Campbell Asst. Peter Thomas – Motivation must come from within

Peter Thomas, National Coaches’ Diary (

Motivation is a key ingredient for success in any endeavor.  Motivation comes in different forms.  For salesmen, motivation might come in the form of commissions.  For employees or volunteers in a nonprofit organization, motivation usually stems from a belief in the cause.  For a dieter, motivation may be driven by a desire to decrease the risk of health problems or to change physical appearance.  The list of goals and motivations is endless.

As a coach, one of the most obvious motivations to do your job well every day is the desire to win.  As part of your job, one of the most important tasks you have is to keep your team motivated.  Coaches are constantly coming up with creative ways to motivate their teams.  For example, a coach might invite someone outside the team, like an army general or a famous alumnus from the university, to speak to the team to inspire them.  Coaches often use “bulletin board material,” or negative quotes by others about their team, to fuel their players.  Coaches will also use positive, famous quotes about work ethic, leadership, togetherness, and unselfishness to help motivate their teams.  Occasionally a coach might show an inspirational documentary or a classic movie scene in the film room to fire up his team.  There are countless motivational tactics that coaches use throughout the season to pick a team up when they are down or keep a team driving for success when things are going well.

All of these motivational tactics are useful and they can be the difference in a game here and there.  However, a great pregame speech only takes a team so far.  The passion that a movie inspires or the anger a negative article incites is only temporary.  Often, the motivation gained from a positive quote about leadership or the words of an alumnus is fleeting.  A team that singly draws its motivation from these tactics can be fragile and dependent upon external elements for success.  A coach’s greatest challenge in terms of motivation is to instill a desire to be good and to win in his players that is internalized by them such that it becomes a constant motivating force and an undertone to everything that they do.

At Campbell, we are working to instill the desire to be good and to win every day in our players so that it can become the foundation of who we are and what drives us, and so that it is the source from which we consistently find our motivation.  We want our guys to compete to win in every drill during practice.  One tactic to motivate guys to compete is to have the losers run sprints.  The guys don’t like to run sprints so this tactic proves to be fairly effective.  However, just like some of the motivational tactics already mentioned, an external punishment for losing has diminishing returns.  We want the desire to win, rather than the desire to avoid running, to be the underlying motivating factor in every drill and competition in practice.

Another example of a motivational tactic utilized during the season is to challenge the team after a loss.  We, just like most coaches, will challenge our team after a loss and try to use that loss to motivate us to win the next game.  This strategy for motivation is also effective, but just like running sprints, cannot sustain motivation over time.  We want our guys to want to win the next game not because we lost the previous game, but because we have instilled a fundamental desire to win that ultimately motivates us each game, each film session, each lift, and each practice.

Motivation comes in many forms and coaches must decide what tactics of motivation are appropriate for their teams.  Motivational ploys can excite a team for a big game or help them rebound from a tough loss.  However, I believe that coaches must concentrate on instilling an intrinsic desire to be good and to win in their players from which they can draw daily motivation.  When the internal motivation to win is established, then all the other motivational tactics become quick reminders of that desire to win and can bring out the best in a team in the right moments.

Peter Thomas

Campbell Basketball

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s