Inspiration is not always easy to come by.
Every coach faces practices, games, weeks, and seasons where young athletes lack motivation.
Some kids have a strong internal drive that makes them easy to lead. However, the majority of athletes will regularly struggle with:
- Lack of confidence
So how do you EFFECTIVELY keep motivating and pushing athletes to work hard?
Let’s take a look at 5 specific ways to tap into the inspiration that an older graduated athlete can provide.
1) Share a Personal Journey
Everyone loves a story. Add to that the cool-factor that most older athletes have and you’ve got a perfect formula to capture everyone’s attention.
Invite graduated athletes to come to practice and share their personal experience of sports participation. If they went on to compete after graduation, encourage them to be transparent about the struggles and victories involved in collegiate sports.
Prompt them to answer questions like:
- What is one lesson that was challenging for you to learn
- Do you have any regrets about your attitude toward participation/skill-learning/work ethic
- Could you share your favorite high school sports memory
2) Encourage Strugglers
“A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise during success.”
There is great power in a well-placed word of encouragement. And when it comes from a respected athlete, it can have a tremendous impact on one that is struggling.
Invite a past athlete to come and WATCH a practice. Ask him to specifically encourage any athlete that seems to be struggling with a skill.
Confidence-boosting comments are usually:
- Specific—addressing one thing in particular
- Realistic—not gushy or for the sake of flattery
- Uplifting—focused on a can-do attitude
3) Compliment Skills Executed Well
A new set of eyes on an executed skill might catch something that a coach could be taking for granted. And we all know that hearing a compliment from someone other than the coach goes a long way in the self-esteem bank account.
Urge the older athlete to:
- Be specific about what she acknowledges as being done well
- Be authentic in her praise
- Direct her compliment toward 1 athlete—which will hold more weight than if it’s directed at the whole team
4) Give Insider Tips
Who doesn’t want the inside scoop from someone who’s been there and done that? Valuable tips that come from a place of firsthand experience are always more relatable.
Since older athletes have probably dealt with similar challenges as your current athletes let them have time with the whole team to share their “insider tips.” Here are some creative ways to have the graduate athlete do this:
- Have a question and answer session
- Communicate best “hacks” for balancing school and sports
- Give tips and tricks to staying positive in the face of defeat
5) Point to the Future
So much mystery surrounds life after high school. And athletes in their senior year will have many decisions to make in what seems like a short amount of time.
Someone who has graduated and is on “the other side” successfully developing their sports-skills while attending college can be an excellent incentive for those wondering about their own path.
Inspire your team by having a graduate share:
- The strategies they took to become scholarship-worthy
- 5 things they love about collegiate sports
- 10 character traits they think are important for every high school student to work on
A Win-Win Scenario
Calling upon the stars of yesterday to help inspire the stars of tomorrow is a true win-win scenario.
- Coaches have their message and efforts validated.
- Current athletes are emboldened to keep working hard.
- Graduated athletes step into “hero status” for the day and get to give back.
As a coach was this helpful? Take a moment to jot down the names of 3 graduated athletes you could contact to help you inspire your team. Commit to reaching out to them in the next week.
As always remember that Growing Champions For Life is here to help. Message me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org