Onloan striker Graham Cummins pens the latest player blog...
Motivation is an extremely important factor when it comes to an athlete. Motivation can be extremely difficult to identify because what motivates one person may not motivate another. Within a team what should be motivating them is the ultimate goal of achieving their ambitions come the end of the season, whether that is avoiding relegation or achieving promotion; however there are a number of factors that will motivate a player on a day to day basis.
Every week players find themselves sitting in the stand watching their team play on a Saturday afternoon rather than playing in the match and this can be a very difficult time for a player who may find it hard to be motivated themselves, as I can tell you from my own experience. Sometimes you feel that you are training to the best of your ability and also doing well in reserve games, however come a Saturday afternoon you find yourself in an unwanted position of sitting in the stands. Players in these situations must just keep believing that one day their chance will come because if they don’t and they let their standards drop they will inevitably see themselves fade into the background and find themselves without a club at the end of the season.
As like others I am motivated to achieve success in order to provide for my family and also to make them proud. Athletes want to provide the best for their family and also want their families to feel proud to tell people that that is their son/brother/husband/father. Doing it for your family can be the ideal motivator however it can also cause a lot of pressure, the pressure of failing and letting down your loved ones. I have felt like this going onto a pitch thinking of how the outcome of the game could affect my family and consequently affect my performance.
There are also situations when a player is injured and is facing a long time on the side-lines. When you are injured you can become isolated, and feel as if you are not part of the team because you arrive and leave at different times every day, you are never training with the team and never taking to the field alongside them on a Saturday afternoon. While you are injured, players may question themselves - will they return the same player as they were before the injury and can they ever see themselves getting back into the team? But players must motivate themselves in believing that they will return as strong, if not stronger than before the injury. During my time at Preston North End, Scott Laird suffered a major injury. Lairdy had been one of the players of the season but suffered a double leg break, this could leave a lot of players feel sorry for themselves, but I have great admiration for Scott because when he came back from the injury, although he was not himself, he was determined to get back to the level he was at and I was delighted to see him nominated for player of the month for September.
Players can of course be motivated by inspirational words that make them want to go out and win at all costs. I’ve had two stand out speeches for me throughout my career; one was when I was twelve years of age playing in my first county final with my local GAA club Nemo Rangers. We went to our ground before we travelled to the match, to listen to what was either the most inspiring or frightening team talk we had ever heard. The manager was a typically quite man and was never one for big speeches but that night he spoke about how he would do anything to be playing and how he would cut off his right arm to play. Now as twelve year olds we had never heard anything like this before and we got onto the bus questioning whether the manager had just motivated us to go out and win or whether he had scared us into thinking what he would do if we lost, in the end we did win, thankfully. The second speech I can remember was for a derby match back home in which we were massive underdogs but the Cork hurling keeper at the time came into the dressing room and was like a man possessed as he delivered one of the most inspiring speeches I had ever heard.
We can also be motivated by other players around us and seeing lads working to their maximum level until they are in pain in order to improve themselves can motivate another to do the same. Whilst on the pitch, whether it be a bit of individual brilliance with the ball ending up in the top corner of the net, or a player putting his body on the line in order to prevent a goal, can lift and motivate a team. Remember Roy Keane’s famous tunnel bust up with Patrick Vieira when he stood up for his fellow teammate Gary Neville? I’m sure that this motivated the whole of the United’s team and there was only ever going to be one winner after that confrontation!
Players can be motivated by many things security, self-esteem, self-actualisation, but what motivates me is the feeling of achieving the goals of the team at the end of the season and knowing that all of the hard work you have put in, the ups and downs that you have felt over the past ten months, have been worth it.
Up The Dale!