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Motivation in Coaching

Motivation in coaching is so widely ranged. I believe everyone has their own philosophies and along with that, there are many different determinants involved in motivation. There are things such as: the age and skill level of the team, personnel and personalities of the team involved, and the different coaching philosophies. Great coaches adapt to each environment differently.
What it comes down to is how individuals and the team personality react and do with certain approaches to motivation. Each player responds in a different way, and the challenge is tailering to each of the ways to motivate all, but also keep your own philosophies in tact to keep the respect and ground work down. There are intrinsic and extrensic motivation, and to be effective, their needs to have both elements involved. Certain players react differently to different approaches, so leading by motivating by example and motivating by yelling in your face is a wide range of motivation levels.
I am dealing with that right now. The captain of our team who was an All-American last season and tremendous athlete is having troubles staying motivated and enjoying his last season as a senior. I am good friends with him and am having troubles finding a way to keep him going, and step back up to his level. We have had many talks about trying to get him motivated and know that he just isnt having fun anymore, would just like the season to be over. My challenge is finding a way to motivate him that is different from his old motivation tactics.
I really enjoyed the reading in Why Good Coaches Quit on page 28 called "Jacques & the Battle for East High". This is a good example of how coaches need to make their own footprints, but also tailering to a legendary system that has worked. That is how good coaches succeed. Coaches (or in life for that matter) will never please everyone and make everyone happy, but if you get the respect confidence of your players, that is how teams succeed.
There is no right way to coach. You never are just a coach during coaching hours. It does take time, and knowone can sign up for the job expecting to just coach a team and that's it. A coach is not only trying to better skills of an athlete, they are teaching life lessons as well. There does need to be a player/coach relationship and boundries of both. But good coaches have established boundries and its known by the players. It gets respect from coaches and players, but makes it also business pleasure.

Athletes Motivation

Motivation is a very difficult concept to understand as a coach, especially coming from a background of plenty of playing experience. Every individual functions differently and what motivates one athlete may leave another athlete completely unaffected. As a coach I often find this as a troubling issue. It can be difficult to understand why players do, or more importantly don't, behave the way we desire them too. Understanding this and attempting to address how your athletes are motivated is an important step towards getting the most out of your team.
With coaching many people would assume extrinsic motivation is a coach's primary job. However, I would argue, a quality coach would attempt to find a way to increase levels of motivation in their athletes intrinsically. Understanding how to do this will help both the coach focus on coaching and less on motivating while helping the players achieve a higher level of performance that is self initiated. It may take some time for the coach to find out how their team is motivated and what methods work most efficiently. Each team brings new and different challenges varying by factors such as age, ability and level of play. While we are nearly two thirds of the way through the season I am still working on improving my athlete's levels of motivation.
At the beginning of our season it was very clear who the more skilled players were and who had little to no experience playing. This was only made more evident by the players themselves. Often times the less skilled players would not put out the effort required to compete with the skilled players. They felt they had no control over how they would perform in drills. The skilled players were going to win so why even try? This also created little motivation for the skilled athletes because they didn't need to try very hard to be successful. I attempted to fix this by running the same drill to start practice at about ninety percent of our practices. The drill was directly related to our offensive philosophies which I intentionally showed and explained to them. I did this to help them understand why we were doing it and to give them confidence and familiarity with our offense. Players started to become more comfortable and competent and confidence grew. I used similar ideas in other drills, some team and some individual, to make players compete or go "game speed." I still struggled to get maximum effort out of my top two or three guys until recently. Eventually the less skilled players caught up, and in some ways passed the more skilled, forcing the more skilled to put out a better effort more consistently.
While I still often use extrinsic methods to motivate player's short term I have had some success raising player's intrinsic levels using a more long term plan. It took longer than I had hoped but am still pleased with the results and I am excited to see how much of it sticks with them through the off season.

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.

Motivation is Intrinsic

The topic of motivation is a complex issue. Motivation is stereotypically shown through the coach, the fans, and other people in the athletes' lives. However, I believe that motivation lies through mostly intrinsic factors, while extrinsic factors embellish the athletes' abilities for better or for worse. Although the issue of motivation is not exclusive to athletes, the coach has to find methods to motivate the athletes to address problems inside and outside of practice. This blog will examine how intrinsic motivation acts as a subterfuge over extrinsic factors for athletes and their coach.

Intrinsic factors play a role for athletes, because athletes first participate in sports for their own enjoyment. Vealey confirms this, stating that "[a]though motivation is the direct personal responsibility of the athlete, coaches can indirectly develop and enhance motivation by arranging the competitive environment" (45). Coaches can also help, but the athletes must want to engage in the activity, not the other way around. It is true that the coach must manipulate the environment (extrinsic factors) to create an ideal place for "fun". However, the coach must reflect upon the needs of the athletes with which s/he is working to create a sanctuary of sport. Cassidy, Jones, and Potrac explain the result: "a coach may become more sensitive to the backgrounds, needs and interests of the athletes and may develop practice sessions that are more meaningful for all concerned" (19). By reflecting upon the athletes, him/herself, the coach can create a program that does not surround itself with idea of winning but wants each athlete to gain meaning in participating in the activity. Meaning can be pleasure or disdain, but the coach has the power flush out those characteristics.

A more tangible example of intrinsic motivation comes from a story from "Why good Coaches Quit". Jacques, a coach who made a name from himself from coaching a winning team, eventually coaches for East High hockey for their prestigious program. During his first two years, Jacques got a lot of slack from parents and the booster club. These extrinsic motivators (only thinking about the award of winning) tried to tell Jacques to switch the program back to what it used to be in order to win a championship. Jacques refused and relied on intrinsic motivation from him to stick with his award-winning program. Jacques emphasized a relationship aspect with his players. Jacques cared about winning games, but the developmental process of playing hockey seemed more applicable to the players' lives. The kids are here to have fun; Jacques knew this was not the level to emphasize competition. Parents wanted instant results, and it did not happen. The athletes awarded Jacques and the assistant coach with a medal symbolizing that they stuck together because the coaches were thinking of the best interests of the athletes (the fun aspect).

As people grow, their values change, and doing things for fun may not be their immediate goal. Athletes will get scholarships and be extrinsically motivated by their respective schools. Intrinsic motivation plays a vital role in childhood, but as athletes mature, intrinsic motivation might not be constant.

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