Thursday, 23 May 2024

Motivational Interviewing: A Journey of Learning and Growth

Motivational Interviewing

Being part of a team sport is an incredible experience that transcends boundaries and unites athletes from different disciplines. Recently, I had the pleasure of working with the coaching staff and players of the 2020 Olympic gold medalist U.S. Women’s Water Polo Team at Bison Peak Lodge at Puma Hills, my new legacy project. It was truly inspiring to witness the importance of the mental side of sports, as highlighted by their silent retreat during their 10-day stay.

Moreover, I had the honor of hosting the 1980 U.S. Women’s Olympic Volleyball Team while they supported and celebrated the 2020 U.S. Women’s Team’s historic first Olympic gold victory via text messages, video messages, and cheers. This experience further reinforced the power of teamwork, trust, and continuous learning. I congratulate all three U.S. women’s teams – indoor, beach, and sitting – for their remarkable achievements in Tokyo. It is a proud moment for USA Volleyball.

The cross-pollination of ideas and principles from national teams and various sports has allowed me to further enhance my coaching and learning techniques. In the upcoming months, I will be continuing my journey of learning in Mexico City, the Badger and Arizona Regions, Jamaica, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, and Denmark. I am excited to share the knowledge and insights I gain from participants and fellow clinicians in future blogs. As a learner, there are two resources that I highly recommend you explore:

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In addition to my experiences in team sports, I have also had the privilege of learning from the coaching staff of a Major League Baseball team. They have graciously invited me to their book-and-speaker Zoom calls, where we have explored the book “Coaching Athletes to Be Their Best.” This book delves into the concept of motivational interviewing (MI) in sports.

Motivational interviewing is not a recipe book for coaching, but rather a collection of communication styles and techniques that allow coaches to draw out wisdom and answers from their players. The authors of this book provide numerous examples and strategies on how to connect with athletes and help them thrive. Through scientific research, they demonstrate why conventional ways of giving feedback and addressing conflicts can be counterproductive. The book also emphasizes the significance of personal goal ownership, performance enhancement, and improved teamwork.

Let’s take a sneak peek into some of the chapter titles that shed light on the valuable insights this book offers:

Mindset: Setting the Stage for Success

Method: Unleashing the Power of Motivational Interviewing

Skills: Mastering Effective Communication Techniques

Affirming: Building Confidence and Self-Belief

Rolling with Athlete Resistance to Change: Navigating Challenges

Connecting Rapidly: Establishing Trust and Rapport

Making Decisions as a Unit: Fostering Collective Responsibility

Coaching in Poor Communities: Overcoming Obstacles

Connecting and Culture Change: Embracing Diversity

As a young coach, I used to tell my players what to do. However, through the principles of motivational interviewing, I have learned to guide their discoveries by asking questions like “What did you notice about that spike you just executed?” This approach encourages self-reflection and active participation from the players. The book also provides quick reference sheets that can be easily utilized, making the implementation of these techniques even more accessible.

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If you aspire to enhance your coaching conversations and build stronger relationships and trust with your players, I highly recommend adding this book to your coaching, learning, teaching, and mentoring toolkit. It will serve as a valuable resource that equips you with the necessary skills to empower your athletes.

In conclusion, I would like to express my gratitude to all of you who are continuously learning and coaching. Your dedication and passion make a significant impact on the lives of your players, even if they may not express it daily. Happy holidays to everyone!


Q: Can motivational interviewing be applied to individual sports as well?

Yes, motivational interviewing techniques can be effectively utilized in individual sports as well. The principles of guided discovery and effective communication are universally applicable and can help athletes excel in any sport.

Q: Where can I purchase the book “Coaching Athletes to Be Their Best”?

You can find “Coaching Athletes to Be Their Best” on Alpinetgheep, where you will find a wide range of resources dedicated to coaching and personal development.

Q: Are there any other recommended resources for coaches and athletes?

Certainly! Apart from the mentioned book, I would also encourage you to explore “Legacy” by New Zealand men’s rugby head coach James Kerr. It offers valuable insights into building a winning team culture.


Motivational interviewing is a transformative approach to coaching that focuses on effective communication and empowering athletes to thrive. By adopting the principles and techniques discussed in the book “Coaching Athletes to Be Their Best,” coaches can build stronger relationships, enhance performance, and foster a culture of constant learning. Embrace the journey of motivational interviewing and watch your athletes reach new heights in their sporting endeavors.

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