5 Keys to Motivating Your Athletes (Part I)
"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."
No doubt there are many ways to "motivate" and inspire others. In contrast, it may be argued that one person cannot motivate another, but only creates an environment that promotes one to motivate him/herself. In short, to motivate anyone can be difficult, dynamic, and frustrating. To be effective, motivating others takes insight (a plan) and patience (time).
There are generally three broad categories for which motivation strategies fall: fear, incentives, and/or purpose. Fear and incentives are often short-term "motivators", whereas providing purpose (or meaning) is more long-term.
1. Motivation Through Fear
First, instilling fear in others is simple (and it can quickly motivate some people) but over time, fear can easily breed resentment and disloyalty. The athlete who is motivated by fear is likely not so much trying to achieve something as they are trying to avoid something (e.g., losing a position or making a mistake). This athlete generally becomes focused on what not to do, rather than what to do. In time, this can become stressful and lead to a strong sense of resentment and/or disloyalty toward the one instilling the fear.
2. Motivation Through Incentives
Incentives too can be effective for the short-term. Dangling the "carrot" (e.g., playing time, money, trophies, etc.) is a strong motivator for many athletes but these extrinsic means generally last for only a short time before the "incentives" need increased or made more appealing. The less appealing the incentive, the less motivation one will generally show.
3. Motivation Through Purpose
Finally, developing a strong sense of purpose is most effective for promoting long-term motivation. Creating a sense of purpose and/or meaning is about changing the way athletes think about their roles, their reasons for coming to practice, their influence on teammates, their membership on the team, and their reasons for playing and competing. Providing purpose and meaning is about creating an environment that is conducive to personal growth and encouraging athletes to motivate themselves, as well as inspire their teammates. Developing purpose and meaning takes more time and energy (investment) but it can lead to that long-term motivation for which most coaches are striving.
5 Keys to Motivating Your Athletes
Below are five important considerations as you go about developing a plan for motivating your athletes, your team, and your support staff.
"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader."