Blog Fitness Winning from Within: The Art of Sports Motivation

Winning from Within: The Art of Sports Motivation

Motivation is what drives a lot of people to continue their athletic activities. One can’t expect to excel or continue their sporting activities if they don’t feel motivated. It also affects other mental factors like confidence, focus, and intensity.

Fatigue, pain, and injuries are potential drawbacks of physical exertion. However, individuals with high spirits continue their activities despite the side effects. In fact, the adrenaline pump brought by these activities keeps them going. This compels them to alter their diet, sleep, and overall mindset.

It is common for sportspeople to feel low before a competition. Some might need help to push through the training challenges. We totally get how that feels!

If you, too, want to drop out after trying so hard, we would like you to give it a second thought. You might be low in sports motivation, and that is what we wish to ignite in you today. Keep reading this article to learn about sports motivation and how to take your spirits high!

What Are the 4 Types of Motivation in Sports?

Every athlete is driven by a different motivation to work on their skills. To excel in the sporting world you must know about these motivations to determine which drives you.

The following are 4 types of motivation in sports psychology:

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is when sportspeople are encouraged by internal reasons. They need to feel efficient and be in control of their behavior. Meanwhile, some wish to enhance their confidence and feel powerful whenever their skills improve. The psychological factors underlying intrinsic motivation in sports encourage athletes to train harder and achieve their milestones on the field.

Some behaviors that are noticed when sportspeople are internally motivated include:

  • Increased self-esteem and confidence
  • Higher satisfaction
  • Improved task-related focus
  • Fewer distractions
  • Less stress despite the mistakes

sports motivation  

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation, as the name suggests, comes from external factors. It focuses on performance outcomes by winning the game or performing exceptionally well. Extrinsic motivation in sports also comes from the desire to please a parent or material rewards like college scholarships or trophies. In some cases, external rewards can decrease internal motivation due to the extensive amounts offered in sports today.

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Some behaviors that are noticed when sportspeople are externally motivated include:

  • Difficulty coping with failure
  • Greater interest in achievements
  • Anxiety
  • Desire to learn new skills

You may sense greater pressure and stress when your primary motivation is extrinsic. You may also compare yourself to other athletes and cannot deal with failures. Intrinsic motivation is the ideal type of motivation. If you increase your intrinsic motivation you can focus on your target and maintain a consistent level of motivation throughout the season.

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When discussing the different types, more is required than categorizing motivation into internal and external factors. Motivation can also be positive or negative. Positive and negative forms of motivation are at the opposite ends of a continuum. Let’s have a look:

Positive Motivation

Positive motivation is when you are rewarded for good performance. This is only sometimes an external motivator, but it could be an internal motivation too. For instance, you feel quite good when you achieve a goal or have beaten your last high score. Other examples of positive motivation are when athletes receive prize money upon winning a game. Athletes who are positively motivated are more likely to be creative and risk-takers.

Negative Motivation

Negative motivation comes in the form of punishments for performing poorly. This could be either from an intrinsic or extrinsic source. For example, an athlete who feels awful and ashamed has negative and internal motivation. Also, if a coach says that the losing team will be penalized is a negative motivation.

Positive motivation is prone to bring better outcomes than negative motivation. People tend to work harder and unlock more achievements when praised and rewarded. The fear of feeling ashamed and punished is bound to make a person feel bad. Athletes with negative motivation, such as dropping out from the initial team, often have more conservative performances.

It is also essential to acknowledge that different types of sports provide different forms of motivation. Take the example of a boxer. He will be motivated to dodge a punch because of the negative motivation of pain that comes when hit. On the other hand, golf offers more positive motivation in terms of financial gains that come due to winning a competition.

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sports motivation  

How Do You Build Motivation In Sports?

Les Brown was quite right when he said, “The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory!” Sports require physical exertion and could make some people lose motivation when training becomes hard, or they feel fatigued. Lack of motivation doesn’t happen overnight. For some reason you  may not feel motivated enough to hit the field.

Some of which are:

Daily Stress

Squeezing exercise can be challenging when you have work, kids, and chores. It becomes even harder when you don’t have a regular schedule.


If you strive for perfection and set high expectations for yourself, you might find yourself giving up as quickly as you started.

Sports Perspective

Sports often involves suffering. If you have this perspective, you may feel your energy levels going down whenever you think of going to practice.

Read more: How to Turn Exercise Motivation Into Real Actions?

For an individual to thrive in sports, they must have high motivation. Without the desire to train and thrive, it is not possible to achieve your goals and succeed. Here are some tips on how you can enhance your sports motivation and inspiration:

Pick the Right Sport

You may not like baseball but won’t want to budge from the pitch when playing cricket. Every person has unique interests when it comes to sports. This is why we suggest you try different sports and choose the one you enjoy the most. You should also find out what suits your body. For this, you must answer the questions like:

  • Do you have any physical limits?
  • How would you rate your fitness?
  • How does your body respond to different types of sports?

Ideally, you should choose a sport that you enjoy and suits your body too. If you are in doubt, you should seek help from a fitness trainer or a doctor.

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Determine Your Why

First, you must determine why you want to play a particular sport. The answer will keep you going when you feel like giving up. When you know the why, you can remind yourself of all the perks that sport carries into your life. The why shouldn’t only direct you towards your goals but also keep you focused on all you can achieve by playing that sport. This includes more energy levels during the day, less exhaustion, less stress, and a healthier body.

Set Goals

It is not necessary to be a part of huge competitions. You may like a sport that your friends don’t play. But don’t let such factors budge you from playing. Once you have chosen the sport, you should set goals for yourself. You should be realistic and begin with smaller milestones.

And don’t forget to reward yourself when you have reached that goal. This could be new sneakers you have been eyeing for months or a delicious meal at a fancy restaurant.

Make a Routine

A detailed training plan is necessary when trying to improve at a sport. You should ensure that you reach for those training on time. This would require altering your work and home routines too. However, you may be more cheerful and less stressed when incorporating sports into your life. Starting days could be challenging, but you may have no difficulties once you have established a routine.

sports motivation  

Work On Your Team Spirit

Teamwork is another primary requirement in sports. Individuals with higher team spirits stick around for their fellows and hold fewer grudges. In contrast, athletes with lower team spirits may differ more from their fellows. Some may quit the teams and sports altogether!

The feeling of having connections with a team can encourage athletes to put their best foot on the ground. They work harder and try to hone their craft for the betterment of their entire team. You should, thus, try to enhance your team spirit. This could be done by getting to know other athletes, celebrating the accomplishments of others, and meeting up with the fellows outside the field.

Even coaches looking for sports team motivation ideas are recommended to allow their teammates to get together beyond the training sessions (1).

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Utilize Your Time

It doesn’t have to be a drudging training session of 3 hours to improve your skills. You can make the most out of those chunks of time you get during the day. Utilize those 30 minutes while the meat roasts in the oven or when your friend is running late to pick you up. In this way you can feel more active and perform better when you attend the training the next day.

Note Your Progress

Some days you may feel overjoyed with your achievements. But then your poor performance the next day may put you off. This is how human psychology works. We remember setbacks more than our progress (2). This may negatively affect your sports motivation. It is helpful to keep tabs on your progress to uplift your mood when you feel down.

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What is Positive Motivation in Sport?

A thirst for pushing oneself further and feeling accomplished when reaching the objectives compels athletes to try harder during training sessions. Motivation also impacts longevity, which means that the more your motivation, the longer you can continue in that sport, despite the obstacles.

Positive motivation is when sportspeople are praised and rewarded for their exceptional performance. It is widely assumed that positive motivation has to be monetary or in some other form of material gain. We should understand that a positively motivated athlete may have some internal reasons to continue working hard.

For motivation to flourish, people should do the tasks that make them happy. They should also feel free and connected to others when they are playing. In sports psychology, motivation may fluctuate. This is particularly during intense training sessions or when someone needs to improve. It is essential to remember that you aren’t a robot, and humans tend to make mistakes. The best part, we learn some valuable lessons after facing those failures!

What Is an Example of Motivation in Sports?

Motivation is fundamental in all types of sports. Studies have shown that it is essential for an athlete to have a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (3). The reason is that intrinsic motivation makes athletes want to improve and enjoy their sport, while extrinsic motivation makes them want to win and have a strong competitive nature.

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Some extrinsic motivation sports examples include:

  • Working hard during practice to make your coach pleased.
  • Putting in effort to win a championship.
  • Practicing daily to secure a scholarship.
  • Playing your sport brings joy to your parents.
  • Giving your best during practice to avoid getting scolded.
  • Playing for the sake of money.
  • Training and playing to improve your statistics.

A few examples of intrinsic motivation sports are:

  • Putting in effort during practice because you truly love the game.
  • Practicing even after a game because the satisfaction of hard work motivates you.
  • Engaging in your sport because it brings you happiness.
  • Participating in strength and conditioning because it feels great to train intensively.
  • Playing with determination even when facing defeat because your love for the game is unwavering.

Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can work in favor of the players. But keep in mind that they may also have some negatives if the person becomes too extreme. Therefore, one should evaluate their motivation and try to control some factors if it seems like going towards extremes.

Read more: Motivation vs Discipline: Stop Wasting Your Time On One of Them

sports motivation  


  • What motivates most people?

Motivation is different for everyone. There are two types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. Some people feel encouraged when rewarded, while others feel elated when they are appreciated warmly. For some, both types of motivation are important.

  • Why is motivation important?

Motivation is the driving force behind most human activities. The importance of motivation in sports cannot be undermined, as athletes who aren’t motivated tend to give up easily.

  • How do you build motivation in a team?

Appreciation and rewards are among the basic sports team motivation ideas. Most coaches prefer this when they feel their teams have low motivation.

  • What helps you stay motivated during practice in sports?

Motivation in practice sessions may be different for every individual. Some people work hard because they want to win the prize, while others push themselves because they want to be the stars on camera. Others wish to train harder because it keeps them high and happy.

The Bottom Line

Having an understanding of what influences your motivation is important. You should also understand that there are different types of motivation, and you may be motivated by a reason totally different from your fellows.

Everyone experiences times when they feel like giving up; some days they can feel like the world is at their feet. Success comes to those who work hard and keep going even when they don’t want to move from their couches. You should find ways to boost your sports motivation and implement them when you feel like dropping out.

And don’t worry because even the best athletes have had some very hard days in their past!


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. 10 really effective ways to motivate your sports team (2020,
  2. What Is Positive Psychology & Why Is It Important? (2018,
  3. Perceived Performance, Intrinsic Motivation and Adherence in Athletes (2020,
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