Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Coaching - Motivating Young Athletes

A coaches job can assume many roles within a young athlete's life; they can be an instructor, a mentor, a role model and sometimes a friend or confidant. Coaches have the ability to positively influence a youth's decision to continue their involvement in sport. So what do you do if your player or team is lacking the motivation for success?
  • Provide encouragement - acceptance and approval by coaches and peers strongly influence an athlete's perception of enjoyment and motivation. Provide frequent, clear and positive feedback. Focus on increasing skill and giving them information on how to improve the next attempt, rather than pointing out errors.
  • Goal-setting - Long and short-term goals can be set and should be designed to be challenging but not unreachable. Keep in mind the capabilities of the athlete, set positive goals and ensure the goals are attractive to the athlete.
  • Establish team camaraderie - It's important for players to feel comfortable with their teammates and coaches. Team cohesion can greatly enhance the enjoyment athletes experience through participation, as well as their performance. Teams who have a strong camaraderie are more likely to be successful in terms of team unity and seasonal improvement.
  • Keep sport fun! - Young athletes and adolescents love when there are opportunities for high levels of action and being involved in that action. Practice activities can be structured to maximize action by eliminating waiting in line, having sufficient equipment and keeping things moving with short but intense and varied activities. If you wish, you can involve young athletes in the decision-making process by allowing them to choose a drill or activity at the end of practice.
To maximize motivation, coaches can positively affect their players motivation by providing positive feedback, creating challenging goals, encouraging social support, and first and foremost ensuring the sport experience is fun and enjoyable for all.
References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Bell K. Motivating Athletes to Train. American Swimming. March 2007;2007(2):30-38. 
2. Beyer C. Motivating Your Athletes Throughout the Season. Coach & Athletic Director. May 2000;69(10):68.
3. Fleck E. 10 Strategies for Motivating the Recreational Athlete. IDEA Fitness Journal. February 2013;10(2):62-64.  
4. Mahoe S. Five Ways to Improve Communication with your Players. Coach & Athletic Director. February 2007;76(7):44.
5. Nall E. 5 EASY MOTIVATIONAL TIPS. Volleyball. September 2007;18(9):16-17.
6. Pendleton S. Motivating Female Athletes for Success in Basketball. Coach & Athletic Director. February 2001;70(7):96.
7. Teeple G. Motivating Strength Training Athletes by Goal Setting. Coaching Youth Sports. May 2004;:1.
8. Weiss M. Teaching a Love of the Game. Soccer Journal. July 2007;52(4):8-9.