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April 4 – Motivating your Athletes for Significant Improvement in the Off-Season Part 1

April 4 – Motivating your Athletes for Significant Improvement in the Off-Season Part 1

The following article is written by Spencer Wood.

Before your athletes get too far into the Summer break, it is important that they consider and write down their greatest hopes and greatest fears for next season, in terms of their own performance and for how the team may perform next season. This is much more than just listing goals. The exercise is a deep exploration of their greatest hopes and deepest fears connected to their performance and their team’s performance for the coming season, and it is a great individual or team exercise that should take about 30 minutes. Practice and commitment bridges the gaps between these hopes and fears. The more we practice, the more we move towards achieving our hopes, and the less we practice, the closer we get to realizing our fears, and it is the daily recognition and reminder of these hopes and fears that can provide the motivational rocket fuel to get into the gym, court, track, pool or field and get the necessary work done.

While we certainly do not want athletes completely focused on their fears so much so that the fears take the form of debilitating and anxiety provoking daily ‘avoidance’ goals in their mind, it is important to realize the role that our deepest fears and our deepest hopes play in motivation. A great essayist once wrote “When the heart is captured, impossibilities vanish.” The goal of the “greatest hopes and fears for next season” exercise is to capture the heart of the athlete. The keys to have motivated athletes who are working hard and maximizing their potential and improvement throughout the Summer are:

  1. Each athlete completes the “greatest hopes and fears for next season” on an exercise sheet (again athletes can complete this exercise individually or in a team session where each athlete can read their answers to the rest of the team). One great heart capturing hope should be listed relative to the individual athlete’s performance for next year and one hope for the team, and then one heart devastating fear should be listed relative to the individual athlete’s performance for next year and one major fear for the team.
  1. Have the athlete post the sheet where it can be seen daily throughout the Summer
  1. Have a great practice plan in place for each of your athletes so that they know exactly what they are doing, how they can score/measure the results, how they can track improvements, and what their quantifiable performance goals are for each day of the practice plan.

Read Part 2 tomorrow…

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