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Strength and Conditioning Research

The Athlete Can Motivate Themselves [.pdf]
Reprinted article by Douglas B. Sharples


Exactly how does an athlete go about motivating themselves? How can they bring out this internal, personalized, individual motivation so necessary for athletic success? Where should they begin? Here are some suggestions:


1. Set a definite, realistic goal, with a deadline for its achievement. When it is reached, set another goal-one that is beyond your current grasp, but not yet beyond your reach. Identify short range goals, leading to long range goals which lead to long range objectives. Make certain that the immediate and long-term goals are exact and most important measurable. Broad, vague, and indefinite goals are not helpful or effective. Record these specific long-range and short-term goals and deadlines, and review them daily.


2. Use positive imagination. Nothing is so depressing as a conviction that one is not a hero. Imagine yourself as already having achieved your goals. A person always acts, feels, and performs according to what they imagine to be true about themselves and there surroundings. Your mental picture of yourself may be the strongest force within you, as people tend to become precisely what they imagine themselves to be.


3. List all the problems, difficulties, and obstructions between yourself and your goals. Then write out a specific, day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month, step-by-step plan of action for overcoming each barrier. Advice on your plan and its details may be sought from your coach. Remember, they have been up against these problems many times, and their experience can often be helpful. Finally establish deadlines for the execution of this step-by-step plan.


4. Develop an indomitable craving, ambition, zeal and desire to reach your goal through the carrying out of this action plan. You may find out how much desire you have to reach your goals by answering two all-important questions:

(a)  What are the rewards for attaining my goals?

(b)  Is it worth it to me to achieve these goals?


If after identifying your rewards for goal attainment, you feel it is worthwhile and important to you to achieve your goals, then you know you have authentic desire to succeed. But if the rewards for goal accomplishment aren't worth the effort to you, then you can't be motivated on the basis of these goals, and you should try to establish new goals which are worth your achieving.


5. Maintain unshakable faith in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals through execution of this step-by-step action plan.


6. Develop an iron-willed determination which will blast any roadblock from your path and overcome any setback to achieving your goals. Follow through with your step-by-step plan, regardless of circumstances, obstacles, or the opinions of others about your goal directed behavior.


7. Avoid a negative mental attitude. Don't even associate with negative people. Stay away from those who oppose your goal- directed behavior. Making uncomplimentary remarks causes others to think less of you and it lowers your own self-respect. Complaining, moaning, groaning, and grumbling are characteristics of losers.


8. Develop a positive mental attitude. Say only positive things about others. If you can't say something positive than don't say it.  Compliment others regularly, no matter how difficult you may find it.  There's good in everything, even if it's nothing more than a horrible example of what not to do.  Think only in positive terms.  Never tolerate the thought of ultimate defeat.  Develop an enthusiastic, go-go-go, it-can-be-done, do-it-now, affirmative, effervescent personality.  Nobody likes a sourpuss, nobody likes a grouch and nobody likes an unpleasant, nasty personality.  So develop a positive mental attitude and a pleasant personality as  stepping-stones along the path to success.  This positive approach will serve as your foundation to athletic achievement.


9.  Pay strict attention to self-discipline.  Remember, you can't have your cake and eat it too!  There's a price on everything, including success.  Part of the price of success is hard work and clean living.


10.  Budget your time.  Time is a valuable commodity, especially in athletics.  Don't waste it on worthless, superfluous, piddling projects.  Don't throw away your time by goofing-off, loafing, procrastination or playing around.  Direct your time and efforts toward executing your step-by-step action plan which leads to achieving your goals.


11.  Learn from defeat or temporary failure.  Remember, anyone who is undefeated has never met strong opposition.  Temporary setbacks can often be valuable teachers.

12.  Be enthusiastic by developing your own enthusiasm.  Human emotions are not immediately subject to reason, but they are immediately subject to action.  The action can be either physical or mental.  A thought can be just as stimulating and effective as a deed in changing an emotion from negative to positive.  In such a case, the act, either physical or mental, precedes the emotion.  Here's how to create your own enthusiasm:

To be enthusiastic, ACT enthusiastic.  The secret is to ACT.

To be sleepy, ACT sleepy.  The secret is to ACT.

To be happy, ACT happy.  The secret is to ACT.

To be melancholy, ACT melancholy.  The key is to ACT.

13.  Develop personal self-motivators.  Here are a few.  When it's difficult to get out of bed in the morning, repeat this self-starter 25 times:


"I feel healthy, I feel happy, I feel terrific!"  When it comes time to perform a task such as training, repeat this self-starter 25 times:


"Do-it now, do-it-now, do-it-now,":  etc. 


Talk yourself into becoming a better athlete, don't talk yourself out of training.