Introduction on motivation for rugby
Why are people playing rugby? Always a good questions to ask, you will be amazed by the answers. What motivates players? Even better question you have to ask yourself! If you want to get the most out of your players you have to sure that you can give them what they want out of the game. This is where this gets interesting: what do want of your players?
If what you want of the team "overlaps" what the players want you have a good basis to work on. Once you mapped out why your players are involved with the game, you can motivate them better. If what you wants is too far away from the teams ideas it is also clear: do not bother.
"Rugby should be fun". "We are competitive team". Is both possible? I believe it can be. How to create a competitive edge AND fun sport environment? Answer: by creating a positive coaching environment.
The teambuilding process is based on four important factors:
An important factor in developing your team is thinking about a motivational plan. With this page I will try to introduce you to this topic. At the bottom you will find some interesting links.
What are motivational components?
I found an article on the CANCoach website that describes these as:
- Life Force - the natural desire of humans to pit themselves against their environment in a struggle of survival.
- A secondary fulfillment is maximum stimulation.
- Aggression - athletes are stimulated to perform if there is a possibility of: gaining a feeling of power by outperforming others or obtaining a reward.
- Conflict - athletes attempt to resolve internal conflicts by transferring their energy to athletic pursuits.
- Competence - athletes experience feelings of joy and pleasure by interacting purposefully with their environment
Interesting to translate this to rugby: the bottom line is that your opponent is coming towards you to score a try; do you stand in front of him and tackle? How badly do you want to win? Rugby can hurt!
I was at this workshop in the Dutch National Sports-center Papendal for a lecture on sport- psychology. On of the presentations was on the subject of motivation. Why do players enjoy sports and what is the role of the coach? Some important notes:
- Sport-psychology is useless without the aid of coaches.
- Even more: the coach should do himself the first mental training.
- Specific things can be handled by you, if necessary by a sport-psychologist.
- Coaches should take genuine interest in the motivation of their players.
One of the most interesting presentations was by Joan Duda, who was involved with the US Gymnastics team. Following are some points from her lecture. Joan described two different sport-climates, which connect to the way athletes think. With this categorization the motivation of an athlete can be understood better and response as a coached better targeted. The two categories are: Task oriented or Ego oriented. You can distinguish these categories by the following:
Research has shown that the task oriented sport environment is the most successful in bringing out the best in players, also in players who are highly ego oriented. This means that the role of the coach is to create the 'task' climate by doing and saying the correct things. Its important for coaches to understand what motivates his players and create the right climate for his players to flourish. This is reflected by a list of responses for coaches:
Skill-builder Responses which emphasize:
Effort / Improvement / Skill mastery
Ability / Winning / Losing
This table helps you to communicate with players. You address a player on his poor tackle but he will point out that "George" also missed tackles (ego responds). You job is to focus on his individual skill and how it will be great if improves! Re-focus on task orientation.
Positive Coaching Alliance
This Alliance has a website with lots of information regarding positive coaching and creating an Task Oriented environment. Below is a copy from their website.
Honoring the Game Guidelines
The key to preventing adult misbehavior in youth sports is a youth sports culture in which all involved "Honor the Game." Honoring the Game gets to the ROOTS of the matter and involves respect for the Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates and one's Self. You don't bend the rules to win. You understand that a worthy opponent is a gift that forces you to play to your highest potential. You show respect for officials even when you disagree. You refuse to do anything that embarrasses your team. You live up to your own standards even if others don't. Here are ways that coaches can create a positive youth sports culture so that children will have fun and learn positive character traits to last a lifetime.
- Model Honoring the Game in behavior and language, especially when the official makes a "bad" call against your team.
- Tell your players you expect them to Honor the Game regardless of what the other team does.
- Recognize that you are the leader of the team, which includes the players AND their parents. Set and reinforce expectations for parent behavior in
- A pre-season letter to parents (download from the PCA website)
- A parent meeting at the beginning of season
- Pre-game conversations at every game
- Support the officials, especially if your parents yell at them. Tell parents they are to Honor the Game even if the official makes a bad call.
- Appoint a team parent as "Culture Keeper" to gently remind other parents on the sideline to Hon our the Game.
- Make sure they have Hon our cards, buttons, and stickers to distribute.
In the Netherlands the government runs a similar program called Kanjers in the Sport. In workshops clubs get to understand the different characters (a Rooster, a Monkey, a Rabbit and how all to become Tigers.
Money and Rugby
Nowadays players seem to go where the money goes, sad really. Rewards such as praise, publicity and increased self-esteem are often more powerful than the tangible rewards of money. As a club you can help to provide these! The effects of rewards are dependent on the orientation of the player - some are very financially motivated while others are more intrinsically motivated. Players with high levels of intrinsic motivation are those who reach high levels in rugby and are more likely to be absolutely committed. This is a good opportunity for a club: built an "infrastructure" that will attract those kinds of players. Positive motivation is the preferred approach and moves players towards a positive experience, and towards something they want to happen, while a negative approach aims to drive players away from a negative experience.
Joan Duda published her views on these matters. This article gives some background information on the subject. Its main focus is the motivation of kids and why a positive sport experience when young is important for future life. A little test for players to see what their orientation is also included. The article ends with tips for players, coaches and parents. Good Stuff!