiological awareness).
  • They monitor their behaviour and actions, and can evaluate them objectively.

Performance Factors

According to Lynagh, the following elements are important to effective performance:

  • The ability to establish routines that ensure mental, emotional and physical readiness.
  • The ability to stay focused on the task despite distractions and setbacks.
  • The ability to monitor physical and mental arousal and control it appropriately even in a high pressure, competitive situation.
  • The ability to learn from each performance and to assess it objectively, resetting training goals as required.