Fellowship of Christian Athletes Coaches Help Motivate Athletes Through 3Dimensional Coaching®
Founder of 3D Coaching Defines Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivators, Offers Three Strategies for Positively Motivating Athletes
March 11, 2020
KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Over many years, countless coaches engaged with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA, www.fca.org) have been positively influenced by 3Dimensional Coaching®, which is revolutionizing the coaching landscape around the world and helping coaches motivate athletes beyond the typical and temporary rewards of sports.
According to 3D Coaching founder Dr. Jeff Duke, who works closely with FCA, motivation must be broken down into two parts: pursue and persist.
Pursue = I want it.
Persist = I want to stay after it.
“Motivation has to be ongoing; it’s not a one-and-done thing,” says Duke, who’s conducted extensive research on the topic. “In today’s culture, we obviously hope kids want to play well. We want them to give their all, and we want them to continue doing that as they go through the circumstances sports present.”
Once motivation is defined as “pursue and persist,” Duke then breaks motivation into two categories: extrinsic and intrinsic.
Extrinsic motivation means motivating athletes with something outside of themselves. Easily seen and measured, extrinsic motivators include just about everything one would think it does: championships, scholarships, trophies, personal records, money, gear or records. While there’s nothing wrong with these things, says Duke, they simply aren’t the most beneficial ways to motivate athletes in the long run.
Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is less easily measured. Hard to define, but easily seen, it is often recognized when a team “plays with great heart” or when an athlete competes with a sense of curiosity and wonder.
“We’re not saying extrinsic motivation is wrong,” Duke says. “We’re saying it needs to become a blessing. It needs to become the icing on the cake, not the cake itself.
“With extrinsic motivation, nothing will ever be enough,” he adds. “There will always be one more championship, one more ring, one more thing to chase. And if you continue to drive that way, it’s going to cause issues of identity in your life.”
If athletes pursue extrinsic motivations long enough, they eventually begin to internalize them. In fact, according to Duke, research shows that the athlete’s brain will begin to communicate to them specifically that playing sports will get them something, thus leading them to only play sports to get something out of it.
In turn, sports can become the athlete’s whole identity. The problem then becomes evident when sports end.
“By the time people are between ages 17 and 22, they’re predominantly done playing sports in our country, excluding the microscopic number of athletes who play professionally,” says Duke. “But since age 7, these athletes were coached to pursue the external world of sport, and now, all of a sudden, it’s gone. And when their identity falls apart, they need help.”
On the flipside, athletes driven by intrinsic motivators have been shown not only to be less likely to fall apart when they don’t get the trophy or when athletics end, but they also play at their very best while they are competing. One motivator in particular has been shown to stand out above the rest: joy.
“When you look through the Bible, you see that the greatest motivator of all time is the emotion of joy,” says Duke. “If you ever do anything with joy, I don’t care what it is, the research says you will do it at your very best. It’s the most effective motivator there is. And we know from Scripture that joy is rooted in love, and it can only be revealed when you see it happen.”
Intrinsic motivation may not come as naturally to coaches as extrinsic motivation. It’s easier, and even culturally recommended, to offer the next greatest reward as the driver for peak performance. But helping athletes compete out of joy, curiosity, wonder and love involves setting an environment in which these things can naturally flow. In his years with 3D Coaching, Duke has helped thousands of coaches develop strategies for facilitating intrinsic motivation, and he has a number of favorite examples:
- Don’t give out awards at banquets: The public will do a great job of affirming the team’s top athletes, and many will get league awards and recognition in the media. So, for team banquets, coaches can focus on the intrinsic.
- Serve with your team: One coach Duke knows takes his team to serve underprivileged kids for a week during spring break. According to the coach, it’s the No. 1 motivator for his team all year, as it unites the team as “one.” When coaches help instill a sense of curiosity and novelty through serving together, it adds value and gives meaning to their athletes’ lives.
- Go to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Camp: According to Duke, the power of FCA Camp is not that athletes get to increase their sports skills, but in being in community and in learning to love Christ.
Earlier this year, FCA announced its 2020 ministry and Camps theme—100%—which will guide all of 2020. Learn more at www.fcacamps.org.
“When I realize I impact people beyond the playing of the game, that’s a wow moment,” Duke said. “Every coach will make an impact; that’s not a question. It’s whether that impact will be one of beauty or be ugly. So, we try to help coaches realize their impact and start asking internal questions of why they do what they do. Then 3D Coaching and FCA come alongside them through discipleship, nurturing and walking with them.
“A job is something you do to make money to pay for needs in your life, and that’s good. We all need to work. And a career is just a job you’ve had for a long time. But a calling is, ‘Wow, what I do actually impacts others.’ And the impact can be incredible.”
Read more about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes here, visit FCA’s website at www.fca.org, its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/fcafans or its Twitter feed @fcanews.
To interview a Fellowship of Christian Athletes representative, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Patrick Benner, 610.584.1096, ext. 104, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.