Motivating your athletes

Peter Farrell (Tennis Ireland Coach Development)
Peter Farrell (Tennis Ireland Coach Development)
It`s very simple. Given the multitude of activities people have to choose from in the modern world, they will only show up for your training session if they are motivated to do so.

Motivation is “the driving force that directs actions towards the achievement of a certain goal”. Some athletes are highly self motivated and will always be there come hail, rain or snow. But what can you do to help motivate those who might be wavering a little? Here are my ten keys to motivation.

1. SUCCESS.
Each individual should feel that he or she has been successful at some point in the session. Not necessarily the best, the quickest, the winner – but maybe the one who was first to training, or remembered to bring a piece of equipment they were asked to provide.

2. GOAL SETTING.
Athletes need to have a clear idea of what they are expected to achieve. Goals need to be individualised. They can be tricky to set, because people are not motivated by goals which they perceive to be either too easy or too difficult.

3. RECOGNITION.
Having achieved their goals in a session, some athletes will feel cheated if this fact is not publicly recognised by the coach and therefore the group.

4. `NOVELTY VALUE`.
Drills and exercises must be regularly modified, developed and replaced in order to keep interest levels high. Nobody enjoys taking part in exactly the same activities week after week.

5. ATTENTION.
Some coaches tend to spend most of their time with the stronger athletes in a group, because they find it frustrating to work with weaker athletes. Other coaches might put most effort into the weaker athletes, thinking that the stronger ones can get on with it themselves. Divide your time equally, or the group you neglect will lose the drive to learn.

6. MOVEMENT.
Most sports involve movement, and our lessons should reflect this fact. Long discussions – or periods of inactivity while waiting in line – will impact negatively on motivation levels.

7. `POSITIVITY`.
Rather than a comment such as “no, that’s not the way to do it”, try “that was a great effort, now heres how you could improve it a little more”…

8. GROUPING.
It will generally be difficult to motivate a younger child in a group of older children, or an older child in a group of younger children. Likewise for a weaker athlete in a group of stronger athletes, or a stronger athlete in a group of weaker athletes.

9. FUN.
No matter how hard the players work during a session, they need to enjoy themselves too.

10. IMPROVEMENT.
Perhaps the best motivation of all is when athletes can see and feel that they are constantly improving.

Article written by Peter Farrell, Coach Development Officer, Tennis Ireland

2 thoughts on “Motivating your athletes

  1. Good tips. I played sports in high school and have seen the lack of motivation in many players. I didn’t have a problem with motivation because of my competitive nature but one thing I’ve found that helped motivate some of the other players is giving them a sense of importance on the team. When players feel like they matter whether or not the team wins, they tend to work harder. That and being very supportive works well.

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