Motivation is the force that helps direct or sustain behavior. We use the word just about every day without knowing how powerful it really is. It can be as simple as drinking water when thirsty, or more complex like deciding to join a mixed martial arts gym. The reasons for our motivation can be both internally and externally driven. The motivation behind learning MMA could be to learn something new, to learn self defense, or to meet new people. No matter what the reason was behind you starting in MMA, it was motivation that got you there. It is also motivation that keeps you going and makes you a better martial artist. The more you understand about motivation, the more you can help yourself, your child, or your students succeed in and continue practicing the martial arts.
Motivation can be either intrinsic or extrinsic. An individual is intrinsically motivated when they do a task for their own interest or enjoyment. For example, reading a book about motivation because it is a topic you are interested in. Extrinsic motivations are things like rewards, trophies, money, or praise. It is imperative that you understand what type of motivation drives you, your student, or your child, since extrinsic rewards will not always work on intrinsically motivated people. While this is good to know for everyone, this is especially vital for parents, coaches, or instructors. No coach or parent wants to push away a child, student, or competitor by giving them the wrong rewards.
Rewards can be either controlling or informational. Controlling rewards, like trophies, are for influencing or controlling behavior. Informational rewards give an individual information about their competence at a task. Controlling rewards decrease intrinsic motivation, while informational rewards actually increase intrinsic motivation. Since rewards are used to reinforce positive or desired behavior, it is essential for anyone to know the difference between these two types of rewards, plus the types of motivation.
While it might sound like intrinsically motivated people would not be interested in competition, this is not true. Competition has been found to increase intrinsic motivation because it is a challenge and it allows the person to compare their skills with others. Also, winning leads to a higher level of intrinsic motivation because it increases the perception of competence. So, if you, your child, or student is intrinsically motivated it might actually benefit them to compete.
The external and internal environment has a huge influence on our motivations. When we are hungry we eat, thirsty we drink, tired we rest, and so on. However, motivation is also a conscious decision. Just because we are hungry does not mean that we will leave the mat in the middle of class and eat. Our drive to be in class has to prevail over the drive to leave and eat. This does not mean that our performance will not be affected by our hunger or thirst. So to increase your enjoyment and performance during class you should try to lower all other motivations. The less excuses you have, the more likely you are to train and train hard.
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