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The Nine Mental Skills of Successful Athletes
Motivation and Inspiration
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Motivating Young Athletes

Motivating

Young Athletes 24

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One of the hardest parts of youth

football coaching is motivating young

athletes to practice. To do this effec-tively,

the coach has to foster an

understanding of the relationship

between training, practice and peak

performance. He must encourage the

athletes, provide structured training,

and help them gain the self-discipline

necessary for success and excellence

on the field.

BUILDING THE COACH-ATHLETE

RELATIONSHIP

Effective motivation flows from the

partnership between coaches and ath-letes.

As coaches, we must under-stand

our athletes as individuals and

as a team gain their trust and

respect.

We must remember that were coach-ing

people, not machines. We must

teach youngsters the mechanics of a

sport, but we must also assist in build-ing

their character. Showing support

and interest in all facets of their lives

helps build an effective coach-athlete

relationship.

A good way to demonstrate such per-sonal

interest is by working out with

the athletes. It will show them that

youve been where they are, that you

know its hard work, and that youre

willing to sweat, too.

DEVELOPING A WINNING

ATTITUDE: SETTING GOALS

At Mount Carmel High School, we

think in terms of attitude, motivation,

performance, and success. Success

is a journey, not a destination.

Success is realized the moment an

athlete gains a winning attitude, is

motivated to set a worthwhile goal, and

begins to move toward that goal.

A winning attitude is the best motivator.

If athletes believe they can achieve

their goals, theyll try harder and

increase their likelihood of success.

A positive coach-athlete relationship

lays the groundwork for this attitude,

and the setting of clearcut goals helps

establish it. Coaches should help the

athletes set long-term goals and

encourage them to achieve these

goals through a series of short-term

goals.

The incremental goals will keep moti-vation

high, while giving the athletes

an ongoing sense of achievement.

Once the athlete begins developing a

sense of accomplishment, he will be

motivated to try even harder.

At Mount Carmel, we have our athletes

write down a goal and the obstacles

they anticipate in reaching it. We then

identify the steps to take and the short-term

achievements leading to the goal.

For example, if a football player wants

to play wide receiver but isnt fast

enough, we set short-term goals to

increase his speed. Each tenth of a

second improvement in speed will

motivate him to try even harder. If he

increases his speed enough, we will

give him a chance at wide receiver. If

he doesnt, we will examine why and

set up a new workout schedule.

 

INCENTIVES AS MOTIVATORS

Incentives (material rewards for good

performance) are commonly used for

motivation, but may only be effective

on a short-term basis. Athletes may

become satisfied once they achieve

rewards, such as helmet stickers or

plaques, and the rewards will lose their

power to motivate. We often have to

increase the value or quantity of incen-tives

to motivate players on an ongoing

basis.

FEAR MOTIVATION

We do not believe that fear motivates.

Fear motivation, or punishing players

to motivate them, is only a temporary

expedient. After repeated exposure to

fear tactics, athletes become immune

to threats, and continued punishment

may destroy their desire to participate.

Its difficult to justify using fear to moti-vate

young players.

T-E-A-M

Its important to remember that ath-letes

can motivate one another. We

usually split the players into drill

groups and score them as a team

rather than as individuals. These train-ing

sessions help build team morale

and make the players feel they have

invested in one another. Each player

has a responsibility to the team. We

share the short-term goals of improv-ing

attitudes and basic skills with the

long-term benefit of overall improved

performance.

SUMMARY

Motivation is simply a means to an

end. If we provide exposure to posi-tive

ideas over a long period of time,

we will produce a successfully motivat-ed

athlete.

To summarize, this is our Mount

Carmel Credo: Attitude controls moti-vation;

motivation controls perfor-mance;

performance controls success.

And theres no I in T-E-A-M.

 

By Frank Lenti

Head Football Coach

Mount Carmel High School

1996

Frank Lenti is head football coach and

assistant dean at Mount Carmel High

School in Chicago. During his four

years as head coach, his teams have

made both the City and State playoffs

twice winning the City championship

in 1985 and making the State finals in

1986. A former college football player

and 1986 Chicago Catholic League

Coach of the Year, Lenti has spoken at

numerous coaching clinics, and is a

member of the Illinois H.S. Football

Coaches Assn. and American Football

Coaches Assn.

The Coaches Corner is a service of the

Gatorade Sports Science Institute .

For more information, contact:

Gatorade Sports Science Institute

617 West Main Street

Barrington, Illinois 60010

800-616-GSSI (4774)

http:// www.gssiweb.com/

email:gssi@gssiweb.com

 

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