We use cookies to give you the best experience and to help improve our website. By using our website you are accepting our cookies.  Learn More

UK Coaching Participation Team
All People

Understanding Motivations

Provides insight to help coaches understand the importance of what motivates people to be active

If we understand people we are more likely to have more successful outcomes in helping them become more active. One key part of getting to know people is to understand their motivations for turning up to your session. There will always be a reason why people do everything. 

Everyone is different and will therefore have different reasons or motivations for taking part based on their different experiences, personality, and lifestyle factors including family and friends. Don’t forget that people can have more than one motivation at the same time and that motivations can shift and change as people progress and become more capable at being active.

UK Coaching and Sport England have applied the learning from the latest youth insight Under the Skin. It looks at the reasons why young people take part in sport or activity. The most common reasons included:

  • to meet new people
  • to hang out with friends
  • to get in shape
  • to be healthy
  • for fun and enjoyment
  • to learn new skills.

The challenge for coaches, activators and leaders is to plan and deliver sessions to meet these reasons for taking part.

What motivates young people to be active?

Fun is a key motivator for young people who play sport, but they are also looking for sporting experiences that connect with their social lives. New research illustrates how fun and positive peer relationships are interrelated, and essential in ensuring young people continue to participate in sport.

With these two factors in mind, UK Coaching's (formerly Sports Coach UK) Research Summary no 13: Increasing Young People's Motivation to play through Coaching provides a series of strategies for youth sport coaches to consider using in their coaching. After all, coaches are ideally placed to provide fun sporting experiences, and shape positive relationships between the young people they coach.

The puzzle of motivation

A thought provoking TEDTalk The Puzzle of Motivation, by Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but the rest of us don't.

Traditional rewards aren't always as effective as we think.

This Psychology In Coaching – Motivation resource is useful as a tool for reflecting on your own coaching practice and to consider what you could do differently.

A common theme of peoples’ motivations is to ‘improve wellbeing’. Wellbeing can have different meanings for different people; some think its about physical wellbeing and the absence of ill health; some people think its all about mental health; some people thinks its linked to happiness, and many people feel it is a mixture of the three.

If you are interested in better understanding what is wellbeing then have a look at Five Ways to Wellbeing from the New Economics Foundation as a starting point for further considering how you as a coach can contribute to people having better wellbeing as a result of attending your session.

Related Content

  • Psychology Essentials

  • Behaviour Change Strategies

  • Understanding Behaviour Change


Like this resource? We'd love you to share a link to it.

Want to reproduce this resource, or part of it, elsewhere? Please do the right thing and make a permissions request so we can licence its proper use.

UK Coaching Participation Team