Athletic Insight - The Online Journal of Sport Psychology

Letters to the Editor

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Subject: motivation
To: "Athletic Insight"

Can you give me some insight on how to motivate the teenage athlete you can "talk the talk" but can't "walk the walk."

Thanks,
Steve

Subject: Re: motivation
To: "Valley Center Recreation Commission"

Thanks for writing, Steve. There are several reasons why developing athletes experience difficulty "walking the walk." Possibilities vary from a lack of confidence based on previous setbacks, to a situationally pessimistic explanatory pattern, to a lack of work ethic. These are only three common possibilities. In terms of confidence, some athletes under-achieve so that their confidence is not further undermined. One possible intervention is to question the athlete why he or she is not exerting full effort. Is the sub-optimal behavior an avoiding tendency based on perceived self-weakness? Does the athlete believe that more effort would not enhance performance? Does the athlete believe that he or she lacks the requisite skills to "walk the walk?" Is there a lack of understanding regarding the level of effort / commitment necessary to walk the walk? Or, simply, is the athlete involved in sport for a purpose other than performance achievement? Asking these questions and pairing the response for each with observations of congruent or incongruent behaviors might help you arrive at a clearer understanding of what thoughts and emotions underlie the athlete's current behaviors.

Rob Schinke, Ph.D.
Associate Editor

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Athletic Insight - The Online Journal of Sport Psychology: Line Mental Health Net Award Winner
Copyright 2002 Athletic Insight, Inc.
ISSN 1536-0431