How to Motivate Students When They're Discouraged

Motivation is a tricky and fickle beast. It can come and go and when you don’t have it, challenges become that much more difficult. It happens to many and knowing how to turn it around is one step in the battle.


So what happens when a student at your martial arts school starts to lose their motivation? Without their motivation, they can lose focus of their goals and it can be becoming less likely for students to keep coming back to class. However, there are a number of things you can do to motivate martial arts students, especially by being proactive about it. Here are some of our tips to motivate martial arts students, when they’re discouraged.


Defining Motivation

In its simplest term, motivation is your desire to do things. It’s the drive that makes tough challenges feel easier but, on the flip side, without it, even the easiest feats can seem enormous. There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Extrinsic motivation relies on compensation, punishment and reward, whereas intrinsic motivation relies on autonomy, mastery and purpose. Intrinsic motivation is what you want to cultivate.


Even with high levels of intrinsic motivation, dips in motivation can occur. We’ve spoken about the importance of discipline in your martial arts students; having the self-discipline to push through the dips in motivation is crucial to succeed.


Teaching Motivation

The best way to generate a positive energy in your martial arts school is to create a culture of motivation throughout. Start by discussing with your instructors and seniors the best ways to motivate your students. Teach them the balance of praising students, the importance of expecting a high-level of performance, how to generate excitement, tracking improvement, and other key areas.


Goal setting is very beneficial and finding effective ways to set them with your students can be a huge boost to motivate martial arts students. Belt testing also plays a huge role, as many goals can be closely related to testing. Keep in mind that not all students are motivated by the same things so what works in one class may not be the deciding factor for another.


Variety Is Key

Repetition can be a killer for motivation for some and martial arts really does require a lot of repetition. To break up the monotony, try changing things up for your students. A good way to motivate martial arts students is to host some classes outdoors. There are many different classes you can host outside and this change in scenery can do wonders for your students. Plus, the health benefits of an outdoor lifestyle can be uplifting for your students. Seasonal campaigns can also breathe some fresh life into your school’s operations.


Build Community

Having a good support system can help, when a student starts to lose their drive. This can be accomplished through creating a community or family-like culture at your school. Make sure a good number of your seniors and instructors are very personable and friendly. Students are paying you to be there but, at the end of the day, they want to feel like you care about them as individuals and not just another payment.


Hosting events on a regular basis can help build bonds between students who may not have the chance to during classes. Events such as workshops, movie nights, fight viewings, parties, and camping trips are all great ways to get your students together. If a student still decides it’s time to hang up his gi, make sure you accept cancellations graciously; this is key to keeping your community healthy and vibrant, while also increasing the chances of past students returning.


For more ways to keep your martial arts retention rates high, check out this great webinar by Mark Russo on the 10 must-haves for student retention success.


What’s your last resort to motivating a student, when the going gets tough? Let us know on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Google+ to stay up to date with all of your ChampionsWay news.