What’s The Best Motivation For Athletes?

Increase Motivation

Increase Your Level Of Intrinsic Motivation

Have you lost your motivation in the middle of a long season?

Have you ever wondered what you could do to have greater motivation?

There have probably been times where you had difficulty getting psyched up for a competition or pushing through the drudgery of training.

As your season ended, you may have pointed to a lack of motivation as the cause of a sub-par season.

What exactly is motivation?

Motivation is the mental process that initiates, sustains or guides an athlete’s behavior (training, approach to competition, managing adversity, performance).

There are two types of motivation in sports: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation refers to athletic behavior that is driven by internal or personally meaningful rewards (opportunities to explore, learn, and actualize potential).

Intrinsically motivated athletes participate in sport for reasons such as: the enjoyment of playing their sport, the challenge of competition and reaching new personal levels, skill improvement, exploration of potential, etc.

Intrinsically motivated athletes typically concentrate on skill improvement and their growth as athletes.

Extrinsic motivation refers to athletic behavior that is geared toward earning external rewards or to avoid punishment.

Extrinsically motivated athletes participate in sport for motives such as external rewards (trophies, scholarships, media attention, accolades) or to avoid negative consequences (being benched, falling out of favor with coach, disapproval of parent).

Extrinsically motivated athletes tend to focus on the outcomes of athletic contests.

Which type of reward is better, intrinsic or extrinsic?

Extrinsic rewards are a fundamental component in competitive sports. Could you imagine professional football without a Super Bowl? Or eliminating ESPN to reduce the public attention athletes receive? Or even, if athletic scholarships were no longer offered by college programs?

Extrinsic rewards, when used correctly, can be beneficial to athletes.

However, overuse or over-focus on extrinsic rewards can actually de-motivate you and negatively affect your performance.

When your primary motivation is extrinsic, you may sense a greater amount of competitive pressure and anxiety, compare yourself unfavorably to other athletes, devalue your self-worth, find it difficult to deal with failure, or view your sport more like “work” than a “game.”

Ideally, you want the majority of your motivation to be intrinsic.

If you increase your level of intrinsic motivation, you will be better equipped to focus in the present. You will be able to maintain a consistent level of motivation through the course of the season.

You will be more focused during practice. You will experience less stress when mistakes are made. You will be more confident and you will enjoy playing your sport more.

So, you can greatly improve your performance and experience on the field by choosing more effective motivation strategies.

Try these tips to increase your level of intrinsic motivation:

  • Tip #1: Create personally meaningful goals and performance objectives. Challenge yourself to improve one aspect of performance each practice or training session (technique, conditioning, physical skill, or mental skill).
  • Tip #2: Participate in sports for the right reasons–because you love to compete! Pursue what you want to pursue. Take back control of your athletic life!

Successful athletes have learned how to stop performance anxiety and perform calmly and with poise.

We’ve created The Composed Athlete Workbook Program to help you do this.

Related Sports Psychology Articles

*Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on iTunes
*Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on Spotify

Download a free sports psychology report to improve your mental game!

Learn more about our one-on-one mental game coaching.

The Composed Athlete

“The Composed Athlete” is presented on 80-minute Audio Programs with a 70-page step-by-step workbook that guides you through the program each day. It’s a complete system for conditioning your mind to have maximum composure in competition.

The Composed Athlete” was developed for any level coach, parent, or junior to professional athlete who wants to improve performance and gain a competitive edge. It does not matter if you are a fledgling junior athlete; or a seasoned professional, plagued with distractions; or you just wanting to learn how to improve your composure…

Leave a Comment