What Motivates Your Athlete?

It's no secret that what motivates one athlete can leave another indifferent. Some live for the fire of competition and anything that will help them better an opponent gets them going. Others need a tangible reward to bring out their best. And some create their own motivation through the internal satisfaction of a job well done. As a parent, do you know what is the greatest form of motivation for your son or daughter when it comes to playing sports?

To gain the proper perspective on this topic, you can start by considering these questions: 

•  How important are sports to your son or daughter?

•  Does competition excite them?

•  What does your child like and dislike about practice?

Another great way to learn more about your athlete is to have him or her complete a brief questionnaire about their perception of success. This survey identifies the qualities an athlete associates with athletic achievement. For example, do they consider talent more important than attitude? Is possessing physical strength more essential than working hard? (Click here to access a Web version of the Perceptions of Success survey.)

Armed with insights into the athlete's view of his or her potential to succeed in sports, you can decide how to better motivate your child—whether to build their confidence, work on their ability to focus, or improve their knowledge of the sport.

You can use results from the motivation survey to help your child set realistic goals for their sports participation. Those who are motivated by the need to succeed or compete will probably respond better to goals centered on performance and improvement. An athlete who is more interested in the social aspect of being on a team, though, will likely respond to goals that reflect being a good teammate and supporting his or her teammates.

By taking the time to fully understand the sources of motivation for your teenage athlete, you will be in better position to help in your child improve his or her self-esteem and physical skills to realize a very rewarding experience as a high school sports participant.


Note:  This is an adapted article, written by Keith Manos, a former wrestling coach and athletic director at Richmond Heights (OH) High School. In 2009 Keith was inducted into the Ohio Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame.  Visit www.keithmanos.com to view other articles and books that he has written.


More On Motivating High School Athletes…


An article on Stack.com states that “Motivation comes in two forms:

Intrinsic— e.g., playing for the love the game

Extrinsic—e.g., performing to earn a reward”

The article says that motivations for an athlete can change throughout a career due to the level of play, loss of interest or greater reward. Athletes who possess a higher level of extrinsic motivation often perform better when there is a reward of value—and each athlete can have a different definition of "value." For example, it mean getting praise form the hear coach or earning a varsity letter.  Athletes who possess a high level of intrinsic motivation are generally hard workers and require little outside motivation.  This type of athlete regularly asks: "What else can I do to get better?"

The article states that “High school and collegiate athletes often possess a greater level of intrinsic motivation; however, some still need a certain level of external motivation. Knowing your athletes on a more personal level is extremely important to help them achieve great performances.”

Click here the read article on Stack.com