Coaching Blog 41: Motivation

While writing one of the Handouts for a workshop on Motivation, I remembered a speech my secondary school PE Teacher gave to our Rounders Team when I was 13 (I’m not going to name her as that would perhaps be unfair …….. and possibly libellous). I know she meant well, but given our amazingly poor hand – eye – ball coordination, things were not going well:

‘Girls, you can’t throw.

‘You can’t catch.

‘You can’t hit the ball.

‘You can’t run very far ……….. or very fast.

‘You don’t know how to play this game – and half of you still think this is a racquet.

‘It’s highly unlikely that we will win, but Sister Mary spent 2 hours yesterday sewing the school’s motif onto your bibs, so go out there and do your best.’


Needless to say we were thrashed – I can’t remember the score, but I do remember a girl called Michelle crying on the coach that took us back to school.

Now, I’m not saying that if my teacher had decent motivational skills she could have found the words to lift our spirits enough so that we would rise above our inability to connect a bat to a ball being hurled at us at the speed of light, try our best and win the match – after all this was Wilenhall not Hollywood. I am saying that when I think back to the teachers I thought were rubbish, I realise I was less impressed with the ones that were incapable of speaking to me in a way that would hold my interest, and awed and keen to learn from those who led me to believe that I could achieve something ………… motivate me in fact.

Most trainers use examples of managers to demonstrate examples of McGregor’s X and Y Theory of Motivation – I think back to that PE teacher, who was:

  • intolerant
  • distant and detached
  • issued ultimatums
  • aloof
  • arrogant
  • short tempered and shouted (a lot)
  • used a lot of threats
  • issued numerous demands
  • didn’t listen
  • was unconcerned about our feelings
  • and possibly a little deranged


and match this against my Science teacher, who regularly set his experiments alight, spilt things, dropped things, created noxious gases that meant we had to leave the lab for almost the entire lesson and made us want to work out why things didn’t happen how they were supposed to and what we needed to do instead.

Years later I look back and think he was using a particular style to motivate us, we laughed loads in that class and really enjoyed it ……….. but then I scraped a pass in my Chemistry, so maybe he was just a really rubbish teacher who made us laugh and not the motivational genius I’ve let hindsight define him as.

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