We challenge our athletes everyday to move closer to their goals. When it comes to most things in life, the more difficult the challenge, the greater the motivation needed to achieve success. Unfortunately, it’s easy to fall short with some long term goals because we want instant gratification and results. This is often the case when training for athletics. During the off-season, the average football player will spend approximately 32 weeks preparing. When looking at the preparation conservatively, if they spend 5 hours a week training, they put in a total of 160 hours or the equivalent of 6.6 days for only 8 hours of game action (10 game regular season). This is an awful lot of work for such little game action. If we were to break it down further, most of the athletes will only play a small percentage of these contests. So the questions is, how do you maintain motivation during this 32 week period?
We like to break the training into small bursts and remind the athletes why we are working in the grueling heat, spending hours doing sprints, weight training, and pushing our bodies to the limit. The game comes down to inches and small bursts of electric plays. If you can’t suck it up for 5 seconds, you will be unable to reap the benefits of stardom on Friday nights. Below are some techniques we use to reinforce your athletes during this long stretch and have them coming back to every workout ready to rip it up.
- Eye on the prize- make sure the athletes know why they are getting up early during their summer vacations and give them weekly incentives for attendance/effort. I like to have teams of 5 that allow seniors to take a leadership role. The senior is responsible for the other athletes on their team and making sure they are documenting the workout data, keeping attendance, and holding their teammates accountable.
- Compete, Compete, Compete- Have weekly competitions that the athletes look forward to. Keep them novel and keep score. At the conclusion of summer, give out a prize the athletes can use that will get them out together. Something like passes to a waterpark, local restaurants, or shirts they can wear that indicates they are hard workers who get results.
- Keep it positive- People tend to like to be around those that are tough but encouraging. It’s easy to get ornery when you are working with the same people, are battling the heat, and dealing with the stress of building a championship team. I like to begin the session by framing what I expect with powerful terms. As we move through stretch I might say, “it’s a great day today and there is no place else I’d rather be than coaching the league champion “Your Team Name Here” football team. Last workout was outstanding and I’m ready to see you guys raise it to another level. I have seen it first hand how the athletes give just a little more and you get better results out of the session. A great positive attitude is something you never want to keep at home.
- Expect the best- Expect the best and the most out of the athletes. Keep the practices precise and maximize the athletes/coaches time. No one wants to do things just to do them. If you have purpose in each practice, expect the athletes to go hard, and have smooth flowing drills, the athletes and coaches know that if they go hard, they will be able to get out and enjoy their lives outside of their sport.
These are just a few things I have used over the years to keep my athletes motivated throughout the long stretch we call the off-season. We are quite aware of the effort all of our football coaches put into preparing their teams. It isn’t easy and if you are unable to push yourself in a practice session for 5 seconds, you will be unable to make that crushing block, bone jarring hit, or spectacular catch to lead your team to victory. Everyone has the ability to push 5 seconds through the pain to look back and relish the memories you create on the field.
Enjoy the Heat!!!