Athlete and Coach Application of Motivation

Motivation dictates a great deal of my thoughts and actions as a coach and athlete. Reading Vealey's chapter on motivation explained some of my personal experiences in terms of training and commitment. The information provided also detailed helpful tactics for developing coaching practice that can motivate individuals.

My experience as an athlete centers on the idea that various teams differ in their motivational environment. The rugby club I was a member of prior to graduate school included a great deal of extrinsic benefits. A multi-million dollar facility known as Infinity Park located in Glendale, CO is my former home. The tangible benefits to being a club member include free access to sport specific training facilities, dedicated locker rooms, and televised matches to name a few. As the stadium seats 5,000 spectators, it is a prime example of where playing in front of a large crowd can be motivating. While all of this is certainly exceptional examples of extrinsic rewards, to me, being a part of the club holds value because of the role I played in building it. The unique idea of creating a rugby-specific stadium was presented to our club, who before this option, practiced in the outfield of a recreational softball field. As the funding for the project had to come from tax payer contributions, it was important that politicians supporting the certain tax initiatives were elected into office. Volunteers were recruited to solicit absentee ballots from community members to ensure this occurred so I went door to door to generate support for the concept. Being a part of this first step provided more intrinsic motivation then any number of spectators.

In contrast, my current club status finds me once again practicing and competing on a community park field. Some of my teammates can recall playing with founding club members. Their motivation and dedication exists in the same fashion as mine for building my former club despite the absence of extrinsic rewards such as dedicated facilities. These teammates certainly are motivated by the love of the game!

My example from a coaching perspective on motivation involves a question posed in our first ever week of training. The players were how many would consider themselves competitive. The result shocked the entire coaching staff as only a few hands went up, which is a cause for concern on any team. To me, this result can only be explained as evidence of a previous environment riddled with failure-orientation. The athletes believed that if they describe themselves as competitive and fail, their lack of ability will be noticed and have a negative effect on their self-worth. As a coaching staff, we are currently working to adjust the team environment to encourage our athletes to embrace competition as an opportunity to improve performance and find enjoyment.

Perspectives from my background as a rugby player and coach contribute a wide variety of motivational relationships. Extrinsic factors to athlete orientations have contributed to my current status within the sport of rugby. Knowing about motivation helps to enhance my personal experience and hopefully improve that of the athletes I coach each week.