Sports motivation: what is it, what is it for and how to increase it

Like any motivation, sport refers to a force that drives us and directs us towards a goal and keeps us going despite the difficulties that may arise; in this specific case the goal will be the realization of exercise.

We know that playing sports is good for keeping us healthy not only physically but also mentally, as it helps us to disconnect, to stop thinking about our worries, while exercising our body to improve our physical condition.

It is important to choose the practice that you like the most and the one that motivates you the most in order to persist in the objective of playing sports and not end up giving up this habit.

In this article you will know what sports motivation iswhat variables influence it and what strategies can be useful to increase it.

    What is athletic motivation?

    Motivation is defined as the impulse, the internal force, which pushes the individual to achieve a goal. That is, it has the function of activating, keeping stable and directing behavior towards a goal, it allows us to persist in an action even if it costs us, since we know that the result will reward us.

    On the other hand, we know that playing sports is one of the most recommended activities to achieve and maintain good physical condition and be healthy. Establishing a good exercise routine prevents possible diseases in the subject, in particular those related to weight problems. So playing sports is a good reason to look.

    Thus, sport motivation refers to the activation and persistence of guided behavior to achieve a sport-related end. Even if it costs a lot and the road is hard, the end result rewards all the effort.

    Each athlete’s motivation may be different, as some will enjoy and feel satisfaction for the simple act of playing sports (this is intrinsic motivation) and other subjects will present goals that are not so much related to the pleasure of doing sports, but rather to the goal of losing weight (This motivation is called extrinsic and is more closely related to the rewards of playing a sport).

    Thus, the motivation that pushes you to exercise is a key and fundamental element to carry out such an activity and this is very varied and different depending on the subject. There have been differences between individuals who play high performance sports, who do it professionally, versus people who do it to stay healthy, or between individuals of different ages. In the same way, This driving force and the goals we set also change throughout life..

    Here are some strategies or tips to help you increase or find your motivation to exercise.

      How to improve sports motivation

      As we have seen, each subject has their own motivation to play sports and although there are similar reasons, the distinctive characteristics of each individual also make them different, not quite the same. It is important that you find your motivation, since it will be the only one that will allow you to overcome the difficultiesthe days when you don’t feel like training, to achieve the desired goal.

      1. Visualize the goals

      Motivation leads to a goal, so it is important that we set a goal that we want to achieve. It will be different depending on your goal; for example, we can visualize our physique in the future or the achievements in a competition that we can achieve if we continue to train. Imagine what would make you really happy and what really makes you feel.

      It has also been shown that this technique does not work equally well in all subjects, there are those who would do better to visualize the opposite consequencei.e. the negative state that would be reached if we continue in the same way and do not train, imagine the terrible results that can occur as health problems and diseases.

        2. Set short-term goals

        Since the road is not easy, it is useful to set short-term goals that motivate us to achieve the final goal. Set more affordable goals and you can overcome them relatively quicklybecause they are the ones who will encourage you to keep fighting and playing sports.

        When we are tired and prefer to lie on the sofa or have a hard day at work, it will be the small goals that will get us moving, like thinking about how we will feel after playing sports that day, how we will feel good about ourselves. Also, exercising even if it tires you later generates in you a feeling of energy and physical well-being, while helping you to disconnect from your worries and thus reduce stress.

        It has been proven that sport increases the amount of endorphins in the body, a hormone that is linked to the feeling of well-being and the reduction of pain. This objective can be a good reason in the short term.

          3. Set a workout routine

          In the same way that we have seen that visualizing, i.e. representing the motive internally, is useful to keep us strong, it is also functional and necessary to consider the mode of action and leave it in advance.

          In other words, it can be useful for us to fix and specify what we are going to do and what our performance will be, what day we are going to train, what exercises we are going to do, how long each training will last…

          If we create a routine and know what to do each day, it will be easier to stay motivated and not give up when we are tired. It’s another way to set small goals that will keep you motivated in the short term.

          4. Be realistic

          Try to set yourself possible goals, especially those that you set for yourself in the short term, because if the goals aren’t realistic and you can’t achieve them, it can frustrate you and make you stop trying. These should be goals that you can achieve in order to be rewarded.

          For example, if you plan a very intense daily routine, chances are that when you’ve been doing it for a few days, you won’t be able to do it and your body won’t allow you to follow it. It is also recommended to start gradually, to avoid feeling very tired and thus gradually improve and set new goals. In this way we can improve, which is why it is better to start small.

            5. Allow yourself to rest

            Related to the previous point, we must be realistic and therefore we must allow ourselves to rest, because not only is it necessary for our body, but at the same time it gives us more strength to be able to continue.

            It is wrong to think that we will reach our goals easier and faster if we do not rest, our body is more likely to be unbearable and the recovery is much worse, even if we force the injured terms unduly and therefore have to stop longer.

            Everyone needs to rest, even professional athletes, because it is part of training and essential to achieving our goal.

              6. Find what motivates you

              As we said, not everyone has the same goal or motivation. In the same way, we do not all like or do not all practice the same exercises, find that sports practice is the one that attracts you the most: individual sport, in groups, outdoors, in the swimming pool… There is one. great variety that adapts to the preferences of each person.

              It is important to find what we like because it will make it easier for us to persist. and it’s more likely that on days when we’re less motivated we won’t throw in the towel.

              7. Modify exercises

              We have already spoken of the advisability of establishing a routine, but that does not mean that we always do the same exercises, it will vary well, not only not to get bored, but also to work other parts of the body or do it differently. There are many ways to exercise, for example, we can do strength exercises without using equipment or with weights.

              So as you progress you will also see which parts you need to strengthen and which parts need more trainingbe able to adapt your routine to these objectives in order to improve.

                8. Sign up for guided classes

                Signing up for guided classes or practicing sports that are already scheduled can benefit us. Especially at the beginning, when you are not yet in shape or when you have not established a routine to play sports.

                Doing it freely may not be the best option, because it is easier for us not to do it when we feel reluctant. On the contrary, if we have a “commitment” prior to an activity, it will encourage us to attend.

                9. Be aware of your progress

                Sometimes it is difficult for us to see our progress and we focus only on improving and achieving new goals, without valuing or rewarding ourselves for the goals we have already achieved. Look how you’ve improved And be proud of your goals, because being aware of progress will also help you stay motivated and stick with your goals.

                Bibliographic references

                • García, JR, Caracuel, JC and Ceballos, O. (2014) Motivation and sports exercise: an aging relationship. International journal of social sciences and humanities.
                • Peters, H and Stefanek, K. (2011) Motivation in Sport: Theory and Application. Motivational Counseling Manual.
                • Djurovic, D., Aleksic-Veljkovic, A. & Petrovic, T. (2020) Psychological Aspects of Motivation in Athletic Achievement.

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