5 tips to stay motivated while learning a new sport

Motivation is one of the main factors that drives any individual to do what they love and excel at it. Usually when it comes to sports or exercise, motivation poses as the heart of many problems. Motivation as a factor can affect many variables such as persistence, learning and performance (Pelletier et al. 1995). Lets read further to know 5 tips to stay motivated while learning a new sport.

Types of motivation:

There are several factors that motivate an individual to play a sport. These factors include intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Researchers have suggested that individuals who perceive themselves having a high level of competence and self-control in achieving certain things will be more intrinsically motivated to remain involved and put in effort while experiencing positive effects as compared to individuals who are low on these characteristics (Theeboom et al.1995). For example, person A might find it extremely easy to be internally motivated to stay active and continue playing the sport he wants to eventually succeed at. While for person B, she might not have the same level of internal motivation, and might need to be externally motivated by coaches, friends or parents to continually put in an effort to succeed in the sport and observe some sort of success.

These two types of motivation, namely extrinsic and intrinsic motivation are very important when it comes to motivation: (Hinch, 2020)

  1. Extrinsic motivation is the use of external factors to motivate an individual. This can be both positive and negative. Coaches usually adopt the same strategy, for example for positive motivation, the coach can give the promise of a rest day while negative motivation could be extra days of training.
  2. Intrinsic motivation on the other hand is the internal desire of the individual to continue playing and improving in the sport to achieve and succeed.
Why cant we stay motivated?

It is important to ask yourself the question as to why is it so hard to maintain a level of motivation while playing the sport? Is it because you are being forced to play it, or because you think you aren’t doing good enough? You might also have a lack of motivation because you have not set any clear goals in your head as to why you are playing the sport. It isn’t necessary that you play the sport to compete at a certain level but it could even be a smaller goal such as, you want to improve your stamina or your health. You might also be demotivated to play the sport because it is not fitting in your daily routine and just posing as an added burden or a factor of stress.

Learning a new sport and staying consistent can be boring, exhausting, repetitive and after a point it could feel like it isn’t enjoyable. You might also consider leaving the sport because you think you have not seen any improvement in your game in a while. Being an athlete requires a lot of motivation and this can seem mundane after a certain point. It also boils down to how an individual will react in a certain situation.

Let us take a scenario where during a playoff game, player X, is motivated to take risks and raise the level of play. He is energized, focused and wants to put his best foot forward by demonstrating his skills and abilities. On the contrary, player Y, may be fearful of making mistakes since it is a playoff and the stakes are too high. He may also not have much motivation to make mistakes and thus, might not put his best foot forward during a match where it is truly needed.

For some individuals consistently maintaining the level of motivation is difficult and tips to help stay motivated while learning a new sport are helpful.

Here are 5 tips to help stay motivated while learning to play a new sport:
  1. Teaming up with a training buddy or playing a team sport could help encourage ones motivation levels. By challenging each other during training sessions, a partner or a friend could provide as healthy competition in boosting ones motivation levels.
  2. Creating realistic goals, both short term and long term, will not only help you keep yourself in track but also help you understand whether you are being able to commit to reaching the goals that you have set for yourself. You can create goals even for practice sessions by asking yourself questions such as, “What do I need to do today to push myself closer towards achieving my goals?”. This way one can self-monitor progress to stay motivated during the course of the sport.
  3. Using positive self-talk on days that you do not feel as motivated could also prove as a motivation booster. For example, You’re running in an endurance event and thinking, “I’m never going to finish! I can’t do it!” This is where the self-talk comes into the picture where you can fight back and motivate yourself by saying, “I know I can do this! I’ve been training 5 days a week for 3 months to prepare for this event!” Using self-talk cues or statements such as “Take a deep breath” or “I’m okay” can release the nervousness you might be feeling as well. Or simply repeating the word “focus” might help you concentrate on the task at hand.

Why is self-talk so beneficial? Motivational self-talk boosts performance by helping you build confidence, enhance your belief in your ability to perform, reduce jitters, and improve your mood. It’s also particularly useful for tasks that involve strength and endurance, reaction time when faced with making a choice, or speed. Motivational self-talk can improve reaction time and enhance your physical performance when it comes to balance and vertical jumps too.

  • 4. Commend yourself on even the small wins. Sometimes winning does not only mean obtaining a trophy or a medal in your hand to prove you have achieved something. Obtaining small wins could even be performing an extra rep or running an extra mile and that indicates some form of progress that you should definitely consider patting yourself on the back about.
  • 5. Make sure you pen down time for your sport in your daily routine. With the hustle and bustle of an everyday routine, playing the sport might feel like an added burden. Make a conscious effort to leave out time for your sport and this can make a remarkable difference.

Lastly, remember not to be too hard on yourself because if you are, you might give up on the sport as soon as you start it. Finding the right sport as per your interests and fitness levels is also something you should consider. Document your progress in a notebook or a journal because that way you can also have a tangible way of looking back at where you started and how much you have progressed since. Overall, do not forget to embrace and enjoy the journey of learning and give yourself room to make mistakes and use these 5 tips to stay motivated while learning a new sport.


Hinch, Will. (2020). 10 really effective ways to motivate your sports team. Pitchero, retrieved from https://blog.pitchero.com/10-really-effective-ways-to-motivate-your-sports-team

Pelletier, Luc G.; Tuson, Kim M.; Fortier, Michelle S.; Vallerand, Robert J.; Briére, Nathalie M.; Blais, Marc R. (1995). Toward a New Measure of Intrinsic Motivation, Extrinsic Motivation, and Amotivation in Sports: The Sport Motivation Scale (SMS). Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 17(1), 35–53

Theeboom, Marc; De Knop, Paul; Weiss, Maureen R. (1995). Motivational Climate, Psychological Responses, and Motor Skill Development in Children’s Sport: A Field-Based Intervention Study. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 17(3), 294–311.


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