Unlocking Potential Series #2 - Understanding Intrinsic Motivation and Why It Helps in Junior Golf Development

"We Don't Sell Golf Lessons, We Sell Long-Term Development Plans"

Understanding Intrinsic Motivation and Why It Helps in Junior Golf Development

In the world of junior golf development, it is important to understand the importance of intrinsic motivation and how it can be used as a powerful force to create success. This article explores the concept of intrinsic motivation, its profound benefits in junior golf development, and provides evidence supporting its impact in coaching methodologies (approaches).

Understanding Intrinsic Motivation:

Intrinsic motivation refers to the internal desire and drive to engage in an activity for its inherent satisfaction and enjoyment, rather than external rewards or pressures. When junior golfers are intrinsically motivated, they derive pleasure from the process of learning, improving, and mastering the game, fueling their passion and commitment. Unlike external motivators such as trophies, accolades, or parental approval, intrinsic motivation arises from the sheer joy and fulfillment experienced while playing, practicing, and mastering the intricacies of the game. Understanding intrinsic motivation is to understand the core of junior golf development. Intrinsic motivation creates a journey fueled by passion, driven by purpose, and illuminated by the steady pursuit of excellence. By nurturing and harnessing this intrinsic drive within young golfers, coaches, parents, and mentors can empower them to reach new heights of success, fulfillment, and joy on the course and beyond.

Benefits of Intrinsic Motivation in Junior Golf Development:

Sustained Engagement:

Intrinsically motivated junior golfers exhibit sustained engagement and enthusiasm towards their training and practice sessions. Their love for the game propels them to invest time and effort willingly, fostering consistent progress and development.

Enhanced Learning:

Intrinsic motivation facilitates deeper learning and understanding of golfing concepts and techniques. Junior golfers driven by internal satisfaction are more likely to seek out challenges, experiment with different strategies, and persist through setbacks, leading to mastery of the game.


Intrinsically motivated junior golfers demonstrate greater resilience in the face of adversity. They view challenges as opportunities for growth rather than insurmountable obstacles, maintaining their dedication and determination even during difficult times.

Autonomy and Independence:

Intrinsic motivation fosters a sense of autonomy and independence in junior golfers. They take ownership of their development, setting their own goals, monitoring their progress, and making decisions based on personal values and interests.

Encouraging Intrinsic Motivation for Improved Junior Golf Development

Encouraging intrinsic motivation in junior golf development involves fostering a supportive and nurturing environment where young athletes feel empowered to pursue their passion for the game. Coaches can cultivate intrinsic motivation by emphasizing the joy of learning and improvement, rather than solely focusing on outcomes or results. Providing opportunities for autonomy and choice, such as allowing junior golfers to set their own goals and tailor their training regimens, can further enhance intrinsic motivation. Additionally, recognizing and celebrating individual progress and achievements reinforces a sense of mastery and competence, fueling intrinsic motivation among junior golfers

Evidence Supporting Intrinsic Motivation in Coaching:

Decades of research in sports psychology have provided compelling insights into the profound impact of intrinsic motivation on athletes. Research in sports psychology has consistently shown that coaching approaches emphasizing intrinsic motivation lead to greater athlete satisfaction, performance, and long-term commitment. Studies have demonstrated that junior golfers coached using intrinsic motivation principles exhibit higher levels of enjoyment, effort, and performance compared to those subjected to extrinsic motivators such as rewards or punishments. Research shows that, when athletes derive satisfaction from the process of learning, improving, and mastering the game, they are more likely to invest time and effort willingly, leading to significant gains in skill development, technique refinement, and overall proficiency

Examples of Intrinsic Motivation in Junior Golf:

Love for the Game:

Junior golfers driven by their passion and love for the sport are intrinsically motivated to dedicate themselves to practice, training, and competition.

Desire for Improvement:

Junior golfers who are intrinsically motivated seek continuous improvement and mastery of their skills, setting personal goals and striving to achieve them.

Enjoyment of Challenges:

Junior golfers intrinsically motivated by the challenge of the game embrace difficult situations as opportunities for growth, relishing the chance to test their abilities and overcome obstacles.

Innate Curiosity:

Junior golfers driven by curiosity and a desire for self-discovery are intrinsically motivated to explore different aspects of the game, experiment with techniques, and expand their knowledge.


Gamechanger Performance Coaching, Vaughn Golf Academy, and Wohali Golf believe in the power of intrinsic motivation and development. Intrinsic motivation serves as a component of our junior golf development. Intrinsic motivation has the ability to ignite a passion for the game that transcends external pressures or rewards. By nurturing intrinsic motivation through coaching methodologies that prioritize enjoyment, autonomy, and mastery, young golfers can unlock their full potential, achieve success on the course, and cultivate a lifelong love for the sport. As coaches, parents, and mentors, it is imperative to recognize the transformative power of intrinsic motivation and foster an environment that nurtures and sustains this internal drive in junior golfers.