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How to maintain your child's motivation

One of the toughest challenges for parents when coaching their child is to keep up their motivation. I hear it all the time “It’s so hard to get Jone down to the park to do extras with him”; “Sam has good weeks where he is so motivated to train, but then there are weeks that he rather be playing Fortnite”

Over 20 years of coaching youth Rugby players I have narrowed it down to 3 methods that will have them racing to the next training session.


It makes sense to know why your child wants to put in the 'blood, sweat and tears' to achieve an outcome. As humans, we need to know why we are doing something. The ‘why’ is what motivates us to get out of bed in the morning, or train when it’s pouring rain.

Simply ask your child:

“What is your Rugby goal?" or "What do you want to get out of Rugby this year?”

A good way to get the conversation started is to ask what level of Rugby they want to be playing. Do they aim to play Division 1 in the local comp? or do they want to strive to play representative Rugby? Their answer to this will provide their WHY. The reason WHY they need to stay motivated to do the training, and put in the extras. Take it one step further for them, and put a pic on the fridge depicting that goal being achieved. Constant reminders will help them remember their WHY when the going gets tough.


Numbers don’t lie. There is no better motivational tool than getting results. Kids need proof that the blood, sweat and tears that they are putting into the extra training sessions is working towards a purpose. Seeing their sprint times gradually decrease, or their broad jump distance increase (by following a proven program – just saying!) will give them the push they need to keep going when its too cold, too early, or there is a party on that they have to attend.

Not only is testing a great motivational tool, it also allows you to monitor your child’s progress, and pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses so that you can tweak your training sessions accordingly.

I recommend testing the 5 key Rugby athletic skills every 4 weeks.

Speed Test – Use your phone, or better still a stopwatch, to time your child over a 10m and 40m distance. 10m will assess their acceleration, whilst 40m is to time their top speed.

Vertical Power Test – Get your child to jump vertically - next to a wall - holding a piece of chalk. When they reach the top of their jump they mark the wall with the chalk. The distance from the ground to the chalk mark is their score.

Horizontal Power Test – Perform a broad jump and measure the distance reached.

Strength Test – Perform push ups to failure. Record the number of push ups.

Flexibility Test – This simple toe touch will test their hamstring flexibility. Have your child sit down, with legs stretched out, and touch their toes without bending at the knees. Measure from the edge of the toe to the top of their finger.

Record all testing results and place it on the fridge so that your child can see their results every day. This will motivate them to keep on training. Don’t forget to test every 4 weeks and keep the testing conditions the same.


Add a competitive environment. Introduce a friend to your training sessions from time to time to add a competitive edge. Get them to sprint against each other so that they push each other, or have one player start 2m ahead so that the other player has to catch them. I guarantee both players will be putting in 100% effort, and pushing themselves to beat their mate.

Competition also adds variety to your training sessions and keeps sessions fresh and exciting. Boring training sessions are a quick way to lose your child’s interest and motivation.

There you have it - my 3 methods to motivating your child. Remember to start with finding out why your child wants to do extra training sessions. This can be used as a reminder when their motivation starts to drop. Once you’ve found the why you can then plan your training sessions around the why. Before you start training, make sure you test your child in speed, power, strength & flexibility, and again every 4 weeks so that they can see the improvements for themselves. Last but not least add competition to the spice things up.

Let me know how your training sessions are going,



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