This article was originally posted on Beyond the Ball, a football coaching blog focused on the mental aspects of the game.  These Six Principles to Fuel Self-Motivation are applicable to coaches of all sports and are great areas of focus for off-season reflection.  One of our missions at MaxOne is to empower coaches to be more productive – check out our demo videos to see how we can help. 




It is impossible to motivate someone who does not want to be motivated. This makes self-motivation and teaching the importance of being a “self-starter” all the more critical to player development. Once a player has a desire to achieve a task, how can a coach keep the flame of motivation burning until the job is done?


Rice’s Leadership Fitness

I have recently been digging into Coach Homer Rice’s book, Leadership Fitness. It is a practical approach to successful living through the eyes of a football coach. Coach Rice details his “Attitude Technique” that he fine tuned over his own career and believes it to be what propelled him to professional success (high school, college, and NFL head coach as well as Athletic Director at North Carolina, Rice, and Georgia Tech).

In his book, Rice has “Principles of Self-Motivation.” Realistically, these tenets look very similar to a goal-setting program, but I happen to prefer “self-motivation principles” over “goal-setting.”

Here is a rundown and paraphrase of Coach Rice’s self-motivation principles:


1) Desire

Rice isn’t referring to the deep-seeded virtue of desire (the type of desire that propels people to greatness). He simply means to recognize that there is something that you want at the most basic level.

  • State your desire by writing it down with a deadline attached
  • Declare what you are willing to give up for the task to be achieved (“you will not receive anything without giving”)


2) Belief

Establish faith that you can accomplish the task. Visualize the completed task (“we attract what we fix our thought upon”).

  • THINK inspired, creative, dynamic, successful thoughts
  • VISUALIZE achievement and perfection
  • FEEL successful, confident, healthy, and strong
  • ACT confident, decisive, aggressive (without fear), and bold


3) Imagination

Think creatively for ways to accomplish the goal. Hunt for ways to enjoy accomplishing the task.


4) Organize a Plan

Plan to have time to plan. Create quiet space where you can focus and concentrate on what needs to be accomplished and how it can get done. 

Let others in on your goal not only for accountability but also for a fresh perspective. They can help you establish a plan that recognizes what you are doing each day and why you are doing it.


5) Decide

Learn to make decisions that will help you achieve your goal. “In not deciding, you fail to act; and in failing to act, you invite complete failure.”


6) Persist

“Persistence is a state of mind and can be cultivated.” This comes from a positive attitude that refuses to accept defeat. Do not allow minor setbacks to derail you from your mission.