Motivation & Commitment

Dear Icebox:

I have plenty of athletes who are tough and talented, but not motivated to do the extra work necessary over the Summer to come into pre-season both improved and in shape. How do you increase the motivation of athletes for the Summer when they are away from the coaching staff and the school setting?


Dear Coach:

There is a great maxim in sports that says “The pain of not achieving your goals will always be greater than any pain it may take to achieve them.” Before your athletes get too far into the Summer break, it is important that they consider and write down their greatest hopes and greatest fears for next season, in terms of their own performance and for how the team may perform next season. This is much more than just listing goals. The exercise is a deep exploration of their greatest hopes and deepest fears (ie their greatest sources of motivation based on two of the most powerful human emotions love and fear) connected to their performance and their team’s performance for the coming season, and it is a great individual or team exercise that should take about 30 minutes. Practice and commitment bridges the gaps between these hopes and fears. The more we practice, the more we move towards our achieving our hopes, and the less we practice, the closer we get to realizing our fears. Further, it is the daily recognition and reminder of these hopes and fears that can provide the motivational rocket fuel to get into the gym, court, track, pool or field and get the necessary work done. Also remember a great essayist who once wrote “When the heart is captured, impossibilities vanish.” The goal of the “greatest hopes and fears for next season” motivation exercise is to capture the heart of the athlete. The keys to have motivated athletes who are working hard and maximizing their potential and improvement throughout the Summer are:

Each athlete completes the “greatest hopes and fears for next season” on an exercise sheet (again athletes can complete this exercise individually or in a team session where each athlete can read their answers to the rest of the team).

Have the athlete post the sheet where it can be seen daily throughout the Summer for daily motivation. Finally, have a great practice plan in place for each of your athletes to maximize their motivation, so that they know exactly what they are doing, how they can score/measure the results, how they can track improvements, and what their quantifiable performance goals are for each day of the practice plan.

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