Motivation is a key mental skill that I identified in the Wheel of Mental Performance. I already wrote about how to sustain your motivation as an athlete and in this post, I want to address how to keep athletes motivated (for coaches and parents).
If you want to improve your athlete’s motivation, you have to start to understand what motivates them (win, have fun, be part of a group, be fit, please parents, etc…) and what makes their motivation to drop (lose, have no or little fun, being excluded, stagnating, etc…).
There is no one size fits all strategy. As a coach or as a parent, specifically when being oneself a former athlete, it is hard to let go of one’s personal motivations and the desire to transmit that. It doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be part of the process but that there should be no attachment to it being necessarily the right and only way.
Tips to improve your kids motivation:
- Find what motivates demotivates your athlete. Find their individual Why and for team sports, provide the team’s WHY.
- Adapt to each athlete, keeping in mind their unique greatness: challenge the ones who need it, make smaller tasks for those who need to reinforce their feeling of being successful etc…
- Be inspiring (tell stories), show enthusiasm and walk your talk
- Adopt a Growth mindset (effort and possibility oriented, anyone can improve in anything through effort and determination) rather than a fixed mindset (results oriented, “you are good at this” or “you are weak at that”). If they identify as bad, they will be de motivated, if they identify as naturally good, they will be completely disturbed when they face bigger adversity with better opponents and at the next level (High school, College, higher league etc…) and this might demotivate them.
- Focus on the process (following a strategy, doing one’s best, etc…) rather than on the outcome of the games (win or lose) and celebrate small (and of course big) achievements.
- Be mindful of external rewards as they might make the athletes to play for these rewards and not for the fun and enjoyment of their sport
- For parents: it’s hard but try to be more of a cheerleader than a coach
So, how motivating will you be?