Our Youth Need Our Help to Stay Focussed
With a young child, having a schedule is very important; almost as important as school and sport are for our teenagers. Motivation and initiative among youth has seen a sharp decline across the board since March 13th, and as a high school teacher I have witnessed this first hand. “Who cares if I don’t do any more work?”. “What difference does it make?”. “Why hand in any assignments if my mark can’t go down?”.
Holding oneself accountable can be difficult enough when there is someone watching. Remove that someone (in the current case, everyone), and who’s left to provide motivation?
As those who watched “The Last Dance” can recount, Michael Jordan was always playing a game within a game; he created reasons why he had to perform every game, and even made some of those reasons up. Real or fabricated, he knew how to create intrinsic motivation and enable himself to perform to the best of his ability.
That doesn’t mean self-motivation is easy. In fact, it’s incredibly difficult for children and adults alike, and that’s before you throw in a global pandemic. As a collective society, we’re struggling; we’ve never had to do this before. Self-motivation is a tool that is not easily learned, and from the lack of routine to the absence of connection, it’s even harder to foster in isolation.
So how do you build that fire inside when no one is watching?
You ask yourself why (5x). Get to the root of why you do or don’t want to do something. Whether it be love or fear, understanding why is most important. Then acknowledge that the hard work that’s required won’t be easy. Fortunately, a little struggle and adversity makes us work harder and come out stronger than we were before.
If you don’t want to shoot when no one is around, no one is going to make you. We’re without teammates and coaches physically… but that doesn’t mean our community is gone. Challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone and to be accountable to yourself, but don’t do it alone; ask a friend or teammate to join you (virtually or at a distance). Set daily and weekly goals together and review regularly with encouragement to stay on track. Asking a coach or mentor for guidance can provide a great deal of benefits; regularly asking for and implementing feedback makes you a stronger person. We’re learning how to navigate new territory and now more than ever, we have the opportunity to come together and support one another in ways that didn’t previously exist.
It’s the work you put in during the offseason that makes the most difference... and this may be a long off-season.
This post was written by Right Way coach, Jen O’Connor, a former USPORTS Basketball Alumna, who is currently a secondary school teacher and coach in Ottawa.