Confidence and Motivation

One goal (duty) of a coach should be to increase the team’s motivation. In Sven-Goran Eriksson On Soccer, the authors suggest that motivation is a function of self-confidence – when a player loses confidence, his motivation wanes.

Willi Railo, a sports psychologist who has worked with Eriksson’s teams in Sweden, Italy and England, suggests eight building blocks for motivation:

  1. Trust is the foundation.
  2. The “we” feeling.
  3. Variation in training.
  4. Participation in decision-making. [Empowerment]
  5. Everyone’s views must be valued.
  6. Openness and clear information.
  7. Encouragement.
  8. More play.

These seems like fairly common sense ideas. However, how many coaches follow all eight building blocks? How many coaches empower their players to assist with the team decisions? One athletic director objected in an interview when I suggested that I would allow the team to make their own team rules, as I did when I coached in Sweden.

How many coaches incorporate play? As the author notes, many coaches assure their players that training is not fun. But, why not? What is wrong with enjoying what you do? Why must we make sport un-fun in an effort to be more competitive? Why can’t we create a competitive atmosphere that is fun? Virginia Tech is off to a great start this season, and the players cite the fun environment that their new coach, James Johnson, has created:

“I’m just having fun, I’m smiling, I feel like a whole new person. And a lot of that is because of [Johnson].”

How many coaches are open and clear with information as opposed to their players being on a “need to know” basis? How do we expect to develop and nurture mature athletes if we treat them like babies who cannot think for themselves?

The best athletes are internally motivated. The best coaches nurture this internal motivation and use these building blocks to increase their players’ motivation on and off the court.

By Brian McCormick, M.S.S., PES
Coach/Clinician, Brian McCormick Basketball
Author, Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League

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