Motivation for Athletes
Written by Dave Gannaway
The fierce competition in track and field is an area where motivation for athletes is very valuable. Winning or losing can be just micro-seconds apart. The levels of fitness and sporting techniques are at their peak within the top few. The winners can come down to the athlete who has the greatest degree of motivation. Those who are able to get into the ‘zone’ and awaken those dormant energies (that so few are aware of) usually win the race.
Achieving peak physical fitness has been well researched and brought to the awareness of all notable coaches and athletes. The know-how of what that takes in well known. They have machines to measure everything at the physical level. Their cloths, equipment, diets and supplements and training régimes etc., are constantly under focus to keep them abreast of technology. But it’s the motivation of the individual athlete, that still hold that secret edge. There are many mysteries and secrets that lie untapped, beyond our physical awareness. The great boxer, Mohamed Ali, has been claimed as a genius of self motivation, and that he was light years ahead of his time.
I have spent a lot of time on motivation for athletes. I have worked with professional athletes who were desperate for that motivational that would lift them above the rest. Many having briefly experienced those magical moments of being in the ‘zone’, but were unable to identify or re-access it at will. It’s like a tantalizing dream that you know was so great, yet you just can’t remember it. And the harder you try, the further you seem to push it away.
Some of the more experienced athletes instinctively know that it will kick-in when the moment arrives and they trust that it will. And, strangely it often does. Yet they have no idea what it is or where it comes from or how to access it. Some say the energy of the big occasion lifts motivation levels, and I’m sure it does … just watch the world records fall at the Olympic Games. But it’s those athletes who understand and are able access that ‘zone’ for themselves who become the shining stars.
One of the keys to motivation for athletes is the ability to focus on a single issue or goal is a sure way to maximize your motivation. There is a paradoxical belief that once an athlete can achieve (and hold) an intense level of focus and then they can just ‘stop trying’ and let go. He/She is then, truly in the zone, ‘out of time’ and beyond their consciousness. Like a car engine that works very hard to reach its optimum speed and that extra gear that clicks in, automatically increasing its performance with little extra effort.
I recall an Olympic 100 meters sprinter that I worked with. In the moments before the race, he would keep his focus on the euphoria of winning. He wanted to know where the TV cameras were placed, and how he would look in those moments of triumph. Even the expression on his face and the posture of his body as crossed the winning line. He considered overcoming the fierce competitors he was running against. Before the race, and in training, he would visualize his competitors physically smaller than himself. In his minds-eye he would see them struggling to get anywhere close to his performance. All the while, he himself was generating total confidence over his success.
These various motivational techniques demanded considerable discipline and practice. It was a technique that took a great deal of working out and testing to perfect. There is no free lunch. True motivation for athletes is as important to success as his physical condition. It is only when the competitor him/her self fully understands this that they truly begin to succeed.
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