Besides the mental and physical challenges athletes are facing in the world today, there is one particular obstacle that has been difficult to overcome. How to go about game/event days, knowing the gym looks just like any other practice day? I’ll give you a hint, and it is called intrinsic motivation.
When the purpose, challenge, and thought of an idea or action is your driving force, you know that motivation comes from inside. Intrinsic motivation is when the desire to improve is natural and when longing to wake up the next morning to continue working towards your goals. Intrinsic motivation is not when you get excited from a big crowd/audience and what people around you tell you. Intrinsic motivation triggers within you, not from factors around you.
Now, let’s talk about how to keep an athlete intrinsically motivated throughout the season. First of all, the athlete always has to keep in mind what their WHY is. I cannot stress this enough, but the WHY is the reason for everything, and it is the stem of your inner motivation. Second of all, the athlete has to focus on improving their performance, getting 1% better each day and continuously reminding themselves to only compare their performance to them, no one else. When athletes start comparing themselves to others, they fail and get on the wrong mental path. Third of all, goalsetting. I have talked about goal setting several times, and I believe that’s what keeps us progressing. Forth of all, staying positive, fueling your own energy bus, blocking out energy vampires and keeping the eyes on the road, not allowing distractions to make you take detours. Fifth and last of all, being mindful, being aware of where you are now, where you want to be and what you’re going to do to get to where you want to be.
It is important to remember that the athlete becomes successful due to their efforts, skills, work ethic, mentality, and great intrinsic motivation. Professional athletes often have a lot of time to think about their performance, but as significant as it is to think about that, it is equally essential to take a break sometimes. Have other hobbies and not only define yourself as an athlete. The reason is the pressure overload that the athlete puts on. It is a lot easier to make 1000 shots in 20-minute segments during a week than in 2 hours. If you only have 2 hours to complete the 1000 made shots, you do not have time to take breaks, recover, or analyze your shots. However, if you split up the shots into 20-minute segments, you can recover, analyze, and perhaps become better than if you only shot for 2 hours one day.
Remember, having hobbies outside of the court/field/gym can help you recover quicker. How? They are a healthy distraction that will help you shift between work and home; you’ll notice that you become more dialed in when it is time to “go to work.” Spending too much time contemplating, studying, and analyzing your game can make you run into a wall or not get anywhere because you become blind to what is right in front of you. Dare to have other hobbies, and your love for the game will become stronger as well.
Until next week, find your intrinsic motivation and write down on a piece of paper what you are going to do when you face adversity. How you’re going to get over being homesick, and something that will help you get out of bed when all you want is to stay there for the rest of the week 😉