Motivation is the important factor in the relationship between the athlete and the coach and hope is the key word in motivation. We all have hopes. The coach, the athlete, everyone. But the goals on which hope is based have to be realistic. It’s no good a coach telling an athlete he can run a four-minute mile when he knows damn well he’s not going to do it. You do not want to build up hopes unnecessarily.
So we’ve got to use realism, otherwise both athlete and coach can be upset. The aim should be a minimum realisation rather than a maximum one. A coach should never tell an athlete he can perform better than a true evaluation of his current development shows. Athletes need to be told why specific aspects of training are being used, both physiologically and mechanically. This is the best form of psychology and motivation to use. This is very important. The coach should appeal to an athlete’s intelligence, explain clearly what every training session means and what they are trying to achieve.
The athletes with the best motivation are those who are well informed, understand their training because it makes sense to them and have confidence in their coach. They can train according to their reactions without working to hypothetical figures, as some coaches insist on, and running into a distressed state. When you are training athletes right through a programme for several months leading up to a big competition, there should be no need to tell them they can beat the opposition because they have gone through it all, understand it, have improved in training, have confidence in what is being done. If the win doesn’t eventuate, they will know it wasn’t through lack of trying.