Money Smart Athlete Blog

Unlocking Your Inner Champion: Self-motivation strategies for athletes

By Vasilia Polycarpou, The Sports Financial Literacy Academy

When it comes to succeeding in sports, motivation plays a crucial role for athletes, since there will be countless obstacles, setbacks and losses they will have to overcome before they can achieve success. The key is never giving up, but pushing through with perseverance until they get their much-anticipated results. However, this process can be very challenging, putting a strain on the mental wellbeing of athletes who need to continuously find ways to motivate themselves, in the face of adversity, staying true to their journey towards the fulfillment of their goals and objectives in sports.

A great first step to enhancing an athlete’s levels of motivation is through setting specific goals and milestones which are realistic, yet always challenging and ambitious, to encourage them to get better. Having a clear vision and plan allows an athlete to focus on the steps towards the achievement of both short as well as long-term goals, as long as these long-term goals are broken down into smaller, less complex ones. Being able to track their progress towards these goals over time will help them re-evaluate and adjust them where necessary, keeping in mind that not everything always goes as planned, since circumstances may change unexpectedly.

It is also important to celebrate milestones and successes along the way, big and small, and rewarding themselves since this will give them the motivation to keep on going until they unleash their full potential. Athletes need to treat themselves to things they like, as a reward for their hard work and dedication to their goal.

Furthermore, when it comes to losses and failure, athletes need to maintain a growth mindset, looking at setbacks as a learning opportunity which can help them improve and evolve in their sport, but also as individuals. Focusing on constructive criticism and blocking out negativity is essential. A positive mindset can also help them overcome the stress and anxiety that comes with high performance expectations. This type of mindset can be cultivated through wellbeing enhancement techniques, such as meditation, reading self-help books, as well as listening to self-motivation podcasts by specialists or even people they personally admire. This can help boost self-belief and confidence levels, as well. Positive affirmations are also key when it comes to athletes having feelings of despair and negative self-thought. Athletes need to focus on the things they can control, and on external influences beyond that.

Moreover, creating a positive support system also helps. Having a close group of people, they can trust and rely on, including coaches, teammates, mentors, family members and friends who are there to lift them up you during hard times, can be a game changer when it comes to their motivation levels. Athletes can also seek inspiration from people they admire and think highly of, observing their journey and learning from their successes, failures, and sports techniques, without comparing these journeys to their own, since every path is unique.

Finally, the key to persevering and remaining motivated and dedicated to their sports goals, lies in uncovering their passion and love for what they do. Identifying the purpose and reason they started doing something in the first place will remind them of why they need to keep on going, even when faced with difficult situations which may at the time seem impossible. Athletes need to circle back and remind themselves of this greater purpose when things get tough, in order to reignite their enthusiasm.

For athletes striving to succeed in their sport, motivation and mental strength are essential. Physical talent alone cannot guarantee success. Therefore, athletes need to focus on cultivating their self-motivation levels, since these will allow them to persist through difficult times and remain focused on their ultimate goal of sports success.

The Money Smart Athlete® Blog is established and run by the Sports Financial Literacy Academy® (SFLA). Through its education programs, the SFLA has the vision to financially educate and empower athletes of all ages to become better people, not just better athletes.  For more information on our courses, our SFLA Approved Trainer Program®, and how they can benefit you and your clients, please get in touch with us at [email protected]