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The Combustion Theory: What goes on in an athletes head to cause motivation.


How Do We Access An Athletes Inner Fire?

“That athlete has all of the potential in the world he just doesn’t seem to want it”


“He just had an edge to him, physically he shouldn’t have been out there but mentally he was just different”


“That guy is just lazy”


“If only he was as motivated as him, he could be such a special athlete”


Over the past couple years of being a coach these are things I hear from sport and strength and conditioning coaches weekly. Either there’s something mentally that holds an athlete back from their potential or mentally allows them to surpass this set potential. Is this factor predetermined before you get your athlete or are you able to change it? I break this into two parts.


1) Has it been engrained for many years by their parents, peers and previous coaches? My answer is yes of course.


2) and this is the real question “Can it be changed?”

My answer is also yes, and this is where my theory of combustion comes in.


Theory of Combustion:


“Every single athlete has a set amount of fuel in their mind and a certain pathway to this fuel. Your job as a coach is to not only find a way to access this fuel but to find a way to allow them to access this fuel”


With this is mind we can make sense of the highly motivated athlete, they have a highly accessible pathway to this fuel and can set it on fire at will. (Whether this be because of genetics or repeated training we will never know for sure, but I tend to lean towards the later) These athletes are the overachievers, the true greats and the athletes we want. As a coach these athletes are easy to work with, this is not our problem. What this theory truly helps us with is the athletes that don’t have or don’t know how to access this fuel source. Everyone has those athletes, the ones that could be great, but they don’t want it. A lot of coaches give up on these athletes or resort to one pathway to try and access this fuel, which usually involves them screaming. (Which may give us access for a slight amount of time but never last) Neither of these work in a team sport setting, where a lot of times these athletes are so talented the team relies on them and not to mention the fact that as a coach you should be trying to create the best version of your athletes and without access to this fuel you’re not doing this.


So how do we do it if yelling isn’t the answer? Well if I had that golden answer for every athlete, I would be living the high life in California somewhere instead of the basement of some house I rent in the middle of MN Lol. No, the point of this