A Plan that Will Motivate Players in All Sports
Why You Need a Motivational Plan
The 2 Best Ways to Motivate Soccer Players
How to Use Praise & Positive Reinforcement to Get Results
Motivate players to attend practice, hustle, be brave & anything you want them to do

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Why Every Youth Coach Needs a Motivational Plan. One of the most important things I have learned is that every coach needs a motivational plan. Motivation is critical and the key to success. Motivation is what makes us want to do things. It is the difference between doing something with enthusiasm, giving 100% and having a good attitude, or just doing the minimum with a bad attitude.

The 2 Best Ways to Motivate Soccer Players. I think the best way to motivate young soccer players is through positive reinforcement, incentives and rewards that motivate them to do the things you want them to do. There are 2 things you can do that are easy and that will produce results:

  1. Positive encouragement and praise

  2. Use soccer patches or Star Patches for motivation and positive reinforcement as part of a motivational plan.

You can read over 300 Testimonials for our Patches for Soccer, Baseball, Basketball, Softball, Swimming and All Sports and Students.

A Motivational and Positive Reinforcement Plan that Works for Thousands of Coaches. I started coaching before the internet was popular. I had to learn the hard way � by trial and error. I was fortunate that my first coaching experience was as an assistant to a coach who was a great motivator. He wasn't the best technical coach, but he was able to motivate the kids so well that the team rarely lost. Over the years I have had the benefit of corresponding with hundreds of soccer coaches around the world and the motivational plan below is what I think works best most of the time.

4-Step Plan for Successfully Motivating Soccer Players - List, Incentivize, Praise, Reward (LIPR). Think of motivating your players as a 4-step process.

First, make a list of the actions and behavior you want from your players. (Examples might be hustle, bravery, defense or specific actions such as following shots for rebounds or for midfielders to run back to a defensive position when your team loses the ball. Do NOT put results such as scoring a goal on the list because that could be counterproductive by encouraging everyone to want to be a scorer. Train your players to do the things that will lead to the results you want, such as being in position for rebounds and following instructions. There is a lot about this on SoccerHelp at Motivational Patches Navigation Page).

Second, incentivize your players. Start to encourage your players and show them the patches they can earn - the patches are an incentive and will motivate your players.

Third, praise them every time they do what you want so they are getting praise AND feedback that they are doing the right thing. Give specific praise in front of the rest of the team if possible.

Fourth, when they do the right thing, reward them with a patch at a ceremony in front of the team and, if possible, the parents. This is positive reinforcement and a visible reminder of the rewards they will receive if they please the coach.

How to Use Soccer Patches and Star Patches as an Incentive, for Positive Reinforcement, and for Motivation as Part of a Motivational Plan. When I started coaching I was looking for a way to motivate my players to come to practice. I was coaching a recreational team and we only had 4 practices before our first game. I realized that it would make a huge difference if I could get all of my players to come to those 4 practices. I was looking for something inexpensive and tried a lot of different things. Finally I found the small one-inch iron-on soccer patches. I paid 55 cents each for them 15 years ago. From the start they really worked. Below are ideas for how to use them as incentives, rewards and for positive reinforcement:

  1. Develop a Plan. Think through what you want to motivate and use the patches to motivate and reward your players. The iron-on patches are used for soccer, baseball, basketball, martial arts, swimming, skating, band, volleyball and other sports. They are also used by schools, churches and clubs.

  2. Give them in a Ceremony in Front of the Team and Parents. For the best results, keep in mind the benefits of public praise, competition and group pressure. Everyone loves to be praised in front of a group and it is natural for kids to want to earn something that their teammates have earned. That is why it works best to give the patches out after the game in a ceremony in front of all the players and parents and be sure to PRAISE the players and tell them why they EARNED the patches. This will make them proud and will let the other players know the type of behavior that will EARN a patch.

  3. Positive Reinforcement. A positive reinforcement approach gets better results than a negative approach and is a lot more fun for everyone.

  4. Visible Symbols. The soccer patches really work to motivate players and for positive reinforcement. They are a visible symbol.

The Soccer Patches Are an Incentive, Positive Reinforcement and Motivation to Both the Player Being Rewarded and to Other Players Who Can See the Patches and Want to Earn Them. The patches are an incentive to motivate the behavior you want and when you give a player a patch it is positive reinforcement and a visible symbol that the player has done a good thing and was rewarded. Other players will know how the patches were earned and will be motivated to please the coach and earn patches.

How to Give Effective Positive Encouragement and Praise That Gets the Results You Want. Words are powerful. Think about the effect words can have on you if they are said by someone you love or work for. Keep in mind that kids are "kids". Even if they are teenagers they are still kids. I look back and regret that there were times when I wasn't patient enough as a coach. If I coach again I will try to use positive encouragement and praise and avoid negative criticism. I am convinced that positive encouragement and praise gets better results and is more fun too. WHAT you say is important but equally important is WHEN you say it and HOW you say it. Here are some ideas:

  1. Encourage and praise the actions and behavior that you want from your players in a positive way and use the player's name. If it is something they did such as hustling, you can say "Great hustle Billy." But if it is something you want them to do, instead of saying something negative such as "Billy you have to play harder", try a positive approach such as "Billy, I know you can do it" and praise every small step of improvement Billy makes.

  2. Give your players lots of encouragement and praise in a visible way so other players and parents see it or hear it.

  3. Give praise for actions you are encouraging at the time they happen.

  4. Give your praise in a way where everyone sees it and hears it so your players know that you are proud of them and the other players know what they can do to earn praise.

  5. When a player does something you want them to do during a game or during practice (like bravery, hustle or great defense), get their attention and yell something like "Good job Sam", smile and make a hand gesture like a thumbs so they can see you are pleased. You might even tell them before the game that if they do something great that you will give them a "thumbs up".

  6. Think about the SPECIFIC positive words and actions you want to use to praise and motivate your players. Remember that you need to be specific both in what you want to encourage AND when you give praise. For example, if a player does something brave during practice and a game, and you can get their attention just after that, you can say "Way to go" or give a thumbs up and they will associate the praise with their behavior.

  7. An example of Positive words and Negative words. Think about the words that can get the best results. For example, every coach wants his or her players to be "aggressive", but "aggressive" has a negative connotation. Many parents discourage "aggressive behavior". I think it is better to use the word "brave" than "aggressive". Heroes are brave and everyone thinks bravery is a good thing. I think "brave" gets better results than "aggressive" because kids want to be brave.

  8. If you wait until half time or after the game to give praise, you need to be specific about what you are praising. For example, say "Great defense Kate" instead of "Good job Kate", so Kate knows what you are praising. If Kate did something specific that you want to encourage, be even more specific so Kate know specifically what you are praising. For example, if Kate is a midfielder who has been good about attacking but has been slow to run back to help defend after losing the ball, you might say "Kate, you saved a goal. That was great defense when you ran back to defend." Remember - you want to encourage and reinforce SPECIFIC behavior, so be specific and say it loud enough that other players hear your praise, that is part of your positive reinforcement and motivation plan.

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