So. . .Personality Matters?

Working with a wide variety of clients and athletes makes efficient motivation very important.  Motivation is more than high fives, giving generic quotes and pictures, yelling one more and telling them great set.  Motivating clients is a multi-faceted process, which involves understanding some basic psychology, personality factors and empowering clients.  The first personality trait I will explain how to work with more effectively comes from Goal Orientation Theory and they are ego oriented motivations and task oriented motivations.

Ego Orientation – This type of person has a desire to win and be the best at something.   As long as the person is successful they are happy.  Now this does have some downfalls if the person is strictly ego oriented; their effort levels drop off and they become discouraged if they are not winning or succeeding.  These maladaptive behaviors can cause ego oriented people to select easier tasks getting them the success they desire.

Task Orientation – This type of person has a desire to improve and be the best that they can be and are pleased if they are putting forth their best effort.  Success doesn’t determine their feelings of competency.  Task orientation is more beneficial because these individuals tend to produce higher levels of effort.  They also continue to choose challenging tasks even when facing adversity or failure.


Understanding Goal Orientation Theory helps to develop clients efficiently as well as understand how they perceive their competency.  True success in any program requires effort and consistency.  In order to keep both effort and consistency high programming should take into consideration clients’ goal orientations.  People can have any combination of these orientations from high ego and low task, high in both, etc.  Trainers and coaches should want their clients and athletes to have high levels of both task and ego orientations.  These two temper one another and lead to high levels of effort and a high desire to win and to be the best that they can be.  Just look at the most successful people in almost any field.  They have this combination; an ability to put forth constant effort to improve individually and simultaneously have a desire to beat their competition.

Here are 4 ways to improve the goal orientation of your clients and create an environment with high levels of both ego and task orientations:

1) Set task goals

Improving technique on the pro shuttle or getting one more rep of a given exercise.  These encourage clients to improve individually and be the best that they can.

2) Reward and give a focus to effort

Take note when small things are improving and when an individual is working hard.  Make sure that effort is a priority.

3) Create competition in the program

This can be done through races and any other physical competition.  It can also be added to a program by incorporating a body transformation contest with a reward for winning.  Anything that allows people to compete against one another in a positive manner will enhance their ego orientation.

4) Enjoyment

Programs need to be enjoyable to ensure that clients’ effort levels remain elevated.  One easy way to improve enjoyment is to provide autonomy by getting feedback and implementing exercises they enjoy.  Find out what your clients enjoy doing and try implementing those things more often.  People work harder and do more when they enjoy what they are doing.

By understanding the goal orientations of your clients and making adjustments to develop high levels of both task and ego orientations, effort levels and results will improve.

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