Motivating Kids: Myths & Truths #4

26 04 2010

This is the forth of a 5-part series on Motivation Myths:

Motivational Myth #1: Kids need to be motivated. (See 4/7/10 blog entry)

Motivational Myth #2: Rewards are what motivate kids. (See 4/8/10 blog entry)

Motivational Myth #3: Lectures motivate kids. (See 4/14/10 blog entry)

Motivational Myth #4: Hype motivates kids.

Motivation Myth number 4 is the hype myth. The more work I do with teams and coaches the more I realize that we have bought into the idea that we need to get our kids pumped, hyped, and excited. We hear inspirational speeches, pre-game talks in an attempt to get everybody psyched up. The beverage companies have also bought into this with the rise in the sheer numbers of “Energy Drinks” that have come on the market. We need to be careful not to buy into the idea that more hype, intensity, and energy is best for everybody.  Rarely, do you see people who execute excellently under pressure overly hyped or excited in the moment.

On each team there will be a percentage of players that need to relax because they are too intense. Their abundance of intensity often creates a lack of awareness leaving them virtually blind to the more detailed aspects of the game. These players work hard but often move right past the opportunity to score, or finish a play.  Coaches often refer to these types of players as ones that are in constant motion without much impact on the game. Being able to create a consistent level of intensity leading to the ability to pounce on opportunities as they reveal themselves is what leads not only to success but consistent play based on the learning that is acquired through practice and experience.  Certainly, there are players that require jolt of energy. These players often appear almost to relaxed. For some it may take an entire first part of the game to finally find their flow. This type of player usually needs to engage their mind in something clear and attainable. It isn’t hype or excitement needed; it is a clearly defined goal that can be self-monitored.

Helping our athletes utilize useful energy that results from a clearly communicated set of expectations with regular personalized feedback provides the necessary self-motivation that can be sustained over time. Creating hype and over excited athletes does nothing but distract them and leads them to perform in inconsistent and impulsive ways.

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