As a follow-up to my last post about inspiration, this time I will talk about how leading people in sports – like coaches, trainers, or older, successful climbers – can inspire their athletes and what kind of behaviour is particularly considered as inspiring.

In which context and situations are we inspired?

VISIONS: Convincing, prospective visions, uttered by e.g. the coach, are generally seen as inspirationally motivating. So when the “leader” gives an outline of the future potential of an athlete, this can be very inspiring.

BEHAVIOUR: Coaches can foster inspiration by encouraging and showing athletes how to deal with difficult situations and circumstances, serving as positive example to follow, supporting them, and fostering opportunities to be inspired. Last but not least, positive emotional reactions to athletes’ accomplishments can be an inspiration, too.

It turns out that we are most likely to be inspired by our coach after both negative and positive situations, alongside different, mainly negative, cognitions and emotions. This means that inspiration principally occurs the same day as (exceptional) positive experiences after moments of difficulty, frustration, and struggle (such as injuries, failures, etc.).

What impact does inspiration have on us?

Inspiration fosters athletes’ awareness of capabilities, confidence, motivation and behaviour. It also fosters our cognitions, emotions and behaviour in a positive way. However, there are perhaps temporal differences concerning to these consequences. For example, if a coach gives a speech in front of their team before the second half of a match, this has a short-term effect. However, if coaches raise their athletes’ awareness of what they’re potentially capable of in the future, this has a positive long-term effect on their athletes’ cognitions and behaviour.

Last but not least, did you know that the reputation of a coach is very important? If the coaches have a positive reputation, they have a stronger influence on their athletes due to a higher level of respect for their coach.

So what have we learned?

Giving positive feedback to athletes is really important. Particularly, if the visionary, prospective potential of an athlete is pointed out, this can be very motivating and inspiring.

Certain situations – such as a successful competition after a “drought of success” or period of failures, injures or the like – can be strategically used by coaches to inspire their athletes.

Support in difficult situations, encouragement, being a positive role model, and emotional participation are considered as important behavioural aspects for coaches to be likely to inspire their athletes!

"YOU REALLY COULD BE EXTRAORDINARY"
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