Motivating Your Athletes: Do's and Dont's
Motivation: the one variable in a high school athlete that can ultimately play a role in not only that athletes desire to participate, but their desire to win as well. Every athlete is different in terms of how they are motivated. Some are intrinsically-motivated by the spirit of competition, individual statistics, competing under the lights and in front of fans, etc. For the others, however, they need their coaching staff to give them that extra push to help get them in the right mindset.
When it comes to coaches motivating their athletes, there are a plethora of different techniques that can be used to get the players pumped up and focused. It's important to remember that these athletes are adolescents, and their experiences with coaches can ultimately impact their self-esteem and confidence. Sports psychologist Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter has noted some important things to take into consideration when trying to motivate young athletes:
- Do: Whether the team wins or loses, show your players unconditional acceptance.
- Don't: Overreact to a player making a mistake or the team not performing as expected.
- Do: Set standards of achievement within the athletes' potential and capabilities.
- Don't: Demand too much time/commitment from a young athlete who cannot handle it. This can lead to burnout, and even injury.
- Do: Coach players how they need to be coached. Some need strong guidance and reinforcement, while others are self-directed and only need to be managed.
- Don't: Give too much attention to the "star" players while ignoring the importance and potential of the rest of the team.
- Do: Support, listen, praise, and understand players after a loss. Respecting and accepting athletes emotions after a loss provides them with an acceptable environment for these feelings.
- Don't: Pressure players into thinking that every game, and even practice, is a matter of "life and death."
- Do: Highlight the importance of life lessons that can be taken away from participating in sports, such as working together with a team, overcoming adversity, patience, and hard-work.
- Don't: Disregard the athletes' time for other important aspects of life, such as family, school, friends, and relaxation.
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Dahlkoetter, J. (2011). The top 5 mistakes coaches and parents make in motivating athletes. Retrieved from http://www.gatorade.com/moms/articles/2011/12/8/The_Top_5_Mistakes_Coaches_and_Parents_Make_in_Motivating_Athletes.aspx