Winning is an easy motivator. But a true champion needs a motivation beyond winning, right? When you attempt to inspire your team to work harder after losing, falling short of expectations or having a less than expected season, I assure you it is no easy task. Motivating a team that has no other reason to be out on that field, no other reason to spend money and time on a pursuit that has nothing more to offer than a prideful glory… that is a feat. Maintaining team motivation is especially difficult at the divisional level because of individual player’s personal levels of commitment (family, school, money). I am pretty sure it was President Eisenhower who said, “Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.” Well alrightie then Dwight…
But how? Remember, it is motivation not manipulation. These two should never be confused. Any attempt to motivate in this context should be based off discipline. This obviously has a lot to do with the attitudes and drivers associated with your team (that whole environment deal we have talked about before). If you have recruited wisely, it shouldn’t be too far of a leap to make happen. Remember, the secret of discipline is motivation. When a man or team is sufficiently motivated, discipline will take care of itself.
The Prime leadership has always believed and continues to believe in hard working players. I will take the motivated hard working player over the super star every time. Why? Because motivation will, over time, almost always beat out talent alone. But here’s the catch; motivation only gets you so far. It gets you started. Once that hard work becomes a habit, then you really start to see results. So you need to learn how to convince your team to develop the habit of working hard. Sure, you can have a player who is worth two players but he can’t be two people. He needs to inspire the guy next to him to step up and then it needs to become contagious. The domino effect, if you will. There are some who believe that motivation is “easy” – eliminate those who aren’t motivated. Now, that shouldn’t be confused with creating fear. Sure, that may work in the zombie apocalypse if your name is Carol but that doesn’t usually work for paintball teams. You can motivate by reward but how many of us, besides professional programs, have the means to do this right? Both ways have their merits I suppose but the best motivator? That will always be self- motivation.
The off season tells the tale of a paintball team whether it is the team’s rebirth/rejuvenation or the beginning of its death/demise. The off season is where you see where each member’s level of motivation (commitment to improving) really lies and it can almost certainly tell you how well you may expect to do (especially in the divisional levels) the following season. Everyone knows, and I think this applies in all sports; champions are made in the off season.
Now, every team needs a break from the grind, a time to heal, rest up physically or depending on the team’s performance that season, mentally. I have nightmares about how our competition, the teams we will be facing next season (and those that beat us the previous season), are outworking us. They are all homeschooled or have unlimited funds and paint and sponsorships and practice every day. And then there is us… we only have a few weekends to prepare for them. I mean, it really is a lot of sleepless nights for me. Of course I recognize these as nightmares and not reality. However, they get the better of me sometimes, especially if my guys have a lot going on and struggle to get to practice (hint, hint).
Remember the saying that “Hard work beats talent, when talent fails to work hard”? Here are some ideas I have thought about to motivate my guys. Perhaps you might want to use them as well. They may work, they may not, but we are darn sure going to try them and see what it gets us:
- Remember how we have talked about training tired? One of the ways I motivate myself when I am out there with Prime and I am tired is, I will remember a team or match we lost during the season (for this off season, I don’t have to think too hard… just back to World Cup). I will fire myself up by dedicating my efforts to “those guys”. For example, right before I get on the box to start a drill or point, I will think to myself “This one is for Team so and so”. Now, there is no reason that this can’t be a team effort as well. Perhaps when you get to practice, your team captain says we are dedicating this practice to that loss at Cup! And every opportunity you have, you mention it throughout the day. That will get some blood flowing, I bet.
- I thought of this one the other day. Pin a print out or list of your teams finishes for the past season up where everyone can see it. Remember how they felt? Yeah, well I remember every one of them and to me that is motivating. If you see guys on the team that are OKAY with those finishes, especially if they aren’t podium finishes…cull them. You could even combine this one with the first by posting a picture of the teams that beat you that past season… oh yeah… that’s motivation there.
I want to devour the liver of my enemies! Motivation…
- Have a very organized schedule. As soon as the season ends, this is the time to develop a schedule that might involve a team dinner or team activity. It is also important to give them a few weeks off but then make sure they understand it is time to work. Plan drill days; work out days, clinics, whatever you have to do to keep them focused on the goal of getting better for the next season. Once the schedule is solidified, stick to it. There should be no surprises and they can ask employers for those days off work. Talk to as many of your players as you can and do your best to match schedules.
- Not every team can do this one but now that Prime has lights; I plan on being available during the week. I am actually excited about practicing in the evening, especially during the season (when it is much cooler in balmy Alabama). If you can find the time, set up dates that aren’t status quo. It doesn’t have to be with a paintball gun. It can be getting together in the gym or track to run.
- Acknowledge those that put in the work. Whether it is through social media announcements, internal emails let those who do put in the time and effort know that you see it. I once gave out fun “dollar store” toys to the guys. They got to pick their prize. Turned out to be pretty fun and everyone had a laugh (but you could tell it was appreciated). Recognition can be a great motivator.
“If you ain’t first, you’re last” – strive for #1
And those are just a few of the ideas. What are some of yours? Post them up or let me know. Shoot me a message on our public Facebook page or hit us up on our PBNation thread in the Alabama forum found in the Southeast area.
Whatever you do… do SOMETHING. Because if you don’t, well… you’ll get what you put in.
Oh, before I forget a big thank you to one of our biggest supporters, Ken Osvath! He’s the man who keeps the pit running smooth for team prime. And he is a great motivator! Check out this video he made to pump us up (click the link below)
In the meantime, be water my friends