Football coaches need to craft winning game plans and strategies while still finding time to teach players the necessary skills needed for on-field success. While balancing the demands, coaches must also motivate their players. If players aren’t mentally engaged and motivated, the best game plans in the world won’t matter. Finding effective motivational techniques may be a football coach’s greatest challenge.
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Football coaches can use goals or statistical plateaus to motivate and provide players with incentive to achieve. For instance, a coach may challenge his running backs and offensive line to produce 2,000 rushing yards, or he can tell his quarterback to work on throwing fewer than 10 interceptions all season. Having a fixed goal in mind can help the players focus on the task at hand, resulting in improved commitment to team concepts.
In the past, the idea of a football coach conjured images of a screaming madman who berated his players for every little mistake. Although some players may actually respond to negative criticism, most athletes thrive in positive environments. Football coaches should keep this in mind when attempting to motivate players, using positive reinforcement and encouraging words to communicate the required message. Sandwiching the negative critique between two positive comments can help players better accept the coaching and learn from their original mistakes. Remembering to congratulate players for jobs well done can also motivate them to repeat the same performance.
Reward systems drive the world, with monetary payments behind every type of employment. Football coaches also can use tangible rewards to motivate their players. Youth football and college coaches often reward players with helmet stickers for good plays, sparking a friendly competition between players to see who can get the most stickers. Other rewards can include team social events or days off from practice. The coach might volunteer to do something fun or slightly embarrassing, such as taking part in workouts or shaving his head if the team wins.
Successful football coaches often find creative ways to motivate their players. Some coaches hang motivational quotes around the locker room and practice facilities, reminding their players what it takes to be successful. Other coaches show their players inspirational films prior to games to get the team motivated and in the right state of mind to compete. Playing music during practice can help make workouts fun and keep players relaxed and interested. Even varying practice routines can make a big difference, because tired, stale routines can sap a player’s motivation.