A team's motivation can shift from day to day, partially because it’s dependent on each individual player. The most successful coaches find positive ways to engage their athletes, so today we’ve got six small habits that will help you inspire and motivate your team.

Cultivate a positive team culture. 

Team culture is the expression of your team's values, attitudes and beliefs about competition. It is heavily reliant upon open communication. Coaches must take the lead and have open discussions with their athletes to determine what they value. It’s vital that the players see what they hold important reflected in the culture. Creating a safe space to communicate their perspective and experience is the best way to improve your team culture.

This can also be perpetuated through a combination of positive reinforcement and honest feedback. Various forms of communication will have different motivational impacts on each player. Make it a priority to balance multiple types of communication to foster growth.

Use positive reinforcement to engage your players

Making sure to highlight when a teammate does something awesome (on or off the court) can cultivate confidence. Work on celebrating the small victories, as well as the big ones. This reassurance can help boost a player’s mental game and get them reinvigorated for their next time on the court. Small gestures like high-fives or simply saying “great job!” can motivate your team to keep doing good work. 

Honest feedback is important to help encourage growth

Constructive criticism helps refine individual skills and solidify team standards. It is important to remember that every player will not respond to criticism the same way; you may have to alter the way you deliver it for a more receptive response. Many players appreciate being pulled aside for a quick conversation on what they can improve, versus being called out in front of the whole team. When offering honest feedback, make sure to highlight the why behind it. Developmental players often benefit from understanding the reason behind the new actions you want them to take. 

Find what sets each of your players on fire.

What is the one thing that makes them tick? Each player is going to be driven by different motivators. The same tactics aren’t going to work for every individual, just like they won’t work for every team. Taking time out to learn about what inspires them both on and off the field will not only help you to understand your athletes better, it will also let each player know that you are invested in who they are as people, beyond the game.

Activate unity through teamwork

Though the team is made up of many moving parts, they’re all fighting to achieve the same goal. Highlighting the importance of teamwork can help motivate players. Many athletes are willing to work harder for a team than they are for themselves, as they feel a sense of responsibility to the whole. Emphasize how much stronger they are as a team than on their own.

Encourage competition within the team

To get players to perform their best every day, create a competitive environment during team practice. Players will be more invested if there’s something on the line. Adding competitive drills to your practices can increase player engagement.

While there is no one formula that works across the board for all coaches or teams, using these tips above can help you develop your own style. Remember that if you’re having fun, then your players are more likely to enjoy themselves which will always increase their engagement.  

Are you a coach (or do you know one) who has cracked the code for uniting the team and making a difference in the community? Click here to tell us your story for a chance to be featured on our blog!