Keeping your athletes motivated can be a driving factor to success. More importantly, keeping them motivated will keep these young athletes playing the game of lacrosse. Motivation for a sport like lacrosse ties into having fun and being confident. So, when you are trying to make sure you keep your team motivated all year, make sure that you are keeping lacrosse exciting for these athletes, and always make sure they do not get too down on themselves, or the game in general. At practices and games for the whole season, set achievable goals to keep athletes moving towards.
An important time to keep athletes motivated is practice. One great way to keep your athletes motivated is the way practices are run. You should always have a plan for practice and never just wing it. It is important to not just run the same drills every single practice, and to switch up drills throughout the year, focusing on simpler drills in the beginning to harder drills by the end of the year. This will not only will challenge and keep your athletes engaged but motivate them to get better every week and perfect each drill as the season continues. Switching up the drills also keeps the athletes having fun which is crucial for participation in youth sports.
As you go through more practices and new drills, it is very important to focus on how you talk to your athletes and your overall body language. Kids and parents pick up on this very easily and this alone can keep your athletes motivated. Always be energetic and enthusiastic as this will rub off on the kids. When a drill is not going well or kids are messing up a lot, lift them back up. Don’t insult them or try and use negative reinforcement to motivate them. But tell them they can do it or remind them they have done it before and try and instill the confidence back into themselves.
An even better way to do this is to personalize it. Individualize feedback to each kid and find out their personal motivators. So, when you talk to one athlete, or try and lift back up that one athlete’s confidence, they really feel that you care about them and want to see them succeed.
One important way to keep your athletes motivated when it comes to games is by the competition you face. It is very important in sports to be playing the right competition as if your team wins or is competitive in only one game all year, it is easy for morale to drop. Finding good tournaments, leagues, or even good scrimmages can really motivate your athletes and keep them having fun. At these competitions, promoting teamwork has proven very effective to keep your athletes motivated. Because if one athlete messes up, as everyone will, knowing your team can help or cover your error will motivate your entire team to success. Not only will your athletes not want to let the team down, but they will want to lift their teammates up.
Talking at games and the way you coach is very important just like at practice. Use phrases like “good hustle,” “nice effort,” or “great positioning” when players may miss a play to keep their confidence and motivation up for their next chance. Stay enthusiastic all game and win or lose, motivate your team to get better every game.
After a win, give credit to players, and the entire team and tell them what they did great. After positive recognition, show the team what we can do better as a whole to win even easier next game. Do not individually call out athletes on what they should have done better right after a win as this can take away from a win in their mind.
As a coach, it’s best to remember that each loss is a learning opportunity for the whole team. Take time to highlight great gameplay, but also remind them that losing provides the opportunity to do better next time. After you identify what parts of the game plan worked, listen to your team on what they think could work better in the games to follow.
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