Whichever sport you compete in, it’s likely that there are only a handful of opportunities each year to secure that gold medal or champions trophy, meaning only a very select few athletes are rewarded with a podium place. How then, when the chances of winning are statistically so slim, are elite athletes able to stay motivated in sports through their often gruelling training regimes, early starts and strict nutrition plans?
Clearly define your goals and objectives
Ask the average person about their goals and objectives for the future and they’ll likely give a general half-hearted answer or no answer at all. But ask an elite athlete and they’ll be able to reel off a clear set of near and long term goals, as well as their strategy to achieve them. Having clarity about exactly what your objectives are will enable you to track progress and most importantly keep you focused and motivated when you experience setbacks.
Having a personal trainer or coach can be really useful here to help define your goals and provide you with a tailored training plan to help you progress.
Having clear goals alone isn’t going to be enough to motivate you through potential challenges, injuries and fatigue. Having complete confidence and self-belief in your abilities and your right to a podium place will go a long way in keeping you motivated through the rough days. Elite athletes with high levels of self-belief don’t compare themselves with their peers and see difficult situations as challenges not threats. They have the confidence and self-reassurance to simply ask themselves, “how can I learn from that?”.
Enjoy the process
It goes without saying that to stay motivated in elite sports you’ve got to love it. The demanding nature of competitive elite sports, with long hours, early wake up calls, and physically demanding training schedules means that enjoying the grind really is necessary to stay motivated in sports.
Let your mistakes fuel you
Something that sets outstanding athletes apart is their ability to bounce back quickly from setbacks. Whether it’s a mistake made on the pitch, an injury or an opponent’s actions, they won’t let anything distract them from their goals. In fact, if things don’t always go to plan they use it to their advantage, fuelling their motivation to get it right the next time. If their opponent puts out a stellar performance, they don’t get disheartened, but instead let it fire them up for the next opportunity to beat them.
Take the highs with the lows
Simply being aware that your motivation does tend to ebb and flow will help you get through the times when motivation is lacking. Even elite athletes have days where they can’t face getting out of bed when their 5am alarm goes off, but they don’t allow one demotivated day to derail their whole routine. If necessary, it’s important to give your body the rest it needs to be back in the gym the next day, bright eyed and bushy tailed.
The content of this article does not constitute medical advice by a registered healthcare professional. You can find the best sports psychologists and sports hypnotherapists in our sports performance directory.