Oct 12, 2016
Mastering Motivation

Matt Chandler, MS, CSCS, RSCC*D, USAW-1, NASM-CPT, has been successful at many levels. He’s currently an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Oregon, where he primarily works with the women’s basketball and volleyball teams. He’s also trained athletes at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado.

From 2012 until earlier this year, Chandler, who was previously a Sergeant in the Marine Corps, was the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Servite High School in Anaheim, Calif., where he worked with hundreds of student-athletes. In this blog, Chandler details his four keys for overcoming one of the biggest high school weightroom hurdles: motivating athletes.

Bring the fire: If you want your athletes to be excited about their work in the weightroom, you need to match that attitude. “Think of yourself like a thermostat,” Chandler says. “You control the intensity in the weightroom, and athletes, especially high school athletes, will mirror the attitude that you bring in. If you’re not excited to be there, leading them through a workout, why would they be excited to take part? No matter what kind of day you’re having, you need to send your athletes the message that you’re giving 100 percent, and you expect them to as well.”

Learn what makes them tick: Motivating high school athletes isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Dealing with hundreds of athletes also means dealing with hundreds of personalities. “Some kids are going to respond positively if you’re hard on them,” Chandler says. “But others, you’re going to need to put your arm around them and be more supportive. You’ve got to be willing to take the time to understand the specific ways to reach each player if you want them to be excited to be in the weightroom.”

Be consistent: The life of a high schooler is often unpredictable, and that can lead to stress. The last thing you want is for your athletes not to know what to expect when they come into the weightroom. “If you’re yelling and screaming at them one day, and the next day, you’re trying to play it cool, your athletes are going to be on pins and needles wondering what version of you they’re going to see from day to day,” Chandler says. “They’ll appreciate it if your behavior is consistent, and by extension, they’ll be excited to come in every day.”

Give them ownership: This can be a fine line to walk. It’s critical that you are the authority in the program, and your authority is recognized. But at the same time, giving your athletes a voice can be beneficial.

“I always told my high school athletes that the weightroom is theirs, and that I wanted them to have a say in what went on inside it,” says Chandler. “For example, if in talking to my athletes, I found out that they were going to have a particularly tough practice after this workout, I’d ask them if they wanted to adjust some exercises or rep schemes. All of a sudden, they’d be more excited. Not because they were doing less work, but because I asked for their opinion and showed them that I valued what they had to say.”

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