I captain/coach an amateur level team: we can normally meet to practice only once a week, and usually are forced to choose between either focus on fundamentals, stategy, scrimmaging and similar instead of conditioning and working on athletic skills, or to end up using more than half of our time for that, resulting in better athletic condition but worse overall preparation. Players are between 18 and 30 years old (me being the one at almost 30), with varying levels of past sports experience: the most problematic ones in terms of independent training are usually the ones with less experience, regardless of age.

I would like to see every single player dedicate some of their own time to training, e.g. to do conditioning by running, body weight exercises, and so on. Many of them are not used to being involved in sports in general, so even if they try to stick to a training regime, they stop because of forgetfulness, laziness, or whatever else, in the course of 2/3 days.

Are there known methods to increase the players' motivation? I'm thinking for instance competitions among teammates and such. Examples from real experience are most welcome.

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    What age group? – rrirower Jan 11 '16 at 18:46
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    I have seen using a calendar style sheet that was given to each player. The players would fill in the amount of time put in on each day working on skills/conditioning. These were for young kids (6 yrs to 9 yrs). The coach had expectation of 20 min on 4 days / week. Parents signed off as well. If 90% had completed, then the team got a pizza party. – Steven Jan 11 '16 at 20:17
  • Sorry I should have specified the age group, editing the question now – Michele C Jan 11 '16 at 22:38
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    If you find something that works, come back and tell us. This is something my team struggles with too. – Val Jan 12 '16 at 14:45
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    I was an assistant coach for a fencing club for about three years and I can relate to your dilemma. Over time, we decided to encompass fun and competition. Those who were competitive were in the habit of exercising outside of practice and competed at events while those who were there for fun only practiced. In order to bring it together, we would have bouts to end practice to hone the skills of the competitive and give others experience. This approach was adequate for the purposes of our club, but it did motivate those who were there for fun to improve. – user527 Jan 14 '16 at 17:18

Instilling motivation, at any age, is typically a problem most coaches face. It’s a tough challenge to balance fun against hard work regardless of the age group. That’s why direction from the coach is so important. Especially when you consider the time constraints that many adults face.

I’m a member of a rowing club. Our coach meets with each individual member at the beginning of the season to set individual and team goals. He then provides weekly direction via our web site on what the week’s goals are for the team and each individual. We meet three times per week for formal sessions. He then publishes a spreadsheet that indicates the work that each individual team member accomplished during the prior week. For our team, that would mean how many meters did each of us row towards our goals. There’s a subtle inference of peer pressure, but, nothing too serious as we are all working towards the same team goal(s).

Additionally, our sport provides opportunities to participate in virtual “team challenges” for raising funds for charity. That provides some incentive to do the work so that others can benefit.

In my opinion, you will need to make sure you provide direction while ensuring the activity remains fun. But, in the end, each individual is going to decide what he/she is willing to do.

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