How to Perform at Your Best
What motivates you to perform your best in competition? What sources of motivation give you that extra boost to push in practice and training?
Without motivation, you won’t accomplish much in your sport. Competing at a high level requires you to fuel your motivational tank continually.
It is interesting to note that motivation is personal. In other words, one athlete’s motivation is another athlete’s anxiety.
For example, an athlete may use a loss as fuel to work harder in practice, study film, and put more time in the weight room after an embarrassing defeat.
Another player may feel that he made too many mistakes during the game and fear being replaced in the starting line-up. Instead of being motivated, he may lose confidence in his ability.
The way a player interprets an event will affect their motivation.
Here’s another example. A playoff game affects every player differently. One player might be motivated to raise their level of play. This player may feel energized and focused for the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and ability. In contrast, another player may fear making mistakes and decide to play it safe during the game.
As you can see, your motivation will affect both how you prepare and how you perform.
In the 2021 NBA Draft, Cade Cunningham was selected with the overall number one pick by the Detroit Pistons. The draft was loaded with a talented rookie class. Some players will be motivated to develop their game, while others will be afraid to compete against the best players in the world.
A player’s motivation will be the difference-maker in a player’s ability to rise to the top or have a short-lived career.
Cunningham is excited to compete against the very best and uses this challenge to fuel his motivation
CUNNINGHAM: “I’m competitive. I want to be better than who I was yesterday, and, you know, whoever is up against me, but I don’t try to compare myself to any of those guys. My class is full of big-time talent. So I think it kind of motivates me more to be more of myself. I’m used to us pushing each other to be better. So seeing them guys do their thing, I mean, I’m happy for them. Now I’m excited to get my chance to do my thing.”
As you can see from Cunningham’s quote, challenges motivate athletes. When you see opportunities as challenges, you will be motivated to put in the work to meet or beat a challenge.
Keeping Motivation High
Create small challenges for yourself consistently in your daily training. Set small objectives each week to help you reach your long-term goals.
Challenge yourself in practice to defend against the team’s top scorer, work on your putting game, learn a new serve, develop a new gymnastics trick.
Challenge yourself to learn how to manage your emotions. Challenge yourself to gain more functional strength. Challenge yourself to eat healthier.
If you create challenges each day, week, practice, or competition, you will keep your motivational tank fueled and feel energized throughout the season.
Related Sports Psychology Articles
- Strategies to Set and Achieve Goals
- Have Trust in Your Skills
- What Separates Elite Athletes from the Rest?
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