10 Helpful Tips for Motivating Young Athletes


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Many parents want their children to succeed in sports. They want them to be like Cristiano, Messi, Rafa Nadal, Alberto Contador, etc., depending on the sport in which they compete.

It happens with coaches, too. But not only that. Obviously, a coach wants to get the most out of his players, whether he wants them to succeed or not in the future. And that’s where motivation comes into play. So today I want to tell you how to motivate young athletes.


1. Tolerate Ups and Downs in Sports Performance


Staying on top is very difficult. It’s not always going to go well. We cannot require children to be as competitive as elite athletes, because even elite athletes are not free from ups and downs. ​​It can be difficult for students to combine sports and school, and it can cause them stress. To keep sports from interfering with their grades, children can pay for my essay at special paper services.


2. Promote Equality Within the Team


What would you think if your teammate played more minutes than you, putting in the same effort every practice? What if the coach constantly praised him? What if he made an example of him when others did something wrong and told you off? 

All players are the same. Let’s not forget that we are in a grassroots sport and that, above all, the goal is to instill values in them and help them acquire habits of healthy living. We’re not going to accomplish anything positive by singling out one player among others. 

Thus, the only thing we will achieve is jealousy and envy of the rest of the team and more demotivation because they will think, “No matter what he does, he is the favorite and will always be the best”.


3. Take Into Account the Child’s Opinion and Allowing Them Some Autonomy to Decide


It’s very motivating and satisfying to know that at least someone above us is listening to our opinions and our suggestions. Or, in other words: knowing that we are contributing to moving our team forward.

On the other hand, giving boys and girls a certain amount of autonomy in decision-making also helps motivate them. Decisions are always made on the field. Obviously, they cannot make all the decisions, but you can give them some autonomy in their decision-making. At the same time, it will help them mature and gain responsibility.


4. Set Realistic Goals


We have to be realistic because otherwise we will demand more from ourselves than we can achieve, and end up getting discouraged when we see that we are not achieving our goals.

Another point to keep in mind is that when we set goals, we should always go a little beyond what we can do. That is, we should try to step out of our comfort zone. For example, if my goal is to run 10 km in 46 minutes and I see that I can achieve it without problems, I can set myself a goal to run it in 44 minutes. And so on, so that we don’t “settle down” and see the sport we are doing as a challenge for us.


5. Reinforce the Positive Aspects


Many coaches make the mistake of rebuking the negative aspects of their players. “You guys suck. We lost because you don’t know how to defend”. Phrases like these cause the athlete’s motivation to fall to the ground and they also feel guilty. Replace them with phrases like, “I liked the way you played today”, or “You didn’t score a goal, but you created many chances to get a goal and supported your teammates on defense”.


6. Do Not Require That They Be Entirely Dedicated to the Sport


Some parents forget that their children have a social life and force them to put aside other hobbies or the simple fact of going out for a drink with friends. We can’t require them to fully commit to sports because they will feel more pressure and end up giving up sports. 

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7. Causal Attributions


We should not make an athlete think that their successes and failures always depend on themselves or their environment. There is a balance, and we don’t always lose because of environmental factors, nor do we always lose because of a lack of ability when it comes to competition.


8. Give Importance to Personal Competition


Healthy living habits and values such as camaraderie, effort, and perseverance should be encouraged in sports. Also, many coaches make the mistake of giving more importance to short-term goals, when long-term goals should be more important. What do I mean by that? That it’s more important to put in the effort and maintain the level than to require them to peak in the match.

On the other hand, I insist again: don’t forget that they are in the learning phase. The personal and educational trajectory is much more important than the athletic trajectory. They are children, young people, and teenagers. Let’s not deprive them of the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful stage of their lives.


9. Encourage Fair Play


Fair play is based on competition with respect for others. Coaches who force their players to break the rules to achieve better results, contribute to the demotivation of their players. In addition to being very demotivating, unfair play is also dangerous because it can lead to injuries and even cause fights between teams on the field.


10. Learned Helplessness


Learned helplessness is a condition in which a person has learned to behave passively in the face of negative stimuli, even though there is an opportunity to avoid them and/or run away from them to avoid the unpleasant consequences they cause. We noted some time ago in an article that this can happen in the classroom as well as in sports.

An athlete who feels helpless is an athlete who plays without motivation. He believes that no matter what he does, he will not get what he wants. He thinks his goals are unattainable. Moreover, this situation can be exacerbated when a coach gives excessive praise to one of his players, including because that player is his favorite.

Don’t forget to reward them for reaching their goals. Saying, “Good job, boys/girls”, or “I’m very proud of you” will cheer them up. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and they are still young people in their formative years. Let them enjoy sports and free time. Let them live with their teammates and even their “rivals”. Because even if they wear different colors when they leave the field, they are still young people who share a passion for the same sport.

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