The importance of balanced motivation in learning

Luis’s parents took him to training every afternoon. It wasn’t that he particularly liked football, but that didn’t bother him either. He had a great time with his teammates, although sometimes the coach caught his attention because he said he was distracted and didn’t know anything. On Saturdays he played a game. He usually played little, but he didn’t care because he also had a good time on the bench talking to his friends. The truth is, I didn’t understand why some took the outcome of games so seriously.

His teammate Peter was a boy who put a lot of effort into training. He always arrived on time and was very attentive to the coach’s directions. He liked to improve. Sometimes he even spent more time practicing what he couldn’t master at all. On match days I wasn’t nervous because I knew I would play for a few minutes. His trainer sometimes told him he had no blood in his veins.

However, Hector was quite the opposite. In matches, “the skin was left”, as he put it. Above all, he liked to win. Everyone told him that he was very good and the truth is that he had great qualities. But he didn’t like training at all. He used to arrive late and sometimes even run out with an excuse. During training, he distracted others with his jokes and didn’t pay much attention to the coach’s instructions. The only time the game was played was when the batteries were really set. The coach always put him in the starting lineup because even though he trained little, he was very good.

For her part, Joan was a very committed player. He trained hard, always trying to improve things a bit. He was very attentive to his coach’s instructions and tried to repeat everything he had learned in training to put it into practice on match day. On Saturday he was unstoppable on the pitch. I wanted to win at all costs, But also tried to make things better than in the previous game. He knew what he was doing well and was enjoying it, but he also knew what he could improve on and tried to do it with every practice.

These four types of players, and in particular the top three, are typically part of almost every grassroots football team. The way he behaves both in training and in matches has a lot to do with the type of motivation that prevails there.

Why it is important to have a balanced motivation

Motivational orientation towards the ego it is one of those players who have their goals set to improve themselves compared to others. They measure their own worth against others. They care about being starters, playing more minutes, scoring more goals, being the best …

Motivational orientation towards the task is what these players have the goal of is the personal improvement of themselves. They are focused on improving their own technical, tactical, physical and psychological skills which can make them a better player than they were last season. They focus on aspects such as improving ball control with the opposite foot, giving better passes, learning to swing, taking position on the court, improving your endurance or speed …

The motivation of the players evolves in a continuum between these two orientations. This way Luis would have low ego motivation and also low task motivation. Normally, if you don’t do anything, a guy like Luis ends up quitting football and doing another type of sport or activity that he is more interested in.

Wrongly these guys are usually tried to instill a motivation towards the result, trying to make winning something very attractive to them and thus get more involved in the activity. However, the first step would be to try to motivate them towards the task, towards their own personal improvement. In this way, he will be able to have greater self-confidence and, in the event that he finally leaves football, he will have learned important values ​​for his life: the importance of effort, constant improvement, oneself. evaluation, personal work to contribute to the team, … his time in football will have been worth it.

Management of incentives

Peter and has this strong motivational orientation to the task and instead maintains a low motivational orientation to the ego. Maybe Peter needs a little push to take this step to translate this personal improvement into the results of the competition. Positive reinforcement of their progress by the coach and his parents it can help you build your self-confidence and, from there, encourage you to achieve certain outcome goals. He will have to start with goals that he considers affordable and move forward. As you play more minutes, seeing that your progress translates into important contributions for the team, you will feel more confident and your motivation towards the ego will increase, without giving up your motivation towards the task.

Joan is in the perfect situation. He’s the kind of player any coach would want for their team. He has a fantastic balance between the two types of motivation, so when he runs into trouble with results, he will know how to deal with them. This type of motivational orientation it will also be useful to you to face the situations of your life, Current and future, outside of sport.

However, Hector is in danger. Guys like Hector are people with innate abilities that set them apart from a young age. However, by feeling superior to others, they have not acquired the capacity for work and the effort of self-improvement. As Héctor grows up, these skills will be equal to those of his teammates and, not having learned to self-criticize, poor sporting results (scoring fewer goals, playing fewer minutes, …) will be always attributed to others. The excuses of the type “the coach is crazy about me”, “in this team they are all forfeits”, “they do not give me a good time” …

If we don’t fix it, Hector will start changing teams, believing it will improve their results. But until his motivational orientation is at least task-oriented, Hector still won’t know how to cope with adverse situations. Finally, it is very likely that Hector will quit football, possibly giving up all kinds of sports. And that he abandons it badly, trying to look elsewhere for this recognition that he once had from others. A lot of guys like Hector end up in trouble looking for gang flattery, cheating on their lives, trying to stand out in some way or another to feed their egos.

Take advantage of options to improve your personal growth

Coaches and parents need to learn to recognize the type of motivational orientation our children have when they set goals. And more, to recognize the type of motivational orientation that we reinforce with our feedback. Do we encourage them when they improve the performance of a task or do we just look at the outcome of the game? Where do we focus? A lot of it depends on us whether our boys learn big lessons from their time in football or if it turns out the other way around.

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