Motivation is one of those really interesting topics.
Have you ever done something that you really, really loved doing? I’m sure there’s something in your life that got you fired up and excited and you just spent all of your time and focus doing it, learning it, trying it out.
That’s REAL motivation.
I am going to call that natural motivation. Initially when I read about motivation being connected with passion and doing something you loved, I was skeptical.
Yet, the more I took notice for myself about what motivated me, the more I notice it is true.
When I’m doing something that I am passionate about, really love and want to be doing, then you can’t stop me being engaged in that thing.
You’ve seen your child spend hours and hours working on one drill. Practicing it over and over and over again. You’re probably wondering how they can spend so much time doing it.
Well it’s motivation or passion, or whatever you want to label it.
It’s the thing that makes time stand still, because you know yourself that when you are in this zone of being totally focused and engrossed in what you’re doing, time just disappears.
This is the motivation we want to foster in our athletes.
That natural joy and excitement and doing something THEY really want to be doing. This is 100% about their pleasure and enjoyment.
Now, let’s flip the switch.
When Motivation Isn't Natural
Imagine you take that joy, excitement and enjoyment and all of a sudden what they are doing becomes a chore, something they think they HAVE to do.
What changes? Do you notice they no longer spend hours at a time doing that drill? They seem unenthusiastic to do the simplest things?
The reason for this is because all of the joy and excitement has gone out of what they are doing. Feeling motivated to do something because it matters to someone else, for example the Coach, or you.
Maybe they think someone will be disappointed if they don’t make the travelling squad, but deep down it’s not really what they want to do.
And yes, you might say to be this seems to be focusing on the negative aspect of motivation. Well, it is. Because where there is true, natural motivation you see it. You feel it in the way they come home from school and grab their stick and puck and head outside to practice.
You notice how they play on the ice, excited and laughing and having fun.
I don’t know how many times I hear NHL players talk about having fun when they play. They are motivated to do what they love doing, playing hockey.
And it is just as true that you can watch the moment they try to be more motivated and stop enjoying what they’re doing, their game suffers.
Pressure, something that I’ve spoken about in other posts, is one thing that sucks the enjoyment factor out of playing or practicing. If your child puts pressure on themselves it will sap their natural motivation to have fun and play.
Watch For the Signs Of a Drop In Motivation
Watch for any signs of their natural motivation dropping. Pay attention to their body language and how they go to practice, or hit the ice. You will see if they are truly motivated by their own love of what they are doing, or whether there is something else driving it.
Have a conversation about how they are feeling about their game, or playing. Listen for any underlying comments about not having fun or enjoying playing anymore. Maybe you could have a discussion about where they have the most fun. What is it they do that they love the most about their play?
This might just turn around any unnatural motivation that may be creeping in.
Karen Cherrett is a Sports Mindset Coach who specializes in coaching hockey players. Karen coaches players to be more focused and play with ease, not stress. And their parents to support their child in the best possible way. Life playing hockey should be fun. Mindset matters. Mental health matters. Hockey should be fun, not emotionally overloading.