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Goal Setting and Self-Motivation

Goal Setting and Self-Motivation

What is self-motivation?  Athletes who are self-motivated take part in sports for the pure enjoyment of it.  They do not need rewards to participate.  To succeed in your sport, it’s important that you love to play or perform. It’s not a good idea to take part in sports because you want to make others happy–your parents, coaches or peers, for example.

When you have a real passion for the game, you’ll have more staying power and feel more committed to sports over time. Dan Coyle, author of the book, “The Talent Code: Greatness isn’t born. It’s Grown,” says passion works in your brain like rocket fuel. It makes learning fast and fun.

In addition to playing because YOU want to play, you should learn how to set your own goals. This will help you improve faster. Your parents or coaches can help you set goals, but your goals should be YOUR goals and not ones that others set for you. You’ll have a better chance at reaching your goals when you create them and commit to them.

Sports psychology research shows that “external” rewards—rewards that come from the outside, rather than from what’s inside you—don’t help sports kid with self-motivation. If kids play only to get trophies, medals, money or other external rewards, they’ll be less motivated when those rewards aren’t offered to them. In other words, it’s a bad idea to play sports just to get trophies, medals and other prizes.

The key to being self-motivated is to focus on what excites you about playing and performing. You might play sports to be with friends, be part of a group, for the competition or to gain social support.

One way to help you become more self-motivated is to set goals and stay committed to reaching your goals. You can do this is by creating and signing a commitment contract. A commitment contract is a written statement or series of statements that you promise to follow. For example, you might include in your contract, “I want to improve my backhand shot, and will work on this at least two hours a week.”

These statements can identify your personal or practice goals. Have your parents or coach sign the commitment contract to help you monitor your progress. The contract should be placed somewhere you can see it–a bedroom or kitchen, for example–so you are reminded of your goals each day.

Setting goals is critical to your success as athletes in both sports and life.  It’s important that you stay committed to evaluating and changing your goals when needed. You may find that you’ve reached one goal, and now need to set a higher goal. Or you may find that the goal you set wasn’t reasonable, and you need to aim for something a little easier.


  1. Awesome thanks!

  2. What about the children who have no motivation and hate sport? It’s compulsory, how can we get them into a positive mindset?

    • Hey Maddy,

      I noticed your website so I am curios if the children in question have autism. If so I have experience as a BSC and would be able to better address your question with that information. Here are a few tips to help children who have a lack of motivation and dislike sports embrace a more positive approach.

      First try to find out the source of the child’s lack of motivation. Are they over weight and tier easy? If so physical discomfort may be a cause. Are they always playing video games, watching tv, or on the computer? If so preoccupation may be the issue. Are they bullied? If so a fear a failure or avoidance for social approval reasons may be the issue.

      One you narrow down the underlining sources it makes it easy to help the child overcome it.

      If they are not motivated by sports there are other ways to motivate them to be active. Games such as tag, going swimming or going to the playground introduce children to a more active lifestyle. Take baby steps and incorporate something they enjoy into the activity. Use positive reinforcement and rewards at first. For example kids do not like vegetables but growing up my parents would not let me have a snack unless I ate them, so I did.

      To get an unmotivated kid into an positive mindset about sports you need to be creative. Incorporate friends and the the child’s interests. Also, when they do participate praise them and encourage them to continue. If you have a breakthrough and find an activity the child enjoys be sure to set another time and date to do the same activity. This was the child will look forward to it and remember how much fun they had!

      I hope this helps. When helping a child who is resistant remember it is important to say motivated yourself!

    • dinner sometime?

  3. i love you mike

  4. The most important thing is to believe in yourself and to not let people tell you what you can and what you can’t do. When you are doing something you like you are doing it with passion. Keep pushing forward and the results will come. Sometimes when I need inspiration I play some motivational videos. Here I found a good compilation http://hardquotes.com/life-motivation/motivational-videos-or-how-to-summon-courage .

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