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Thursday, April 16, 2009

MOTIVATING YOUR TOP PLAYERS

The first thing is to understand that motivation can not be very high all the time. The season is very long and the players can not always function at their maximum potential. Thus, it is normal that their motivation fluctuates, being higher or lower depending upon different circumstances. Therefore, the task of the coach and his assistants is not to keep motivation very high all the time. They need to learn how to efficiently handle the fluctuations in motivation, knowing the periods in which an "extra boost" in motivation is needed for the benefit of the team performance.

In general, coaches must adopt measures to strengthen a good and stable level of individual interest for the common goals of the team ("basic motivation"), and to use specific strategies to improve "daily motivation" for practices and games when this is appropriate.

Individual meetings between the coach and the players are convenient ways to enhance and strengthen basic individual motivation. These meetings should not take place very often and should consist of a good give-and-take between coach and player. By this I mean it should not consist of the coach doing all the talking and the player just listening. Rather, the coach should ask, listen and negotiate to achieve common conclusions, which may positively affect the player's motivation.

In general, it is a big mistake of many coaches to ignore players' interests, opinions and feelings, especially when they are experienced top players. The coach should not give up the great opportunity of considering the experience of each of his players. Further, through listening to the players and making them feel that they are understood and considered, players will be more involved and committed to the team.

The coach should know and understand the individual interests of each of hIs players, and be able to negotiate with them, so they feel that by helpING the team they will fulfil their own personal goals. This interaction between team and individual interests is the most crucial factor needed to enhance and strengthen team and individual motivation and performance.

From Assist (Fiba Magazine)
By Jose Maria Buceta
Dr. in Psychology and Professor of Psychology
UNED University of Spain