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5 helpful tips for motivating your young athlete

how to motivate your young athlete - baxter sportsSummer is here! School is out! Don’t let your aspiring young athlete lose her momentum just because the structure of school or the formal team is on break.

This is a great time for your son or daughter to learn excellent self-motivational skills and improve techniques in a less stressful setting. The rewards of keeping up activity and form over the holiday months will pay back huge dividends when the new seasons restarts in the Fall. Your daughter will feel confident about her skills; your son will feel more confident about his mental game. You will feel like this Summer was a great success!

Kinds of motivation

Most coaches agree that there are two kinds of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. This is a fancy way of saying that your young athlete wants to go out and play either because he loves the game for his own enjoyment (intrinsic) or because he thinks he has to (extrinsic).

One motivator is not more or less important than another. The key is to find what is more important to your child. Does he pick up the basketball every morning because he just loves the game; does he pick it up because he wants to make Varsity next year? Chances are it is a little of both. And this Summer, you can help him understand and use both of these types of motivating factors to his advantage.

4 M’s of motivation

A Learning Specialist at Norfolk State University recently came up with the 4 M’s of Motivation: Mission; Move; Momentum; Mindset.

We want to empower you to set your child on a path to success by finding a reason to play (Mission), planning to succeed (Move), keeping up the good work (Momentum), and believing in themselves (Mindset). Our 5 tips here draw from these M’s and help you and your young athlete make a game plan and win!

1. Give it a name

Take some time to talk with your son or daughter about what motivates them.

Are they driven by more intrinsic or extrinsic factors? You may think you know the answer. They may think they know the answer!

But we are sure that if you talk about it, you’ll be able to find out a bit more about what gets them on the field. They might realize something new about themselves as well. Sometimes simply saying out loud how much she loves soccer or how much he loves track can fill in any doubts students may have fostered about their passion.

Or maybe letting you know that they think they have a chance to make the varsity baseball team next year will help you better support that goal.

2. Quote it

Your child has an athletic hero. Whose stats do they know by heart? Whose penalty kick do they practice all day long?

Encourage your child to have a go-to quote from that player for those What-Would-Michael-Jordan-Do moments. Encourage them to hang the quote somewhere they will see it a lot – maybe put it on a planner, hang it on a door, make a tag and attach it to their duffel bag that they bring to practice every day.

This will let that hero’s motivating words be with them whenever they start to play or finish up after a long practice or game.

3. Take it on the field

Make sure your child has teammates this Summer! Even if it is not a formal team, playing with other kids not only improves their skills, but it also improves their overall happiness.

Social interaction makes us all happier, whether in life or at school. This is the same on the court and on the field. Developing greater interpersonal skills on the team and drawing motivation from those around them will make your child a better player no matter what.

They will find new reasons and ways to love their sport; they might even discover new extrinsic motivators or share theirs with their new friends.

4. Talk it through

After practice or after the game, talk through at least one great moment and at least one moment where there is something still to learn. (Never let the negative outweigh the positives.)

By identifying successes on a daily basis, your young player can find motivation to improve plays or techniques that were not as successful that day. In other words, let each achievement be the positive catalyst that encourages your son or daughter to push through anything he or she might view as less successful.

Connect the dots from success to motivation for greater success next time as soon as it happens.

5. Remind them they are awesome!

Perhaps the most influential, extrinsic motivating factor in your child’s life is you! Your words pick them up on a bad day and encourage them to succeed.

You can help them believe in themselves by believing in them first and always. If you want to motivate your child, tell them they are awesome! Give them words of encouragement that are realistic, but heartfelt.

Let her know how proud you are of that basket she made in the second half; tell him how impressed you are by his passing skills. Whether or not they ever tell you, they’ll thank you on the inside for motivating them to be better on the outside.

So let this Summer be a motivational Summer! From improving their technical game by playing with new Summer teammates to improving their mental game by helping them find the space to better understand themselves, you can help make your child’s Summer off-season the best season.