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When I Was Their Age ...

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As I drive by high schools on my way to work this time of year and see football teams sweating through September workouts, a nagging question always comes to mind: Do today's student athletes work as hard as we did a generation ago? Are they as motivated as we were to get better? Some high school coaches I know say the answer is a definitive no. They believe today's student athletes simply have too many other distractions that draw away from the ability to focus intensely on one goal.

Others, however, see a new generation of student athletes, more sophisticated in their knowledge of sports, and smarter about when to work hard and when to take it easy. That is probably progress, a balance between athletic intelligence and hard work.

Still, I sometimes long for the days when hard work was the rule in high school sports.

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Motivation comes of believing in the possiblity of success. If students have a history of constant failure, they are not likely to be very motivated, expecting only more of the same experience. To motivate, one must set reachable, specific, targeted goals for which students can provide input for themselves- how far they think they can go in what time frame...the small success leads to a glimmer of hope that enables the next goal to be a bit farther, a bit higher, and consecutive successes build increasing motivation. If teachers do not have a clear sense of the total outcome for the term that is desired, and cannot convey this, and, further, if they cannot break the targeted outcome down into manageable successes, they will risk losing the students before they begin.

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