Removing Demotivators

By now we all know and acknowledge that motivation comes from within (hackneyed but true… until someone discovers the Motivation Gene.) It is not something given to you. What that means to us as a coach, a parent or a boss is that we can only work at creating an environment that optimizes someone’s motivation. We do not truly “motivate” them even though we use this phrase often. But here’s the real kicker: more often than not, we are more likely to be “demotivators.”

If someone doesn’t want to do something they won’t. They will find every excuse imaginable. And if they do finally follow through with the desired action it most likely won’t be of the quality desired. They will give the proverbial half-hearted effort. Therefore, when resistance appears from your athlete to do something it is time to step back a second and evaluate what is going on. As the leader of the group or team, the first step is gaining insights into the resistance. The questions themselves will lead you to the actions you need to take or stop taking.

• Is the workout too actually much or too little?
• Have workouts been tedious, boring?
• Are there personal issues occurring outside the track?
• Are there interpersonal issues between group members?
• How much feedback have you been giving to each member?
• How much quality interactions have you had with each member? Is there socialization time?
• Are workouts becoming too competitive?
• When was the last time you specifically did a “team” oriented workout (like relay races for intervals)?
• Are parents the driving force behind the youth participating?
• Is a significant-other the driving force behind someone participating?
• Is there sniping or ill-tempered interactions?
• Is there one member who seems to infect the attitudes of others?
• How long have the behaviors been going on?

I repeat, you do not motivate others. But, you may be doing things that do not provide the environment that fosters motivation. Learning individual needs of your athletes will guide you.

You also will not be able to please everyone. And that is not the message. However, your team has a “personality” or culture. If you work to recruit members who fit your philosophy and culture you will optimize your efforts to “motivate” others. This is why there isn’t a single club or team or coach no matter how “good” …that is the “best”. Matching your environment with athlete desires, predispositions and personalities is critical to minimizing your demotivating actions.

Once you have the right match between the athlete and coach you will more naturally minimize an environment that detracts from performance.

An individual runner can use similar questions to address his/her own resistance to doing certain workouts (or working out at all some days). Knowing what gets you going or keeps you going is important in creating a motivational atmosphere. If you enjoy running with others… plan it! If you enjoy getting away from the world… get out on the trails! Enjoy private time… ditch the group! If you aren’t a morning person… plan your runs later in the day! Have a tough track workout to do… invite someone along to torture them too! Misery loves company. Got the picture? The reason you may not doing things that you should is that you have demotivating practices.


About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
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