Motivation and Coaching Study

CW-Forearm-Tap-PlankA couple of recent studies by Kansas State kinesiology professor, Brandon Irwin, looked at the effects of motivation and coaching.    In one study, Irwin had people perform planks, (lying face down, keeping your body straight, lifting yourself up on your elbows, and holding that position as long as you can) under three different conditions:

  • The first group did planks alone.
  • The second group had a partner who was an expert at planks but remained silent.
  • The third group had an expert partner who offered lots of verbal encouragement: “Come on. You can do it. You got this.

The second and third groups of partnered plankers both performed better than those that were solo.  The group that performed best, though, was the group with the silent, expert partner.  Why? Irwin says,

“… having a higher-performing partner is clearly motivating – people are competitive. But the motivational chatter may be seen as condescending or be mistaken for the partners encouraging themselves, suggesting that maybe they weren’t better after all. …What works best of all is leading by quiet example and addressing people’s needs directly. “

In a second study with stationary bikes, Irwin confirmed that people performed better with expert partners… improving about twice as much.  He and his researchers also discovered another factor that was even more powerful.  When bikers were told that their performance was contributing to a team score, they improved threefold.  Irwin states,

“What we think is that the feeling of being indispensable, which results from the shared goal, makes you work harder, especially when you know you’re the weaker link of the team,” says Irwin. “The bond becomes stronger.”

Irwin went on to state his belief that

group cohesion is a key motivational factor – feeling that your efforts are important to your team’s success.”

As a teacher and a coach how can you best apply this information?  As I mentioned in my post the other day, there is Strength in Numbers.   As we are heading into our Fall seasons, what can you, your staff, and your team leaders do to insure that everyone on the squad feels like they are part of the team and that their performance is important?  Is there a strategy that you can use when pairing athletes together in stretch lines, as workout partners, in drill work, in the locker room?

Tomorrow…. “well, back in my day …….” <==== said in a grumpy old man voice.

Jeff Floyd –

1 thought on “Motivation and Coaching Study

  1. Pingback: “Honking” Practice…Teaching that everyone has a role in leadership | Coach and Coordinator

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