Mental Skills for Building Motivation


More than anything else, athletic success comes from time and effort. No amount of talent can help a player who’s checked out or discouraged, and no amount of coaching can make a player want to be there.

Motivation is the fuel that powers all great teams and every star athlete. It’s a complicated psychological force that combines personal values with specific kinds of feedback and critical forms of support from parents, coaches, and trainers. It’s partly individual and partly social, and stands out as one of the most collaborative of the core mental skills that drive athletic success both on and off the field.

Our forthcoming Deep Dive on motivation gets into the details of coaching styles, feedback, and positive mental habits, building on the information in our Top Mental Barriers overview.

Top Mental Barriers: Motivation


Motivation is the combination of desire and intention. It is the will to act and to achieve. It is the source of hard work and the force that keeps athletes focused and engaged, and that gives them the emotional strength to recover from failures and learn from their mistakes.

There are dozens of kinds of motivation. You’ve probably heard of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, but that just scratches the surface. There are critical differences in motivational orientation, for example, between a player focused on growth and one focused on beating everyone else. Underneath that difference, there are the basic psychological “nutrients” that make motivation possible in the first place.

All of those topics are covered, in detail, in our Deep Dive.

Why it Matters for Athletic Performance

Almost every kinds of success in sports can be traced directly to motivation. Whether the student joins the team at all is a question of motivation. How much effort they invest during competitions is about motivation – and that’s often the entire difference between a loss and a win. Persistence during practices and over the course of a season come down to motivation, and it also supports sportspersonship and solid teamwork…not to mention a player’s ability to learn from their coach.


How to Improve

Boosting motivation comes down to personal mental habits, a team’s social atmosphere (or “motivational climate,”), and the use of “autonomy-supportive coaching” techniques. Read about those and more in our forthcoming Deep Dive:

How to improve confidence in your student athlete<br />



Introducing: Confidence Playbook

For Parents & Coaches Seeking to Cultivate Unshakable Confidence in their Student-Athletes.