How Athletes Stay Motivated

May 20, 2011

Must See Motivation Landing Page Videos

Most athletes experience times when they just don't feel motivated. For some, it might mean not wanting to go to practice. For others, it gets to a point where they lose interest in athletics altogether. Wherever you fall in the spectrum, STACK offers several ways to get out of your funk and back to being motivated.

There are two types of motivation—extrinsic and intrinsic. Athletes with extrinsic motivation are moved by external factors, such as fame, money or other people doubting them. Intrinsic motivation comes from within.

Which type should an athlete rely on to get to the next level?

Certified sports psychologist Tami Eggleston believes intrinsic motivation is a stronger driver. She says, “This would be the athlete who primarily performs because of the internal feelings of accomplishment, satisfaction, they like a challenge, they like competition, or they just love the sport or activity.”

Many athletes compete for both types of reasons. But according to Eggleston, intrinsic motivation should outweigh extrinsic factors. An athlete who plays primarily for fame and fortune is more likely to get off track, because hitting the weight room and practicing drills five or six days a week brings no glory. An athlete motivated by love of the game is more likely to succeed, because he or she takes pride in the little things—like a good workout and improving skills.

Some might think that external factors can boost intrinsic motivation, but research suggests the opposite it true: too many extrinsic rewards reduce intrinsic motivation.

Bottom line: to stay motivated as an athlete, you need to focus on intrinsic motivation. Here are five strategies that can help.

1. For Love Of The Game: Nothing cures a listless workout like remembering why you’re in the gym in the first place. Every athlete has bad days; to get over the hump, think about why you love your sport. “Think back to those early experiences in your sport that just make you smile,” suggests Eggleston.

2. Change It Up: Practicing the same drills and training the same way every day can sap your motivation. So mix things up. Try a different type of training that gets you out of the gym. Conduct your individual practice sessions somewhere other than your usual venue. Or take a breather from your sport and embrace cross-training by playing something recreationally with your friends [read how cross-training can make you better].

3. Have Fun: Dwight Howard comes to mind as a pro athlete who enjoys his sport. Go to a local playground and play some three-on-three basketball with your friends, or challenge a goalie one-on-one using only trick shots. Whatever you do, don’t forget that sports are fun.

4. Avoid Comparisons: You’re not Michael Jordan, Jim Brown or Hank Aaron. You’re you. Try not to stress out after a bad day or because a teammate played better than you. “Being jealous or envious of others will only make you feel bad about yourself,” says Eggleston. “You should work on constantly improving yourself and capitalizing on your own strengths and working on your own challenges.”

5. Win: Yeah, we know. Easier said than done. But because winning is so difficult, it’s the ultimate source of intrinsic motivation. Nothing makes an athlete feel better than walking off the field of play after a hard-earned victory.  But think about the small triumphs too, like successfully completing a drill without error or repping out a personal best on a difficult exercise. Think of them as “wins” to keep yourself motivated as you continue to chase your ultimate goal.

Eggleston says, “True success is measured by consistently competing and staying motivated over the years.” One game or event does not make or break an athlete. Focusing on intrinsic motivation will keep you motivated throughout your career.

Source:  podiumsportsjournal.com
Photo:  zimbio.com

Joe Baur
- Joe Baur is a certified personal trainer with a bachelor's degree in mass communication from Miami University [Oxford, OH]. He became certified with the National...
Joe Baur
- Joe Baur is a certified personal trainer with a bachelor's degree in mass communication from Miami University [Oxford, OH]. He became certified with the National...

Featured Videos

Tim Tebow's NFL Off-Season Workout Tim Tebow's NFL Off-Season Workout Views: 153,019
Path to the Pros 2015: Trae Waynes Path to the Pros 2015: Trae Waynes Views: 80,502
Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Views: 1,270,518
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 43,626,320
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 12,170,372
Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout
Views: 896,683
Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill
Views: 6,866,256
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,501,395

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
The Athletic Brain: How to Learn to Anticipate

The Athletic Brain: How to Learn to Anticipate

Mental Warm-Up: How to Build Confidence Before a Game

Mental Warm-Up: How to Build Confidence Before a Game

Positive Affirmations for Athletes

Positive Affirmations for Athletes

Build Mental Toughness in the Weight Room

Build Mental Toughness in the Weight Room

Overcome the 5 Most Common Mental Mistakes in Sports

Overcome the 5 Most Common Mental Mistakes in Sports

How Mentally Tough Are You?

How Mentally Tough Are You?

Does Home Field Actually Confer an Advantage?

Does Home Field Actually Confer an Advantage?

Stress Exposure Training for Basketball

Stress Exposure Training for Basketball

4 Reasons Your Team Is Losing

4 Reasons Your Team Is Losing

Why Athletes Must Focus on Developing Their Own Identity

Why Athletes Must Focus on Developing Their Own Identity

Home Field Advantage Is Real, Says Science

Home Field Advantage Is Real, Says Science

Using Sports Imagery as Pre-Performance Routine

Using Sports Imagery as Pre-Performance Routine

4 Tips for Building Confidence

4 Tips for Building Confidence

A Coach Describes What It’s Like to Cut Players

A Coach Describes What It's Like to Cut Players

Why You Should Be Training Instead of Exercising

Why You Should Be Training Instead of Exercising

The One Word You Should Never Say to Yourself

The One Word You Should Never Say to Yourself

How Mental Flexibility Boosts Your Game

How Mental Flexibility Boosts Your Game

Can a Faster Brain Increase Sports Performance?

Can a Faster Brain Increase Sports Performance?

Regain Your Confidence by Getting BIG

Regain Your Confidence by Getting BIG

Study: Athletes Think Faster, More Accurately Than Non-Athletes

Study: Athletes Think Faster, More Accurately Than Non-Athletes

5 Tips to Becoming a Successful Athlete

5 Tips to Becoming a Successful Athlete

How Clayton Kershaw Gets in the Zone

How Clayton Kershaw Gets in the Zone

Overcome Your Fear of Failure

Overcome Your Fear of Failure

How to Improve Mental Focus on the Baseball Diamond

How to Improve Mental Focus on the Baseball Diamond

How Mental Performance Affects Your Workouts

How Mental Performance Affects Your Workouts

What's Your Backup Plan When 'Plan A' Fails?

What's Your Backup Plan When 'Plan A' Fails?

Q&A: How to Deal With a Tough Coach

Q&A: How to Deal With a Tough Coach

3 Strategies to Reduce Stress and Increase Athletic Performance

3 Strategies to Reduce Stress and Increase Athletic Performance

Tips for Keeping a Tennis Journal

Tips for Keeping a Tennis Journal

Get Tough on Your Goals to Get Fit

Get Tough on Your Goals to Get Fit

5 Tips for Playing Mentally Tough Tennis

5 Tips for Playing Mentally Tough Tennis

Unlock Your Full Athletic Potential

Unlock Your Full Athletic Potential

6 Ways Sport Parents Are Doing It Wrong

6 Ways Sport Parents Are Doing It Wrong

The Holistic Approach to Impactful Sports Coaching

The Holistic Approach to Impactful Sports Coaching

Growth Mindset: How to Think Like a Champion

Growth Mindset: How to Think Like a Champion

Use Sports Psychology Against Your Opponents

Use Sports Psychology Against Your Opponents

The Art of Strength and Conditioning Coaching

The Art of Strength and Conditioning Coaching

How to 'Keep Your Cool' on the Football Field

How to 'Keep Your Cool' on the Football Field

5 Steps to Becoming a Better Coach

5 Steps to Becoming a Better Coach

YardBarker