How to Motivate Young Athletes
Motivation is a very critical factor when it comes to performance. Every athlete needs one form or another of motivation to improve their performance. There is always a desire to grow and achieve sporting excellence among young athletes. But what drives that desire is their level of motivation.
Motivation plays a far more significant role than most coaches may ever imagine. It creates an atmosphere of self-belief and confidence. Young athletes need help to believe in their ability to perform and actualize their dreams.
However, the question now is, “How do you motivate young athletes to bring out their best?”
Acknowledge the significance of motivation
As a coach, the first step to take in motivating your young athlete is to, first of all, acknowledge the importance of motivation. Coaches should understand that with just mental preparedness and physical training, young athletes may not put in the desired effort into training. Hence, they need constant motivation along the way.
More so, young athletes need to be taught to love and enjoy the game without seeing it as a task that must be completed. Motivation may even be in the form of gaining skills and experience in a particular sport.
Coaches may need to give positive feedback and appreciate an athlete’s substantial contribution. Material rewards, medals, and even positive commendations may go a long way to motivate young athletes.
Identify each athlete’s unique form of motivation
Motivation may be generic for the entire team or an individual athlete. In terms of personal motivation, coaches may need to understand that individuals react differently to different forms of motivation.
Some young athletes may cherish words of praise from their coach far more than when they are materially rewarded. But others may prefer to be given bonuses or other motivation forms. Singing the praise of a particular athlete in the presence of a group may make the young athlete feel shy while another athlete may be comfortable with such an approach.
As a coach, identifying the unique motivation strategy for each athlete will go a long way in bringing out the best in their performance. Watch how your athlete reacts to a particular motivator strategy and learn to modify your approach to suit each athlete.
Let them know why they are motivated
As a coach or the head of a young athletic team, you must let your athletes understand why they are motivated. To get young players to perform better, they have to know the benefits and what they stand to gain if they outperform their competitors.
Do not just focus entirely on drills to get the job done because their performance may not improve if they do not fully understand how such exercises could help them become successful as athletes.
You do not need to assume that all your athletes understand the importance of practice. Teach them to know why they need to succeed as young athletes. When young athletes see the result of their actions, they are better motivated to listen to instruction and perform better in the future.
Young athletes should be taught to see the benefits of teamwork. The culture of teamwork should be imbibed because they will learn not to let the team down. When young athletes are encouraged to work as a team, everyone would want to give their best so as not to let the team down.
Additionally, coaches may need to encourage a connection between individual players so that everyone would know how vital their role is in the team.
Young athletes should be encouraged to know one another. They should be involved in team-building activities. Coaches may also need to celebrate the achievement of the entire team and courage teammates to build a healthy and robust relationship among them.
Commend achievements no matter how little
It is the nature of young people to expect appreciation after accomplishing a task. They are motivated to improve and perform better when they are appreciated.
Therefore, as a coach, you should not limit the celebration of success to winning a game or finishing tops in competition. Try to see the progress in activities carried out by players no matter how small.
If an athlete can complete a difficult drill, beat his or her personal best, perform a lovely skill, etc. you may need to commend such a touch of brilliance and motivate them to do more.
It is essential to watch out for a little glimpse of improvement in young athletes and commend them for it. By doing so, they may improve their performance to receive further commendation from you.
Set attainable goals
When young athletes achieve a goal, they feel very motivated because they believe that they have attained a certain level of accomplishment. You must set goals for your athletes. Goals may be long or short, depending on the objective of the team.
However, goals should be achievable. Set out goals that can be accomplished and let everyone in your team know about these goals. You may choose to set both individual and team goals to test the limit of individual athletes and the team in general.
The right approach to take in goal setting is to set goals on improvement in specific aspects rather than win-based goals for the team. You may even set practice-related goals such as drill performance, attendance, or team motivation.
The best strategy in motivating young athletes may depend on the skill level, age, and ability of your athletes. As a coach, you should motivate your athletes both on an individual basis and as a team.
Young athletes may be motivated to overcome obstacles and accomplish their goals irrespective of the challenges they may encounter.
Young athletes are future Olympians, world cup winners, and of course, the best in their respective fields. With the right motivation, the sky may be a stepping stone to higher ground for these young champions. So be the best coach!
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