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Player Motivation

The Art of Coaching Basketball


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Player Motivation

What Coaches Can Do To Improve Player Motivation

Player Motivation

Basketball, with its immediate feedback, is unique in that it is the only sport that you can enjoy for hours by yourself at any age. All you need is a ball, and a hoop. With other sports such as football, soccer and baseball, you may kick or throw the ball for a while before giving up and quitting. However, with basketball, you can, and will, shoot as long as your heart desires.

All great coaches, past and present, all have one thing in common, They are all great motivators. They inspire their players to become the best that they are capable of becoming. They have the ability to motivate their players to do things they don’t like to do, and like it. It is the coach’s primary responsibility and job to motivate and encourage all of their players to be determined to constantly learn, improve and to be the best that they can be on and off the court. Without desire and determination to improve, all of the other mental factors are meaningless.


Motivation is the force that initiates, guides and maintains behavior and habits. It is what causes everyone to get started. The key to getting motivated is to make it easy to get started. However, it is much easier to finish a task that it is to start it. Most players struggle and find it difficult to generate the motivation needed to get started and achieve their goals. However, if they have a schedule, they will generate the willpower and desire. Having schedules also makes decision making automatic.

Motivation can be either intrinsic (a self-curiosity or desire to know) or extrinsic (a definite or must need to know). In basketball, self or intrinsic motivation is the most effective and long lasting. Player motivation can be also influenced by reward and punishment. However, both reward and punishment are more harmful than helpful. They are temporary and counterproductive. Once reward or punishment is no longer provided, behavior reverts back to its original state. As a result, in basketball, it is much better for players to be self-motivated anxiously looking forward to practicing rather than to fear going to practice.

Motivation Competitive Edge

Motivation improves a player’s:

  • Desire and Effort
  • Determination and Persistence
  • Intellectual & Mental Learning
  • Initiative & Resourcefulness

Warning signs of non-motivated players:

  • Preferences: Making one choice over another, such as watching TV instead of doing homework.
  • Resistance: The longer the time it takes to do a task, the less one is motivated.
  • Enthusiasm: Less effort indicates less motivation.
  • Determination: The quicker a player gives up, the less motivated.
  • Negative Expressions: The more signs of displeasure, the less motivation.
Player appreciation

Player motivation is definitely enhanced when coaches:

  • Possess a positive attitude using the four E’s of basketball (Energy, Effort, Enthusiasm, & Enjoyment).
  • Value All Efforts. Appreciate and recognize all efforts big or small.
  • Keep All Players Involved. The more involved, the more they feel useful and appreciated.
  • Use Incentives. Praise and recognize good & positive efforts.
  • Change Things Up. It keeps players from getting bored. Be creative and include fun and games.
  • Explain “Why.” Tell them why it is so important.
  • Do not talk down. It makes players feel stupid, slow, useless and upset.
  • Help manage anxiety. Young players have a hard time staying motivated because they are worried about failure. ESPN adds to this by only showing successful shots and plays.
  • Show players how to be motivated. Explain the reasons and benefits in wanting to learn.
  • Set realistic expectations. It takes seven years to develop individual basketball skills. As a basketball player you never stop learning.
Misleading players & parents

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Coming Next:

Player Learning Styles


Art of Teaching Basketball Series
#1Coaching, Life Skills, Keys to SuccessTap Here to View
#2Legal LiabilitiesTap Here to View
#3Major Medical EmergenciesTap Here to View
#4Motivation & LearningTap Here to View
#5Player Learning StylesTap Here to view
#6Motor Skill LearningTap Here to View
#7Game of HabitsTap Here to View
#8Changing Bad Habits8/18/2020
#9Goal Setting & Season Review8/25/2020


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