The art of coaching is bringing a player to a point that he could not have gotten to on his own. This is a popular quote that is in on bulletin boards across the country. At the heart of this quote is that a coach must inspire their athletes to grow. While there is no one universal way to accomplish this, there are a few principles that hold true when you are looking to motivate an athlete over the course of a season.
Creating the Motivated Athlete
The most critical component is showing the athlete you care about them. Our natural instincts are to respond more directly when we know a person cares about us and is invested in our success. This has roots in the evolutionary biology where early man had to struggle together for survival. If your student athletes know that you care about them, and are invested in them being successful, they are much more open and receptive to your coaching.
The next principle that creates a motivated athlete is a goal. One of the best ways to do this is by sharing an image of where you envision the athlete or team being. Many athletes lack the confidence to actually see themselves achieve their dreams. As a coach it’s critical that you not only tell them you believe that they can accomplish it, but to allow them to see themselves having that success.
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Once the athlete can see the vision of what they want to accomplish you are in a position to show them the path to get there. This normally involves the correcting of behaviors or the development of skills. This can, and should, be done in a variety of different ways, but it’s important to always keep the vision in the athletes mind. Let them know that you are holding them accountable for their dream and your vision of how special they can be. When this is done consistently, the behaviors begin to become ingrained. At this stage it’s critical to raise the level of expectation and explaining why you are doing so to the athlete.
There is no magical formula for motivating athletes. Each athlete is different and has different motivations. What is universal is that you must show your athletes that you care about them, believe they can succeed and are hold them to standards that will allow them to achieve their dreams.