How to Motivate Young Athletes

As a coach, it is important to understand what makes your players tick, with motivating youngsters being different to adults. How you aim to motivate players is likely to depend on their age and ability, however there are some standout methods of ensuring that individuals as well as the entire team remain focus upon their goals.

Motivation can be defined as the desire to achieve a goal, with athletes potentially being motivated to win a competition, improve their skills or simply for enjoyment. The first step for coaches is to know what motivates their players, with youngsters generally being inspired by the following:


  • Training and competing
  • Improving their skills
  • Staying active
  • Socialising


However, for young athletes to get the most out of sport, coaches play a major role, with the following points being worth considering when looking to inspire the next generation of sportsmen and women.


Discover Individual Motivators

Everyone is unique when it comes to motivation, meaning that coaches must learn as much as possible about their players in order to ensure that they remain focused on developing, as well as enjoying what they are doing. Whether it be for the love of the sport that they are participating in, improving skills, receiving encouragement or lifting a trophy, such factors are likely to have an effect upon how motivated young athletes are. However, it is certainly not “one size fits all” when it comes to motivation, meaning that it can take both time and effort in order to work out what makes different players tick. However, once this is achieved, coaches can start to come up with training sessions and objectives.


Explain Why

Any coach worth their salt will be able to answer the question of why youngsters should participate in sporting activity. Sometimes stating the benefits of what you are doing is the simplest method of motivating, as it acts as a reminder to players. Certain training exercises can sometimes feel pointless or repetitive, especially to youngsters, meaning that it becomes even more important to make them understand exactly why they are completing them. Coaches must also ensure that they explain this in a way that is understandable for children.


Maximise Teamwork Opportunities

Forming positive relationships and developing social skills is one of the biggest positives that comes out of sport, with players regularly being required to go the extra mile for the sake the team. The sense of connection in which sport can bring is priceless, with the best coaches being able to ensure that such bonds are as strong as possible. This can be achieved by encouraging team bonding, as well as making a point of celebrating any individual or team accomplishments.


Reward Success

It is important for coaches to try and recognise even the smallest of improvements, whether it be individually or as a team. Celebrating successes should not just come after an impressive victory on the weekend, with more minor recognition often having a greater impact. So, when players perform a coaching drill effectively or perform a skill that they had previously been unable to master, be sure to let them know how well they have done.

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