Coaches who work with young people know that one of the issues affecting their archer’s success at, and enjoyment of, archery is motivation. In fact, I break down archers into three categories: recreational, competitive, and serious competitive archers. To find out which category one of your students is in, just give them a drill to do. At the next lesson, ask them if they’ve done the drill as recommended. The recreational archers will somehow have forgotten to do that or just shrug, indicating they didn’t do the drill. This is not bad behavior on their part, they are just telling you what their motivation is. They are in archery because it is fun. This is the motivation of a recreational archer. Drills are not fun, so recreational archers rarely can find the energy to do them. So, now you know.

Competitive archers will have done the drill because they see the drill as a way of increasing their ability to be competitive. Serious competitive archers will have sent an email/text between lessons asking if there were anything else they could do in addition. :o)

Americans have been fed a load of steaming bullstuff when it comes to motivation. The bulk of it involves rewards. If I do A, then I get B as a reward. It is the basis of our “pay as we go” society: if we do our job, our employer pays us. Is this the actual motivation, though?

Modern studies have shown that for more modern jobs, that rewards don’t work well at all. Rewards can actually undermine performance. But there are things that do motivate people much better, such as: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Many, many people seek more autonomy, that is control over what they do. Others are motivated to find mastery, become more expert at what they do to the point of having mastered a skill set. And others prefer to work toward a purpose they find worthy.

I was drawn to teaching as my profession because I felt that, in that way, I could earn a living while doing people some good. That is being motivated by a purpose.

Archery provides a number of these motivations. Striving for mastery is clearly one. Becoming autonomous as an archer may be a small motivation (learning to take care of your equipment so you don’t have to depend upon others, for example). There doesn’t seem to be a purpose in archery as a modern hobby. Not an outer purpose, except in the fact that archery is a very reflective sport. It allows us to see ourselves in a non-threatening manner and so learn how to create a “me” that is more to our liking.

I am not claiming that archers spend any time at all thinking about such things, but they are there.

So, if a student asks about how they can become more motivated, the above may help you get past the boring “goal setting” talks that we were wont to give in the past. Is their own self-sufficiency something they are interested in (autonomy)? Do they seek mastery? (Do they eat, drink, and breathe archery?) Do they see their participation having a purpose?

Archery is a journey, a journey of self-discovery. You may be helping them learn things about themselves that they did not previous recognize, and that, I think, is a good thing.

So, do I have a purpose in writing about archery? Yes, I still like to think that what I am doing is helping you and your students. I have a purpose in doing this and that is it, part of it anyway.


Filed under For All Coaches

2 responses to “Motivation

  1. Buddy Oswald

    Yes, Steve, your blog and books are a tremendous resource. Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge and expertise. Buddy


  2. Thank you, I appreciate the kind words.


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