Six Tactics to Motivate Athletes

Tactics to Motivate Athletes 

What makes a player tick?  As a head coach, that is the main question that needs answering.  In 2020, Ohio University (2020) compiled the six best tips and tricks for coaches to use to motivate their players. While this article is mainly geared towards a younger demographic of players, I believe it most certainly applies to any and every level of competition! This blog will give a brief rundown of each tip and don’t worry, the original article will be linked below.  

Acknowledging the Importance of Motivation 

Have an open dialogue with your players! They do not always know what you’re thinking.

First and foremost, and as stated previously, the motivation of players should be a coach’s top priority.  Communicating the significance of motivation is something that makes the process a whole lot easier.  The article discusses that while conditioning and training undoubtedly make children better athletes, it’s motivation that is the key to success.  Why is this?  Without motivation, individuals will tend to exert less than optimal effort into these various processes (Ex. Conditioning, practices, etc.). Giving positive feedback and encouraging continual growth amongst players, even if that means rewarding small steps along the way, will be extremely beneficial in the future.             

Knowing Each Athlete’s Unique Motivators

When it comes to motivation, one size does not fit all. As stated in previous blogs, every athlete is different.  What works for one player, may not work for another, and that is perfectly okay!  As a result, being able to learn as much as possible about a specific player will help keep the individual both focused and moving in the right direction.  As a coach, you’ll have to invest some effort to diversify your tactics. Once you’re able to decipher what motivates each athlete, you can use that information to develop your own motivational strategies!  For example, one player might like being praised in front of the group, while it could make another player feel uncomfortable. It is helpful to watch for reactions and to try and gauge your own actions based on both verbal and non-verbal feedback.   

Explaining the “Why”

It’s imperative to explain “why” the things that you preach are important!

Sometimes, in order to get players to succeed, coaches need to sell them on the “why.”  I think all football players can agree that some drills can get extremely repetitive.  From a coaches’ perspective, it is imperative to realize that not all athletes may understand the significance of practice. Without an explanation or understanding of why or how a drill will help achieve success, it is common that this repetitiveness will cause a significant decrease in motivation.  Once an athlete is granted the overarching vision and sees the results of their actions, they are often motivated to listen to instructions more and work harder during practice.  It’s difficult to sprint when the distance is unknown. Thus, showing how important it is to explain the “why?”.       

Encouraging Teamwork

Teamwork makes the dream work! After all, there is no “I” in Team!

When it comes to the priorities of successful teams, team chemistry is on the top of the list.  The encouragement of building and creating relationships amongst teammates has countless benefits. Namely, the realization of the connection can encourage the exertion of extra effort for the betterment of the team/ one’s teammates.  As stated in previous blogs, football is a selfless game- there is no “I” in Team; the sooner that your players become selfless, the sooner a cohesive and successful unit can be built. On top of this, teamwork is a cornerstone to success in one’s everyday life. Nobody, no matter how strong they may be, can survive or thrive on their own!         

Commending Success No Matter the Size 

Out of the six tips to motivate players, I believe this is the most significant.  Commend the success of your players no matter how big or small their success might be.  Celebrating successes shouldn’t just happen during a game or competition. More specifically, if players finish a tough drill, or stick out an activity longer than they ever have, use those opportunities to acknowledge the athlete and commend them for their hard work.  Further, when losses start to weigh down on players, it becomes exponentially more significant to be keen on their improvements and to be a source of light.  On top of this, it is more important than ever to start this encouragement from a young age. These young individuals may not be able to recognize their own accomplishments just yet, so a small boost might be necessary.     

Setting Achievable Goals 

Setting achievable goals lays a blueprint for the success of your squad!

Last but certainly not least, setting achievable goals can build tremendous momentum towards maxing out motivation. Setting goals geared towards improvement in certain aspects of a sport can be more effective than setting statistical or win-based goals for a team. More specifically, setting goals that are practice-related, for example, attendance, drill performance, or even the motivation of teammates are three seemingly easily-achievable goals.  I believe it’s important to set a ground work of easily-achievable goals before setting your sights on more difficult ones. This is because achieving a bunch of smaller goals will certainly serve as a humungous confiedence booster. With appropriate motivation and practice, you can coach young athletes to overcome obstacles while reaching their goals.

In Conclusion… 

In conclusion, in 2020, the University of Ohio’s master’s program compiled the six best tips and tricks to motivate players (2020).  The six tips were: acknowledge the importance of motivation, discover each athlete’s unique motivators, explain the “Why”, encourage teamwork, commend success no matter the size, and finally, set achievable goals. In team sports, it’s important to motivate athletes on the individual level as well as the team level. Please find the link to the original article below!

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