How to motivate kids in sports?
There is no magic potion when it comes to motivating kids to do well in sports. It is important to recognize that different kids react in different ways to the element of motivation, making it vital that you provide unique avenues to inspire this drive to get better. Motivation is not a one size fits all approach. Here are five proven ways to motivate kids to put forth their best effort in sports.
Provide extra training opportunities
One great way to encourage an athlete to reach deeper is to offer them opportunities to get better outside of the standard practice and game situations. These outside training opportunities are helpful because they usually give the athlete a new voice in addition to their usual coach or instructor.
The different environments may also be helpful in providing a break from the usual monotony of practice. Mixing up the training groups with different athletes is also a welcome relief for some kids. If your athlete does not immediately accept the opportunity to train more, it is important that you do not push the issue. Simply put it on the back burner and bring it up another time when they may be more receptive.
Be lavish with praise
Most kids respond well to praise and positive feedback. Savvy youth coaches and parents understand the importance of giving praise for what the athletes are doing well both in practices and games. If kids feel recognized for their efforts, they are more likely to be motivated to work harder at their game.
Keep in mind that there is a fine line between offering the appropriate amount of praise and being careful to not make them think that they are better than they are. Too much praise can lead a young athlete to stop putting forth as much effort.
Not all athletes respond well to intrinsic motivation. Some need external rewards to stoke the fires and encourage them to try harder. This is where some coaches find offering physical rewards in the form of trophies to be helpful.
In addition to standard metal trophies, you may want to consider mixing it up a bit by choosing a glass award. These unique awards will be a gift that the athlete takes pride in, spurring them on to earn even more trophies. Do not ever underestimate the power of a physical award that a player can take home and proudly display in their home.
Empower kids to make their own decisions
Kids will naturally feel more motivated if they feel empowered to make their own decisions. Giving them control over their athletic development can go a long way in motivating them to give a stronger effort.
Do not be afraid to let your kids make their own choices even if you do not always agree with what they decide. If they make a poor choice, they will learn that these decisions have consequences. Learning from a mistake is an extremely powerful way for kids to come to the right level of motivation on their own. For example, a basketball player who does not work hard in practice will likely ride the bench. This is a natural consequence of not being motivated.
Listen to the athlete and respond appropriately
Regardless of if you are a parent or a coach, there is a lot that you can learn by listening carefully to what every young athlete is saying about their playing experience. Good questions to start with include asking them for input on what sports they truly love playing and what they want to pursue. Their answers may surprise you.
If you find an athlete particularly engaged in a conversation, jump on the opportunity to use this time to learn more about what may motivate them. Respect the answers that they give you to the hard questions, even if you do not like what they say.
You can never force a child to be more motivated. However, there are intentional steps that you can take to encourage a higher level of engagement and effort. These five tips are all great ways to make this happen so that it becomes more of a habit for the budding athlete.