Motivation – Part 1

What is motivation?

The motivation explained by Olivier Alluin, mental trainer and partner of the new sport of E-Road Racing. Even the electric-assisted bicycle race is to be prepared! And above all, we get motivated!

To define motivation, one must be interested in the etymology of this word. In Latin, “motivus” and “movere” meant “mobile” and “moving”. Motivation is therefore “what sets in motion”. Motivation can be associated with our first step towards action. The second step can be represented by “the objectives”, a notion that I will explore in a future article.

First conclusion: without motivation, we do not move, we do not move forward.

The theme of motivation, in sport but also in life in general, therefore raises the question: WHY am I moving forward? “, “WHY am I embarking on this project, this challenge? »

Giving meaning:

It is essential to give meaning to what you do by putting your actions in accordance
with your values. The goal is to find a valid reason that suits you, the one
that allows you to concretely measure the long-term benefit of your short-term

In short, to be motivated in a task, your objectives must inspire you, they must have a particular importance for you.

Several types of motivation:

Motivation” is in fact a general theme revealing several different types of motivations.

To make it simple we can present the two main forms:

Extrinsic motivations correspond to a commitment not for the activity itself but for its consequences. The goal is then to obtain something positive or to avoid
something negative:
  • Rewards: medals, financial gains….
  • Fear of punishment: practicing to please your parents, not to make the coach angry….
  • Social acceptance: trying to get others to admire you…

Intrinsic motivations, on the other hand, represent the personal reasons specific to the individual:

  • Stimulation: the pleasant sensations provided by the activity (speed, fluidity,
    control, effort…), the fact of relaxing or exercising thanks to the sports
  • Knowledge: the act of learning, mastering techniques or progressing in the
    mastery of these techniques.
  • Achievement: the satisfaction of pushing one’s limits, of reaching one’s
    personal goals
Studies and empirical work show that intrinsic motivation is more stable and sustainable. An athlete who is only motivated in an extrinsic way is often less persevering. Intrinsic motivation is to be preferred to achieve sporting performance but also to preserve the athlete’s well-being (better management of stress and emotions…).
However, our actions are generally motivated in different ways. For example, an athlete may experience the pleasure of training and progress (intrinsic motivation) but also be interested in the rewards he could receive by being a winner (extrinsic

The different types of motivations make it possible to combine the “competitive” aspect (extrinsic) and the “development” aspect (intrinsic) to enable the athlete to remain involved in the long term.

How do you get motivated?

To reinforce intrinsic motivation, it is first and foremost necessary to privilege
pleasure in the task and this in concrete terms. Indeed, pleasure is almost always present when you start a sport, but daily practice and the search for results sometimes relegate pleasure to the background. A difficult period then begins when the child’s dream comes true and the desire to become a champion is transformed into constructed and reasoned objectives. The awareness of the project and the resulting challenges make the game and the
pleasure initially present disappear in favour of effort, perseverance and combativeness. Gradually, performance is no longer synonymous with achievement for the athlete but rather as a relief: the reward becomes a legitimate end to the efforts made and the loss of meaning of the sporting project can unbalance the rest of the career. Performance becomes an end in itself, it is the meaning: perform to perform. It is important to remember our first intrinsic motivations, those that led us to
practice at the beginning or to continue thereafter before the notion of performance.

It is then possible to act on the following three levers to improve intrinsic motivation:

  • sense of competence: achieving the objectives you have set yourself, feeling
  • autonomy: to feel that you are an actor and decision-maker of your actions…
  • be socially recognized: belong to a training group, get feedback from your coach…

Techniques to stay motivated?

In order to put the notion of pleasure back at the center of the practice, it is possible
  • Vary the training situations (place, context, content, material, techniques, different
    constraints, different teammates…)
  • Set very short-term objectives in the form of personal (or teammate) challenges
  • “Break the routine” by totally decontextualizing (OFF evening with
    partners and coach instead of the session: bowling, pool, other leisure

In other words, to privilege pleasure rather than the result will make the athlete PLAY instead of TRAIN.

Develop a sense of competence:

Most athletes measure their competence by comparing themselves to their opponents.
However, to promote intrinsic motivation, it is above all necessary to be aware of one’s own progress.

In practice:

Debrief your training and competitions with the hamburger technique:

  • 2 specific positive points
  • 1 or 2 points to improve formulated positively and indicating the action to be taken to progress
  • 1 general positive point
Repeat this type of debriefing at the end of each training cycle and at the end of each

Complete a training logbook to evaluate your progress over the days

Reinforce the feeling of autonomy:

The intrinsic motivation will be all the higher if the athlete takes ownership and identifies his performance project. To be fully involved, he must be able to give it personal meaning and feel in control of his own success.

In practice:

Define the objectives horizontally, i.e. WITH the athlete and not by imposing his choice
from the top.

To allow the athlete to get to know himself better as a practitioner by promoting:

  • auto-feedback (personal feedback on feelings, etc.) before debriefing,
  • the questioning and the search for answers on his side before giving him some hints,
  • the use of video for technical corrections, for example
Suggest to the player to build himself some sessions during the season (objectives,
contents, material…) Encourage the licensee to get involved in the club by having other responsibilities in
parallel with his practice (supervision…)

Increase social recognition:

An athlete is not naturally motivated, he must be allowed to develop his intrinsic
motivation, in particular by giving him a privileged place within the training
group. The individualization of training must not be limited to technical criteria but must also be an attitude in the way it communicates with each athlete.

In practice:

  • To feel important and recognized as a fully-fledged individual, it is interesting to assign a role to each athlete. As before, it is not enough to impose a role on him but to discuss with him what will best suit your needs as a coach and his expectations as an athlete.
  • Take the time to give him constructive feedback (feedback and debriefing) on a regular basis.
  • Encourage informal exchanges before or after training or competition to create a
    relationship of trust beyond practice.

There are of course other techniques to develop your intrinsic motivation but I advise you to get closer to a mental trainer to support you in this process.

Bibliography :

“Psychology of sport” (Richard H. Cox, 2005)

“Becoming a Champion” (Cédric Quignon-Fleuret, 2016)

“Social Psychology of Sport” (S. Jowett, D. Lavallee, 2008)

“Introduction to the psychology of motivation” (RJ. Vallerand, EE. Thill, 1993)

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