|IT'S IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND NOT ONLY WHAT MOTIVATES A PLAYER, BUT ALSO WHAT DE-MOTIVATES THEM|
Learning what motivates each player to train hard and compete strongly in competition is critically important to a coach. Understanding what dominates a player’s mindset allows us to “push the right buttons” when needed.
Players in competition operate under numerous stressful situations, conditions and mindsets. All these various situations, conditions and mindsets create special mental challenges that test them throughout the competition and can affect their confidence and ability to perform at their best. These mental challenges can be categorized under two broad headings, Task and Ego related.
I like to categorize players into either Task or Ego motivated players, meaning the motivation that rules their response to training, competition and problems will be dealt with from a Task or Ego perspective.
Task motivated player’s are the type of players who thrive on working hard towards a goal. They see a clear link between working hard off-court and being rewarded with improved results on-court. Coaches enjoy working with players who are Task motivated because they have a great work ethic and respond well to instructions.
|THE TASK MOTIVATED PLAYER BELIEVES THAT WORKING HARD WILL ACHIEVE IMPROVED RESULTS IN COMPETITION|
The Task motivated player sounds like the ideal player to work with but there are also dangers. Simply working hard does not insure that anything gets better. Player’s who are too Task motivated train hard but sometimes don’t train smart. In tight matches they also believe it is their right to win because of the effort they have put into their training off-court. They can under-achieve during competitions.
Ego motivated players are a lot tougher for coaches to understand than Task motivated player’s because they sometimes seem aloof and unwilling to follow instructions. Ego motivated player’s can also be moody and become disinterested after losses because their personal success indicators are linked to only one factor – winning. As we all know, success often doesn’t come without taking one step backwards before we are able to take two steps forward.
Early on the Ego motivated player is labeled more “talented” or “gifted” because they rely on flashy strokes, increased variety and a winning mindset. They find a way to win and achieve good results early as juniors. This winning mindset can also get in the way of working on improvements during practise and these players can often go through periods of depression when opponents they used to beat, begin to beat them.
|EVERY PLAYER RESPONDS DIFFERENTLY TO YOUR COACHING|
A player’s Task v’s Ego tendencies are set before they come to us for training. We do however need to work with the player to eliminate dangerous tendencies that may cause problems later. Therefore knowing whether your player is Task or Ego motivated will help you deal with these players both on the practice court and during competition.
You are probably now wondering which is the best mindset, Task or Ego? It’s the key question that needs to be answered before I outline ways to improve the two different mindsets. The answer is…
PLAYERS REQUIRE ENORMOUS LEVELS OF TASK MOTIVATION AND ENORMOUS LEVELS OF EGO MOTIVATION TO REACH THE TOP.
Players need large doses of Task and Ego mindsets. Look at the top players today and you will see that a strong desire to work hard, coupled with a strong desire to achieve results creates a top player.
Training Task and Ego
It depends on whether you train players individually or in a group but within a group environment the Ego motivated players can be “tricked” into commiting to task related activities such as fitness and drilling. The group will maintain a high workload and pull the Ego motivated players along with them.
To create a more competitive mindset in the Task motivated player start to incorporate scoring, competition and points in everything you do (this will keep the Ego motivated player happy also). Get them excited about results by talking about rankings, reputation and rewards.
Anything that helps you understand each player better will make your job easier and certainly help the player become more balanced in their approach to competition.