Athlete Motivation

Topics: Motivation, Dean Smith, Pittsburgh Steelers Pages: 7 (2460 words) Published: December 20, 2008
Athlete Motivation


Motivation is one of the biggest ways in which great coaches have developed winning programs throughout the centuries. There are many ways to motivate athletes but what are the best? Has motivating athletes changed with each generation? In sports athletes are often asked to raise their level of play in order to be successfully and understanding how to motivate any athlete will enable a coach to not only ask for more out of his team or player but to also get what he asks for. In order to be successful coaches must be able to motivate because players do not simply go out and do their best or train harder on their own. As humans we love to be motivated which is why movies such as Rudy, Apollo 13, Gladiator, Remember the Titans, and Braveheart capture our hearts and minds; we long to be inspired to bigger and better things. As coaches seek to mentor their players, they must inspire the young men and women in their program, not just to become better athletes but to become better people as well.

This paper will seek to identify highly motivational coaches and the motivational techniques they use and why they use them. What makes one coach a better motivator than another, is it simply personality, or is it a trait that can be learned and developed? This paper will seek to answer those questions and more.

For the purpose of this article, the definition of motivation is provided by Merriam-Webster (2008) will be used, “something (as a need or desire) that causes a person to act.” This is the goal of every coach to set foot on a field, court or other athletic arena who wants to see his/her athlete do well. Similarly, the word inspire is defined by Merriam-Webster (2008) as, “to exert an animating, enlivening, or exalting influence on [someone or something].” It will be the opinion of this paper that motivation and inspire are ultimately the same thing and can be used interchangeably. There are too many stories to quote about influential coaches changing the lives of their athletes and helping them become better people because of the time they spent caring and mentoring them. This article will examine how that is done in the most effective way possible.

Review of Literature

When a coach can win and produce excellent athletes no matter where he goes, he is often heralded as a great coach, one who can teach the game at a very high level. One of the most overlooked parts of being a great coach however is being able to motivate at a high level. A program cannot become a “dynasty” without a coach who knows how to motivate his players better than anyone else. Different sports require different types of motivation and different teams within a sport require different types of motivation. For example, the Yankees were a dynasty during the late 1990’s, Joe Torre, their coach, did a unique job in managing a lot of old veterans mixed with young stars; his motivating of players differed from that of Jim Lleyland who was managing the Florida Marlins at the time, a team full of young, up and coming talent. The motivational techniques for each of these teams were different and each coach had to learn what was better for their own team. That is why the best coaches, men like Vince Lombardi, Tony Dungy, Augie Garrido, Roy Williams, Dean Smith and others all have the ability to motivate their players better than anyone else.

Tony Dungy is the only African-American coach to win a Super Bowl. In fact, until he got to the Super Bowl against the Chicago Bears in 2007, no African-American coach had ever coached a team in the Super Bowl. Dungy was the first however, the first there and the first to win it. Although Dungy has brought a lot of success to Indianapolis, his first head coaching job was for an organization that had been losing for years, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He helped build a winning tradition in the Buccaneer organization and the year after he left...

References: Bowers, M., Lucas, A. & Kirschner, S. (2006) Led by Their Dreams. Guilford, CN: The Lyons Press.
Dungy, T. & Whitaker, N. (2007). Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices & Priorities of a Winning Life. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Franklin, B. (Producer). (June 15, 2008). Augie Garrido. [Inning by Inning: Portrait of a Coach]. Austin, TX: ESPN.
Gould, D. & Weinberg, R. (2007). Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Henderson, Kyle. (2006, March 12). Winning Coaches Know the Secret of Goal Setting. Ezine Articles. Retrieved June 17, 2008, from
Stuntz, C. & Spearance, A. (2007, July) “Coach–athlete and teammate holistic relationships: Measurement development and prediction of motivational factors.” Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. Retrieved July 2, 2008 from EBSCOhost Database.
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