Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Motivating collegiate student-athletes Essay

Motivating athletes is one of the major problems a coach faces. Even the most talented athlete will not perform to his full potential if not properly motivated. Coaches have sought to define what motivates an athlete and what hampers it for years. Motivation directly influences an athlete’s performance. It sets his mood and outlook towards the game or competition. It determines his level of dedication to the sport. Motivation does not only affect the individual player but also his team. It is important that all the members of the team be motivated individually to ensure team motivation. Motivation can also shift. An athlete who was highly motivated at the start of the season may find that his drive to play is dwindling. It is these problems that coaches need to address. This paper tackles the problem of motivating collegiate student-athletes. The key areas of focus will be defining the best type of motivation for collegiate student-athletes and building a structure to incorporate motivation into the coach’s overall program by using the proper tools of goal setting and visualization. A. Intrinsic Motivation Motivation can take two forms: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation involves â€Å"engaging in an activity as a means to an end† (Higgins & Trope, 1986). This end referred to by Higgins & Trope (1986), take the form of rewards. Factors like popularity, trophies, jackets or jerseys identifying the wearer as part of a sports team, extrinsically motivate student-athletes. While extrinsic motivation is a good start, it does not ensure the consistent and long term drive coaches seek for (Schone, 2008). Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, refers to the drive of a student to engage in an activity because he wants to (Taylor & Wilson, 2005). The satisfaction derived from playing the game itself is the motivating factor. As Burton and Raedeke (2008) put it, â€Å"intrinsically motivated athletes play for the love of the game. † It is this type of motivational environment that coaches should create for their athletes. How does a coach achieve such an environment? According to Martens (2004), sports psychologists have identified the two key needs of an athlete: having fun and feeling worthy. Having Fun Burton and Raedeke (2008) explained that having fun and developing skills were rated as the top reasons why athletes participate in a sport. On the other hand, Garret (2008) pointed out that one of the reasons why female student-athletes quit sports is because â€Å"the experience ceased being fun. † Having fun does not mean goofing around. Fun is striking a balance between skill and challenge (Burton & Raedeke, 2008). Without that balance, the result would either be boredom, where the skill outweighs the challenge, or anxiety, where the challenge outweighs the skill (United States Tennis Association, 2004). Therefore, it is the job of the coach to identify the level of skill of each player and develop a challenging training program that will develop the team’s skills but not overwhelm them. Following are some ways suggested by numerous writers (e. g. Burton & Raedeke, 2008; Garret, 2008; La Prath, 2008;) to keep training fun: ? Offer variety. Make practices stimulating by varying the exercises and drills given to the athletes. Do not make the training program a routine. Consistency is important however introducing changes will keep athletes sharp. It also helps to change the practice environment. Holding training sessions at the beach or in a park instead of the school gymnasium will be enjoyable for student-athletes. ? Keep all players busy. Make sure that everyone is doing something instead of waiting for long periods of time for his or her turn to practice. Breaks in between practice should be short as well. Giving athletes too much lag time increases boredom. To make sure everyone is participating break the team in to groups where each group is given a specific activity to do or made to compete against each other. Following the first tip, make the groupings diverse. Groupings can be done according to skill or even according to year level or favorite sports celebrity. ? Involve the team. Listening to the inputs or opinions of a student-athlete can help improve not only the performance of the team but also of the coach. It also gives the athlete a sense of investment in the team, ensuring the maintenance of his interest in the sport and in his team. Coaches can involve student-athletes by offering a practice day where the players themselves can devise their own training program. Giving the team an opportunity to formulate strategies to win the game is another way. Even simple things like letting them design their own jackets or jerseys will give them a sense of involvement in the decision making process. ? Give the team time to play. For every training session allot time for the team to play without receiving instruction or evaluation from the coach. Give the athletes a chance to engross themselves in the game. Hearing constant instruction hampers experience of flow. ? Train student-athletes to cope with stress. It is inevitable that an athlete will experience stress. Pressure to achieve in both sports and academics is high in a competitive college environment. The athlete must learn how to deal with this and manage the anxiety accompanied with it. Coping with stress can be done through affirmation, positive reinforcement, and teaching a student that down time is also vital to their health. An hour of rest can energize a student. Sleeping at the correct time and for the proper length of time, eating the right food and taking the appropriate vitamins are ways to minimize stress. ? Incorporate teambuilding activities. Important in team sports is getting the individual players in sync with each other. Without activities that foster friendships you would not have a team but a group of individuals playing together. Building camaraderie would not only enhance the performance of the team but the individual players as well.

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