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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Motivation: Part I


-Motivation of colleges athlete by coaches to play hard & win and coaches who do this well.

We recently read an article from one of our favorite bloggers about motivation of college athletes by coaches. We liked the concept so much that we decided to do a similar article here at CARDINAL COUPLE. We expaned upon the idea of just asking coaches and sought out the opinions of coaches, fans and former college athletes. The questions were:

1) What do you think a coach should do to motivate their team to play hard and win?

2) Which coaches (women's college basketball) do you think are the best motivators?

We weren't sure how many responses we would get. After receiving ten responses (six readers/fans, two coaches and two former athletes..) we decided to do a "Part I" of this topic. We'll run "Part II" when we get more responses. The responses below are listed verbatim (edited and spell-checked where necessary) and have the respondants' first name and last name initial. Enjoy and reflect...and be advised today's column is a quite lengthy one...

--Mark S. (reader)

I guess motivation would depend on the team the coach has at the time. Each player is different. What motivates one player may not motivate another. Some players respond differently to the same tactics. That being are ways to motivate:

1) Throw down a challenge. Could be done by setting a goal for an individual player or the team itself. Example: Hold a certain player below 10 points or have less than ten turnovers. If goals are reached, reward the player/team. Rewards could be praise, a day off, or team get-together (dinner, movie, etc.)
2) Make practices fun for the team
3) Be enthusiastic--that enthusiasm can carry over to the players.
4) Have the team do things together to build team unity.
5) Discipline is a key. Make sure it is consistent.
6) Communicate well with the team.

Best motivators: Jeff Walz, Brenda Frese, Geno Auriemma, Pat Summit, Matthew Mitchell, Harry Perretta, C.Vivian Stringer and Doug Bruno.

--Norman S. (reader)

If I were a coach, first it would be about the fans. Louisville's fans love these ladies, regardless of their athletic ability. These fans are there in large numbers to help them play well and win. The coaches should be doing their best for the Louisville fans. Second, it is just being the best of the best. They wouldn't be here if they did not want to compete at the highest level. The pro game, for the ladies, is not yet a motivating factor, in my opinion.

Coaches. Obviously Coach Walz was at his best during the second half of the UConn game (or maybe it was the fans). and in last year's tournament run. He is good. It is difficult for me to judge the others. The coaches at Stanford, UConn, Rutgers & Baylor must be good motivators. The job that last year's National Champs coach, Gary Blair, did was outstanding.

I want to throw this in, too. The coach of the Alabama men's team (Anthony Grant) has the best court side demeanor of any coach, men's or women's. I can't believe that screaming in a player's about his or her errors, mistakes or shortcomings is doing any good. I think Coach Walz is guilty of this too often. That's my opinion.

-- Mary B. (former player)

Paul, what motivated me wasn't so much the coaches but the success of the team back when I played. I didn't always start or play a lot at times but when I was out there - doing the best I could for the team was my motivation factor. We wanted to win. If I played well it would help our chances to win. I played with players that weren't motivated and no amount of coaching could get them there. It was all about their numbers and the heck with the team. I guess their success was their motivation.

I had coaches that would try to motivate by positives and negatives. Coaches I didn't like because of their motivational attempts and tactics. But, I always found that motivation had to come from within. Maybe I'm different.

Coaches I think that are good at attempting motivation for women's college basketball are McGraw at Notre Dame, Elliott at UC, Bruno at DePaul and Mulkey at Baylor. I think Walz at Louisville is an OK motivator but he seems to lose his team at times and that just might be the players, not him, but it can be distressing at times. 

Thanks for asking me to participate! Say Hi to Ms. Sonja for me. I still miss our practices and games in high school. She was a pretty motivated player and it didn't come from coaching either, Lord knows! We had the worst coach in the history of high school basketball. Ha. Ha. 

Shirley B. (reader)

I believe motivation must first come from within the athlete before they can respond in a positive way to a coach. They must feel that the team is #1 prior to their own glory. Once an athlete has this feeling, most of them will look for ways to have this be demonstrated. This will come from a coach pulling together the unique qualities from each of his players. This can only be achieved through a consistent and calm approach. This does not mean that excitement should be deleted from coaching. A positive critique to all segments of the game should be interwoven among the criticism. Each player and each coach will bring something to the game and the team. 

A great coach will identify the individual offerings and assist the player to be aware of what they can offer. There must be a willingness to be a team player and be willing to accept your role. This must always come before any individual, coach or team can truly be called a "Winner." Motivation is very important but the individual must first want to receive it.

Michelle K. (coach)

- I have three very simple rules about motivating players.

1) They must be able to handle motivation of different types. Sometimes it may be positive, sometimes it isn't.

2) They must understand that desire and motivation are not the same thing. A girl may desire to score 20 points a game but if she isn't motivated to go out and do the work and practice to be that kind of player, it's no good.

3) Motivation is a continuous process. Today's players have way too many "entitlement" issues. That doesn't get it. No one is entitled and I will motivate you out of that mind-set, if you have it, continuously until you lose it or you won't play for me. I will keep you motivated if you will give me your best or slack off, don't worry!

My favorite motivational women's college basketball coaches are Pat, Geno, C. Viv and Nikki Caldwell. 

David W. (reader) 

A coaches greatest motivational tool is the very aspect of his or her players being able to have the chance to do something that very few high school athletes get to do. Play in college. Take a Louisville, Notre Dame or even a Ball State. Players get a free education. Free housing. Free meals. Expert training. A safe environment for four years. There should be no other motivation  factor bigger than that -- unless the team is a national or conference title contender. Then, acheiving the championship can be a strong motivator as well. I read a lot of things. I see a lot of players list their goals to get to Denver, where they're playing the NCAA Women's Championship this year. That's fine and well, if they have a legit shot. Otherwise, it's daydreaming and self-centered.

Coaches I think that do a very good job of motivating their teams are Geno Auriemma, Muffet McGraw, Brenda Frese, Tara Vanderveer and Kim Mulkey. That would be my top five.

Quentin V. (reader)

Have detailed benchmarks established for a player's performance. Share them with the player and provide feedback regarding the player's degree of achievement and provide tools, that if used, will make achievement possible. If a player is not willing to work to achieve goals established, let that player go.

Best coaches: Pat Summit, Geno Auriemma, Jeff Walz.

D.G.  (ex-player)

I will be straight up with you on motivation the way I looked at it when I played. I hated to lose and I hated to play bad. Coaches motivation only made that better or worse depending on how it was going. Yelling at me, finger pointing, none of that deal worked because -  I knew when I messed up or didn't play good - and didn't need a reminder. OK? I saw my teammates and me as one unit working together and when one part was not working right you either fixed it or replaced it. Just like your car or furnace. I knew I would never play in the NBA or past college but I was motivated by wins and great games. Some coaches, I swear, I don't know how they keep their jobs and have the wrong mind set when it breaks down to motivation. You want to pull me because I missed a wide open shot and then fouled a guy on the play after? Fine. Pull me. But did you forget about the three rebounds, the steal and the two assists I had before that? GIve me a chance to play through it.  

Don't know a lot about the women's coaches. I can tell you that I like the fire Walz brings to the sidelines. Don't know how good a motivator he is but he really gets into getting his team to perform well. The guy is always coaching on the sidelines. His Louisville teams been pretty good since he has been there. Mitchell at UK seems to get a lot out his girls. Also, I liked the guy who was women's coach at MTSU when I played there. Rick Insell. He was great to talk to and had those girls big time motivated. If I was a girl, I think I would have enjoyed playing for him.  

Rex E. (coach)


1) I try to get them to realise it is THEIR team and I just happen to be the coach. So if they want to have a memorable experience and achievement THEY share a big part of the responsibility. I want them to make the season what they dream it to be.

2) A deep sense of responsibility to themselves and others. It is our responsibility to represent the university, athletic dept., families, alumni and fans in a first class way. 

Coach E.

Bill and Barbara H. (fans)

#1 - Bill- Be encouraging.
        Barb - Accentuate the positives.

#2 - Bill - Doug Bruno
        Barb - Pat Summit.

OK. I know this is a long column today and I hope you made it through it and enjoyed it. Some very great, revealing and informative responses here.

If you have a "take" on this subject, feel free to e-mail us at  If you want to comment on any of these responses, feel free to e-mail or leave your opinion in the comments section. Thanks for reading!


  1. This is a very GREAT article today Cardinal Couple. I played in h.s. and for awhile in college before injury put me on the sideline. Not in basketball. Motivation got to come from within. Don't matter what sport it be. You a golfer and you want to hit well and putt well. No coaching change that. You a hoops player and you got to get up inside you and give your best. If it not good enough you work that much harder to get better.

    1. My motivation always came from the post-game parties we'd have at one of the cheerleader's parents


    2. LOL. Paul, I know better. You were one of the most motivated guys I ever saw on the field or on the court. Shame you didn't have any talent.


    3. OK, Stan. Fine. At least I knew what the backboard was for. +1.


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