Five Ways to Help Your Team Find Passion

By Kevin Brylski, Junior Volleyball Association / Credit: Sports Engine.

Some athletes will make you scratch your head or laugh, and some will help you be a better coach for them. 

One of the greatest opportunities we have as a coach is to help our athletes understand that being passionate about life, not just sports, is what can drive them to live a very happy and productive life.

The time with our athletes is a gift; we have their undivided attention (most of the time) for hours on end and we can use that time for more than sport. 

I coached a 15 and under travel volleyball team last season that faced some adversity, but we hung in there, and made a good run late in the season. I started coaching this team about 2 months into the season and one of the first things I asked all of the athletes was “what is your passion?” I was shocked when they all looked at me with blank stares. None of them could tell me what they were passionate about.

When I talk to sports organizations across the country, I use a tag line, and it sticks with the organizations long after I leave:


We’re fortunate in that we have already identified a passion in our athletes, volleyball. Now we can help them find another, and another, and another! Help them understand that sports can be a passion, but it can’t be the only one. We all need things that we’re passionate about that have both intrinsic and extrinsic value and motivation attached to it. I always recommend to drive motivation with intrinsic values, things that make us feel good for doing good. It’s great to get a trophy or medal, but what will continue to drive us is what we “feel” in regard to our passion.

Here are 5 ways to help your teams dig deep and find passion, a zest for things that drive them:

  • Ask them what, if anything, moves them other than what we see on the court
    • Favorite subject, type of music, favorite book or movie
  • Share your personal experiences on how you came to be passionate about coaching
    • My teams feel my passion, I share with them things that bring me to tears
  • Share examples of what other teams found to help drive them.
  • Help them understand that controlled emotion is a huge part of passion
    • Control your own emotions in the face of adversity
  • Don’t be afraid to show emotion of every kind, they will feel your passion
    • I have cried in battle, I have cried in front of my team, my kids, my friends…passion has no bounds, it’s a special form of love, don’t be afraid to show it. Deliver your message with conviction.

I encourage all of you to talk about passion with those you coach and mentor. I am certain you’ll be surprised not only about the lack of it’s existence but what they are passionate about. Some athletes will make you scratch your head or laugh, and some will help you be a better coach for them. 

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