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Measuring Motivation

When it comes to recruiting top football players, some of the hardest things to measure are player motivation and leadership potential. Before coaches give scholarships to athletes, they want to know who will give 100 percent effort toward getting better during the off-season, who will play hard from whistle to whistle during practice, and who will go beyond expectations to lead his team to a game winning performance. At MVR, we are interested in quantifying hard-to-measure player characteristics like intelligence, motivation, and leadership, which ultimately lead to winning championships. We have already linked player intelligence to scoring points. Here we are focused on player motivation, leadership potential, and athletic performance. Two studies are discussed.

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Player Intelligence

One of the most important numbers in a college football game is the number of points scored. If your team scores more points than your opponent during a game, then you win. If your team scores fewer points than your opponent, then you lose. It’s that simple! What is difficult to determine is how your offensive system will score points against your opponent’s defensive system, and vice versa. Special teams are also important systems in this equation for putting points on the board. Although offensive, defensive, and special teams play critical roles in determining how points are scored, it is the players operating within a particular system who actually execute the plays and score the points in the game.

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Failure of the Wonderlic

The Wonderlic Personnel Test is a well-established measure of intelligence that has been shown to predict performance in a variety of traditional jobs. It tests a person’s understanding of, among other things, analogies, arithmetic, directions, disarranged sentences, logic, geometric figures, and word definitions. Primarily it is a verbal-linguistic measure involving words, letters, numbers, and symbols. One of the best known users of the Wonderlic is the National Football League (NFL). In the 1970s the NFL started to use the Wonderlic as an official part of its player evaluation system. During the league’s scouting combine potential rookies are given the 50-item, multiple-choice exam. The score is the number of correct answers a player can get in 12 minutes. An average score for all people (and about the average for all football players) is 20.

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