Motivation Monday: How to motivate an athlete…

Studies show us that motivation is linked to a number of conditions being present such as competency, tangible results, personal influence, value or personal interest and social approval, so if you want your athlete motivated, help them to:

  • Feel competent and able to complete the task
    As a coach, are we there when they need us and do we step back at the right time for the athlete to go “I did it!” Are we equipping our athletes with the knowledge and skills to have the confidence to try?
  • See a correlation between their actions and the outcome
    Where is the end goal? It’s easy to have an end goal but forget to share this with athletes, or realised that they’re mature enough to see and understand an end goal. Also important here sometimes is for individuals to see others whose actions are different are getting the outcome they want, though this is not always motivating…
  • Influence some control over how they complete the task
    With the point above, some influence on the goal as well as how and when they want to achieve it could be all the motivation an athlete needs.
  • See how the task has value or interest to the student
    What they want to achieve – as a gymnastics coach how many times do you get a kid turn up to their first session demanding when they’ll be doing ‘flips’? Do they know all the steps to getting to that point and what the pre-requisites are? That in itself is a big motivator for progress!
  • Feel the social approval the task brings
    A team and encouraging environment can do wonders to an athletes attitude in training. Rewarding effort and progress is a socially positive experience.

So here are some small tweaks in how we as coaches can help boost our gymnasts’ motivation based on educational research. Read more about Gymnastic-specific motivation on this brilliant blog that gives you the nitty-gritty details or tap into an article on Forbes by James Marshall Crotty about how Motivation Matters in education.


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