Motivation and Coaching – A Misunderstood Coaching Fundamental Part 2

How do you help athletes find their Motivation?

Following on from Part 1 we continue with the different types of motivation or as I would call them inspiration methods as mentioned in Part 1 to help your athletes.

The first is a known theory and widely tested approach to motivation in sport and other achievement is the theory of self-determination. The theory is based on a number of motives or regulations, which vary in terms of the degree of self-determination they reflect.

Self-determination has to do with the degree to which your behaviours are chosen and self-initiated. The behavioural adjustment can be placed on a self-determination continuum Identified and  represent self-determined types of extrinsic motivation because behaviour is initiated out of choice, although it is not necessarily perceived to be enjoyable.


Fig. 1 Courtney E. Ackerman, MA -Positive Psychology

The next method is the extrinsic model of motivation aligns favourably with the “carrot and stick” approach school of motivation. Offering a player reward or enforcing their compliance with the threat of negative consequences is a little old school in terms of motivating your sport’s team in the 21st Century.

Another way of looking at Extrinsic motivation is when we are motivated to perform in an activity because we want to earn a reward and avoid punishment i.e. winning a championship or avoid relegation.

Fig. 2 Verywell / Joshua Seong

The final method is Intrinsic motivation is the internal desire by a player to improve, achieve and succeed. It is your job as a coach to be able to encourage that desire within a player, challenging them to become the best every single day. Coaches should use this to inspire players and is considered the healthiest type of motivation and reflects an athlete’s motivation to perform an activity simply for the reward inherent in their participation. i.e. learning a new skill or make new friendships etc..

Intrinsic motivation comes from within, is fully self-determined and characterised by interest in, and enjoyment derived such as sports participation.

Some athletes devote hundreds of hours to repeating mundane drills; they realise that such activity will ultimately help them to improve and when a behaviour becomes integrated it is in harmony with one’s sense of self and almost entirely self-determined.

For example, completing daily stretching exercises because you realise, they are part of an overall goal to enhance performance and be integrated within ones training regime.

What Coaches should do to help the players?

Simply: do nothing.

Just watch listen and observe.

Motivated athletes stand out like a light.


  1. The Player who arrives early to help set up the training environment.
  2. The player who stays behind to help clean up the gym or volunteers at the clubhouse
  3. The Rugby Player at the end of a hard training asks the coach to stay and do kicking practice.

Motivation will, given the opportunity, express itself…. if you allow them to.

Every coach needs to get to know his / her athletes, because Motivation comes from within the key to better understanding what motivates your athletes is to get to know them.


Motivation of athletes is like digging for gold: it can be difficult to find but if you persevere and persist until you find it, the rewards are immeasurable.

Coaches cannot motivate athletes: rather coaches must seek to provide the environment and opportunity for athletes to discover what it is that motivates them as individuals.

However, if coaches understand their athletes and what it is that motivates their athletes, Anything is possible.

Finally, Always strive to be original and innovative in applying motivational techniques.


Motivation and Coaching – A Misunderstood Coaching fundamental Part 1

Every coach i have ever met in one form or another talks about Motivation; however it seems to me is a misunderstood subject. some read about it or go to courses or do workshops and try to learn in a bid to help their athletes achieve their goals.

Some clubs bring in motivational speakers to try and motivate their athletes through team talk or an explosive, emotional pre-performance presentation or simple they go finding that magic bullet.

No one can motivate anyone to do anything it comes down to sports coaches to understand Motivation and Coaching.

Motivation is the foundation of all athletic effort and accomplishment, without your desire and determination to improve your sports performances, all the other mental factors, confidence, intensity, focus, and emotions, are meaningless.

1. Understanding Motivation

Motivation is desire. It is what fuels great performances, outstanding victories, persistence, perseverance, determination and drive.

Simply defined, is the ability to initiate and persist at a task. Which is why some athletes have a winning “attitude”. It is the rationale behind “mental-toughness”.

It is the strength and the character that allows athletes to overcome adversity, setbacks, disappointments, injuries, and non-selections.

The reason motivation is so important is that it is the only contributor to sports performance over which players have control. There are three things that affect how well they perform.

  1. Their ability, which includes physical, technical, tactical, and mental capabilities. Because ability is something players are born with, Coaches cannot change ability, so it is outside of your control.
  2. The difficulty of the competition influences performance. Contributors to difficulty include the ability of the opponent and external factors such as an “away game” crowd and weather such as temperature, wind, and snow, You have no control over these factors.
  3. Motivation will impact performance. It is also the only factor over which players not coaches have control. Motivation will directly impact the level of success that they ultimately achieve. If they are highly motivated to improve their performances, then you will put in the time and effort necessary. It will be the athlete who works the hardest, who doesn’t give up, and who performs his or her best when it counts.

It is the seemingly endless energy driving athletes to complete even the toughest, most challenging, and most exhausting workouts. Motivation is the cornerstone of success for every great athlete and every great athletic achievement. Unfortunately coaches constantly seek the breakthrough technique to motivate their athletes, Motivation is not your job. Which brings me to my next point

2. Motivation and Inspiration: There is a difference.

What most people think is motivation, i.e., the motivational speaker talking about money, power, success, and glory is actually inspiration. The two can work together, i.e., you can be inspired to change your behaviours to help you realise a dream, but there is a difference. Inspiration is something that comes the outside: from listening to another person or being involved in an event or through observing something which triggers an emotional response

This could be something like In-training and competitions, you arrive at a point at which it is no longer fun. The daily Grind, which starts when it gets tiring, painful, and tedious. This is the point at which it really counts. This is what separates successful athletes from those who don’t achieve their goals. Many athletes when they reach this point either ease up or give up because it’s just too hard. Truly motivated athletes reach this point and keep on going.

Sports Psychologists will say that players have to love the daily Routine. This is the exception for few hyper-motivated athletes, love is not in the cards because there’s not much to love. The key here is how you respond to the Routine that lies along a continuum. As I just mentioned, loving the Routine is rare. At the other end of the continuum is “I hate the Routine.” If you feel this way, you are not likely to stay motivated.

There are several tell-tell signs of low motivation:

  1. A lack of desire to practice a less than 100 percent effort in training.
  2. Skipping or shortening training.
  3. Effort that is inconsistent with goals.

I suggest that you neither love nor hate the Routine; you just accept it as part of the deal in striving toward your goals.

Focus ultimately on your long term goals this is to generate feelings of inspiration and pride that you will experience when you reach your goals. This technique will distract you from the discomfort of the Routine, focus you on what you want to achieve, and generate positive thoughts and emotions that will get you through the Routine.

Inspiration is something that comes the outside: from listening to another person or being involved something which triggers an emotional response.

Motivation, however, comes from within. Motivation is the fire in the belly: a fire which is ignited by a dream and fuelled by passion. The Routine may not be very enjoyable, but what does feel good is seeing your hard work pay off with success.

3. What is the coach’s role?

Simply, the coach’s role is to create the environment and to provide the opportunity for the athlete to express their motivation in all that they do.

It is the coach’s role to support the athlete and encourage in preparation and performance, to inspire and help athletes discover their own motivation: to find their “fire”. and make sure they feel confident and to feel empowered. i.e. The goal setting process works best when there is some flexibility from the coaches and the individual athlete or team take ownership of each goal also any goal setting should be realistic.

Motivation is an ally for coaches and an important aspect of successful coaching. Coaches need to generate feelings of inspiration and pride that players will experience when they reach their goals.

To be continued….


Coaching Essentials(inspiring change) – Wayne Goldsmith

Motivation in Sports Psychology – Sports Performance Bulleting

Psychology Today – Jim Taylor PH.D


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