Motivation is defined as: “the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal; the reason for the action; that which gives purpose and direction to behavior.” Motivators can be intrinsic or extrinsic depending on the given scenario or goal of a person. There has been countless research on motivation or what can be done to motivate an individual. Whether you are a coach or a certified athletic trainer (ATC) knowing the psychological factors that play into motivation can have a profound impact on your athletes.
Let’s use the example of an athlete who has sustained an injury and is out of participation for the season. How are you as a coach and ATC going to motivate them through this tough time? First off, motivation is about shared responsibility. It is not just up to you to motivate your athletes. They must have some spark or desire for motivation within themselves. Motivation is also about having a direction or goal. At the beginning of any rehabilitation program ATC’s define the goals of that program to give the athlete direction throughout the rehabilitation process. By also communicating with a coach about the rehab process you as an ATC are educating and also aiding in this process. Athletes first have the question of “why am I doing this?” so good communication and explanations as to “the why” can help in giving them motivation. As a coach you have to give your athletes direction. By casting your athlete out of your attention due to this injury could be psychologically damaging. They are unable to participate this season, but what about the next? Communicate with them about current and future goals to get them to where they need to be.
Motivation is also like selling. Good motivators are sales people. Whether in the athletic training room, field, court, etc., you have to sell your athletes on hard work and the pursuit of excellence. This means you have to explain the necessity of their hard work. By telling them how the rehab exercise or drill is going to get them closer to getting them where they need to be boosts their motivation to get there. Never assume an athlete should just be motivated. Motivation is an everyday job and not just during big games or milestones within the rehabilitation process.
The Six W’s: Work will win when wishing won’t.
— Todd Blackledge
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