Skating On A Motivational Roller Coaster

Do you remember why you wanted to try out and start roller derby? Are your reasons for playing still the same? Reasons tend to change quite drastically, in correlation with your development as a skater and team player. Knowing and understanding what your driving force in playing roller derby is key to understanding your motivation.
Channelling my motivation correctly in roller derby has been a bittersweet challenge from the start. It has gotten easier over the years and I'm happy to finally be able to say that I think I'm starting to get the hang of it. The major contributing factor has been all the feedback, comments and actions from my league mates. Another was questioning myself and my motives; why do I do this? I still ask myself that question all the time, thus I can keep my motivation pure and in check.
The foundation for your motivation lies in understanding it and recognizing its changes. The more you are aware of it the better you will be able to manage any decreases and further increase your motivation.

Types of motivation

There are two main categories of motivation in sports; internal or intrinsic, and external or extrinsic.

Intrinsic is characterized by the pure interest, enjoyment and ability to participate despite any unfavourable conditions.
E.g.: you love to practice, you promptly want to know any rule changes, you want to learn how your skates and gear operate, you are always trying to improve or develop your skating technique and strategic skills, you are able to stay motivated even when you are facing hard times, you love competing at any level and mostly with yourself.

Extrinsic is characterized by outside rewards and benefits such as recognition and prizes, self-imposed guilt and anxiety, and the need for better rewards to keep up motivation.
E.g.: you are training only to get on a team, you want to achieve recognition or an award after a bout, you want praise within the league, you hope to gain attention for being a 'derby girl', you only attend practice to avoid feeling guilty about yourself.

A third form of motivation is known as amotivation. Which is characterized by the lack of interest in the training process or outcome. Feelings of incompetence are often present and there is also a disconnection between behaviour and the desired outcome. Players who do not address amotivation promptly are likely to drop out.

Did you recognize yourself in any of the aforementioned examples? Fear not if you think you're categorized as a certain type of athlete. Motivational behaviour has a tendency to change over time and it is possible to possess all types of motivation at various times. Learn to develop and use different motivations to your advantage. It is normal that your motivation will keep on changing from time to time, taking the odd plunge every once in a while. But there are ways to overcome that.

Here is a structural example and tips on how I learned to identify and deal with my motivation.

Measuring motivation 
If you keep a training diary make a mark or write about your motivation level after every practice and bout.  Keep a simple scale measurement i.e. 1-5, and shortly described what might have contributed to it. When you notice a drop in your motivation level recognise what is causing it. 

Causes in motivational changes
There are a number of different reasons to changes in motivation, anything can be the cause. Such as not getting enough sleep, low fitness level, confidence issues, health issues, poor diet, major life changes, not passing your minimum skills, not making the team cut, major injuries, lack of time management, etc. There are as many reasons as there are players. Once you have pinpointed the reasons behind it try to assess if you have any control over the causes.

Addressing motivational changes
Once you have recognized the issues causing changes in your motivation, try to address those issues accordingly if you want to maintain a good level in your motivation. Focus on situations that you can control. If there are reasons beyond your control, either forget about them or give yourself permission and take time to readjust where needed. The first and foremost issues which I have complete control over is getting enough rest, eating well, cross training, and taking care of my body. When it comes to motivation and playing roller derby those go a long way. 

Maintaining motivation

Once you are aware of reasons behind motivational change think about your short or long term goals and consider if they need readjusting. Tell yourself where you want to be and what you want to achieve and in what time frame. Then focus on the nitty-gritty at practice, not on your goal. Be always mindful of where you want improvement and try to work on it when you can. Learn some self-discipline to get rid of any bad habits that conflict with your improvement. Never compare yourself to other athletes, strive to be better tomorrow than what you were yesterday.  Let go of failures after you’ve learned from them.

Increasing motivation

The more you learn, the better you will skate, thus your motivation will increase. Talk to your team mates, and coaches about your plans and ask for feedback and any tips on how to become better. Focus on simple tasks and breakdowns of techniques and skills which you are set out to learn. Tackle things that you find difficult to master, and learn them with patience. Surround yourself with highly motivated people as their energy will rub off on you. Learn to do things that are way out of your comfort zone, you will eventually master them comfortably. Sometimes we all need to take a day or two off to live life and it is ok to do that. Taking a short break will most likely increase your motivation.

Motivation is an ongoing roller coaster ride and at times it has made me ponder whether it is worth all the ups and downs. I came to the conclusion that every motivational low I have experienced over the years has been worth it. No matter how bad I felt, getting back up from a low is a learning process, and it feels great once you have gone through it. Every time I feel that I become a better person, skater and team player, and end up having much more fun.

Go be the best you can, and even better!!!

Adelle #3:33