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What Motivates You?

October 25, 2017

Have you been asked this question before? If you are an athlete that is a promising prospect you have no doubt been asked this question by scouts, managers, your local coach and college recruiters. You probably squirmed, wondered what to answer - what do they want to hear? Are you worried that you are not motivated enough to succeed?


Some athletes have to work hard to nurture and sustain motivation because of their own personality characteristics. Like many things in life, motivation is something to work on and work for. There is no perfect athlete, but there are activities that can be completed that help you along the way. First, let's understand what makes up motivation.


Motivation has three key components:

  • Selectivity – the tendency to pursue one activity over another

  • Intensity – the amount of energy devoted to the activity

  • Persistence – the tendency to continue an activity until a particular aim is achieved 

Motivation that is external to the individual is known as extrinsic motivation.  Examples of extrinsic motivation include winning money or medals, approval of others, or obtaining fame and glory.

Motivation that comes from within is known as intrinsic motivation. In general terms, it is seen by psychologists as the most powerful form of motivation as it relates to doing something for pure enjoyment or as an end in itself.


All of us (most of us) learn a sport because we show interest in it. Sometimes that love of the game and competition helps to drive us to great heights and in rare occasions leads to the professional ranks and/or Olympic competition. One can argue that all athletes begin with intrinsic motivation and sometimes the fame, glory and approval of others takes over. Is it only love of sport that drives the motivation of an athlete?

Need for achievement refers to the degree to which an individual is naturally competitive and actively seeks out the sort of challenge that sport provides.  Fear of failure refers to negative attitudes and behavioral responses we may need to overcome in order to be successful. Of course, no athlete enjoys defeat, but it can be more damaging to some than others.


What is the ideal makeup of an athlete? As a manager, coach or a scout, you want an athlete that is specifically focused, intense and persistent. You want an athlete that has a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivating factors with the majority lying on the intrinsic side. Finally, you want an athlete that has a high need for achievement and a respectable fear of failure. Fear of failure is normal and healthy, so long as it is not paralyzing and does not dominate your thoughts. Let's be realistic. There is no perfect athlete and no perfect human. If you are scouting or recruiting an athlete look for a combination of the factors that we have seen here.


Now that we have explained what motivation is, what can you do to improve it? If you are an athlete or a coach struggling with proper motivation to train and compete, there are a few things you can do. If athletes attribute their performance outcomes to things they can control, such as work rate, training and attitude, then motivation will be enhanced. It is important that athletes see success or failure as largely due to factors within their control. 


First factor is GOAL SETTING. 


Second factor is REWARD PROGRAMMING 


Third factor is SELF TALK




We will cover all four of these topics in depth in subsequent posts. 


Now that we have touched on the topic of motivation, what do you think? Are you motivated, are you afraid of competition? Are you anxious? There is help out there and people who can guide you on your path to success. 


Next week we will cover the topic of goal setting. Until then, stick with this question - What motivates you?



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