#72: Q&A: When An Athlete Loses Her Ambition

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How can I better support when my athlete loses her ambition?

Have you had this question in mind? If you’re a mom resonating with this, recognize this feeling because it’s a hard place to be in. And many moms have experienced seeing their daughters “lose” ambition/motivation all the time. 

What can we do in times like this? We can’t expect them to always be on fire, but what could be the reason behind this?

This happens for a variety of reasons. For example, your motivation to do your daily routines, exercises, etc. You probably don’t feel like doing those things all the time. And that’s normal human behavior.

Athletes also go through that too, because motivation comes and goes. That feeling of ambition comes and goes. And so we can’t expect our athletes to always be on fire doing things. 

What causes the lack of motivation?

She may be getting a little burnout, or maybe her goals have changed. Sometimes she’s just pausing to figure out what to do.

The reason for the lack of motivation may be one of those things. But it is also a “normal” human behavior to not feel motivated all the time. We teach athletes in The Elite Competitor Program to not treat “motivation” as a companion they rely on all the time. 

Motivation is not a good training partner because it’s unpredictable. 

Discipline, on the other hand, is the best training partner/companion they can rely on. And this is a good thought that your athlete could keep in mind. 

Remember your role as her mom. You can help a lot in this kind of situation, and there are two things you’re responsible for when your athlete is lacking motivation.

1. Shape the environment

You shape the environment by how you show up daily as her mom. Believe it or not, you influence the environment that she is in every day.

 It’s the same thing as planting a seed. Your daughter is your seed. Her potential is limitless. And she could grow into something beautiful and unique. 

But how are you going to cultivate that possibility?

Well, your environment is how you influence the soil around it, and how you cultivate that soil. That environment is you.

  • It’s how you are showing up
  • The thoughts that you think about yourself
  • What you say out loud about you
  • The habits and actions that you’re modeling for her

When it comes to ambition and motivation, I want you to consider yourself. Your goals and how you model discipline for them. Even when you don’t want to be vocal about your commitments, be vocal about that. You can set your daily morning routine as an example and be vocal about doing it even when you don’t feel like doing it. Set an example of how discipline works in your life for her to follow. 

You have a big influence on your daughter even when you feel like she’s not listening. So be very intentional and purposeful in sharing your thoughts and showing your actions.

2. Provide opportunities

Motivation/ambition comes and goes.

More than just relying on being “motivated”, your daughter needs skills and tools that can help her to pursue even when she doesn’t want to at the moment. She needs opportunities to develop habits of discipline.

It has to come from her – she needs to have a goal/vision that she’s working on. It works when she learns how to set her own goals and go after them.

Most athletes who lack vision don’t work towards a goal. So, allow her to dig into that. That’s why in The Elite Competitor Program, we ask the athletes about their goals and what they want to be. 

A clear path towards their vision could light something inside them. It is going to provide them the opportunity to develop habits of discipline. 

What you can do is surround her with support and guidance. You can be her partner in reaching her goals, you just have to ask what kind of support she needs. One is by allowing her to meet other athletes/people who have similar goals.

A good example would be this experience I had with one of our graduate athletes. She talked about wanting to stay disciplined to work on her endurance in soccer. One of her goals is to be a starter. So, I asked her what she was planning to do to achieve that goal. And she said she just needs to run more. It wasn’t specific enough, so I prompted her for more details. How often is she gonna run? What days in the week? And she decided to run on Mondays. And it became her Monday Runday.

It doesn’t even matter how long she’s gonna run, what matters is that she committed to set Monday as her Runday. And that’s the start of a disciplined habit. 

Nothing will replace her doing the work herself

Part of letting it be her journey is allowing her to figure out what works or doesn’t work for her. You give her those opportunities so that she can have ownership over them. And then you kind of step back. She might fail. It might not look how you feel like it should look, but part of that is allowing her to learn.

It’s like learning how to squat – you can read about it, be surrounded by it, watch others do it…and that helps. But, then YOU have to do it!

It’s hard for a parent to see her lose interest and leave her sport. Recognize what you feel, and keep in mind that there are underlying things connected to her actions. So, remember your role:

  • Shaping the environment. 
  • Providing opportunities and seeing you/other people do it. 

The combination of those things is essential, but ultimately she has to take ownership and do the work. That’s where the change happens.


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