The River Tiger Podcast

Creating optimal learning environments and supporting motivation

March 27, 2023 Marianne Davies Season 1 Episode 25
The River Tiger Podcast
Creating optimal learning environments and supporting motivation
Show Notes

This is an audio version of the Motivation series I wrote a few years ago. It provides an introduction to motivation and learning and how coaching behaviours can have a big influence on both.

The key themes covered are:

Part 1. Motivation Theories

There are many theories about motivation, but the one we’ll look at here is particularly useful for sports coaches and leaders. It is called the Self Determination Theory, or SDT for short. SDT is made up of a number of micro-theories one of which is called the Basic Psychological Needs Theory. According to the Basic Psychological Needs Theory, motivation to engage in an activity is influenced by the support, and subsequent satisfaction of, three innate basic needs. These are the need for:

  1. Autonomy (a sense of control over your own life and personal volition),
  2. Competence (the need to be effective and skilful),
  3. Relatedness (the desire to feel connected to, and cared for, by others).

Part 2. Autonomy-supportive coaching behaviours

According to Mageau and Vallerand (2003), the coach’s autonomy-supportive behaviours directly influence the participant or athlete’s perceptions of competence, autonomy and relatedness.

So, how do we ensure that we are being autonomy supportive in our coaching? Mageau and Vallerand have come up with seven autonomy-supportive coaching behaviours.

  1. Provide choice within structure, specific rules and limits
  2. Provide a rationale for tasks and limits
  3. Acknowledge negative feelings
  4. Provide opportunities to take initiatives and work independently
  5. Provide non-controlling competence feedback
  6. Use non-controlling language, avoid controlling behaviours, and use competition and rewards wisely
  7. Promote a mastery rather than ego involvement (promote achievement).

Part 3. Increasing skill acquisition - who is making the decisions?

Within more traditional sports, as well as equestrian and adventure activities, deliberate practice has typically consisted of coach-led sessions. In a coach-led session, the coach makes all the decisions. The coach defines the learning environment and provides the technical and tactical content considered necessary for developing skilful performance, and gives error correcting feedback. The research that guided this practice paid little attention to how coaches could support the needs of those they coached.  In fact, motor learning research did not consider motivation at all until recently. There appears to have been an assumption that in sports settings people are already self-motivated. Motivation was, therefore, something that was only important if someone did not have any at all. (And then, only to get people active who needed to be for health reasons.)

Thankfully, there has been a recent change in focus.  Both researchers and practitioners have moved away from considering movement learning as just being about how a coach can effectively impart information. This wider view has resulted in an approach that is more learner-focused.

This is the link to the articles on the Dynamics Coaching website