For a young athlete to stick with a sport or activity, like gymnastics, they need to be motivated. If the eagerness to get better or do their best is there, kids will likely achieve personal goals, feel successful, and continue improving. So how can you help a young athlete stay motivated?
Here are five ways to motivate a young athlete:
1. Ask your child what they like about their sport or activity.
The first step in understanding what motivates a child to stick with a sport or activity is to know what they like about participating. Does your child like gymnastics because she can hang out with her friends? Or does she like competing against other athletes? Maybe the best part of challenging herself to get better? Chat with your child about what they like and don’t assume that you know. Their answers might surprise you.
2. Support your child in what is motivating to them.
If you have a good understanding of what your children like about a sport or activity, you’ll also have a pretty good idea of what motivates them. Do your best to honor this and avoid pushing your own motivation onto your child. If you want your child to compete but they’re not showing much interest, let them proceed with their sport and potential competitions on their timeline (not yours).
3. Expect your child’s motivation to change over time.
How often do you wake up excited to get to the gym to work out? Some days, you’re probably really excited and can’t wait to get there. Other days (or perhaps weeks), you might feel less motivated and prefer to skip the workout altogether. Kids experience the same ebb and flow with their motivation. Some days they might be really excited to train and other days they aren’t. If your child enjoys gymnastics and has been excited about it in the past, a day or two of feeling unmotivated might just be a sign they need a short break. Most likely, they’ll bounce back.
4. Give your child some time to figure things out.
If your child is new to gymnastics, give them some time to figure out what they like about participating. Again, try not to force anything on them and make sure that your child’s motivation is their own. Over time, kids learn what they like about a sport and what makes them excited to keep coming back.
5. Use encouragement and positivity to motivate young athletes.
Fear, anger, punishment, and yelling will not inspire your young athlete to achieve success. If your child is struggling with motivation, make sure you’re helping them from a place of positivity. Try to understand where they’re coming from and look for opportunities to show support instead of frustration.
Kids First Gymnastics in Cedar Rapids provides every athlete with positive coaching, feedback, and motivation. To learn more about how to get your child started with any of our programs, contact us today.