Are you BOLD or Italic?

by Matt Cuccaro, Ed.M.

This blog has already discussed many of the critical attributes of intrinsically motivated athletes, most recently by Dr. Naylor (  The topic of intrinsic motivation on a broader scale, however, has not been broached.  After suffering another long, hot, humid day in the South Carolina sun (it’s been nearly unbearable for almost two months now), the time came for me to do a little soul searching of my own.  In other words, I needed to do some reading and research (in the a/c) and I re-discovered some cool stuff.

Richard M. Ryan and Edward L. Deci wrote a piece for Contemporary Educational Psychology in 2000 about motivation that lays an outstanding foundation for high achievers in any area of life and sport.  Follow this link for the original work in its entirety…

I was especially struck by the following excerpt on intrinsic motivation…

Intrinsic motivation is defined as the doing of an activity for its inherent satisfactions rather than for some separable consequence. When intrinsically motivated a person is moved to act for the fun or challenge entailed rather than because of external prods, pressures, or rewards. In humans, intrinsic motivation is not the only form of motivation, or even of volitional activity, but it is a pervasive and important one. From birth onward, humans, in their healthiest states, are active, inquisitive, curious, and playful creatures, displaying a ubiquitous readiness to learn and explore, and they do not require extraneous incentives to do so. This natural motivational tendency is a critical element in cognitive, social, and physical development because it is through acting on one’s inherent interests that one grows in knowledge and skills.


  • Fun and challenge – Do you approach training and competition with these key themes in the forefront?  Or does motivation come from doing just enough to blend in without being called out, fear of looking bad on game day, or being able to hold a trophy at the end of the season?
  •  Active, inquisitive, curious, and playful, showing readiness to learn and explore – When was the last time you took this approach to practice?  Or do coaches, parents, fear of losing, and other outside factors drive your sessions?
  • Cognitive, social, and physical development occurs through acting upon inherent interests – Are you truly doing what you enjoy day in and day out?  Or are you just passing the time because others say “you are a natural” or family/friends enjoy the sport or activity?


 If your life looks like this (bold print)…keep it up and you will reap the benefits of healthy success.  If your life looks like this (italic print)…it might be time to make some changes in your daily approach to live fuller, more gratifying days.

As summer comes to a close and the school year approaches for student-athletes, time and energy become valuable resources.  Establish priorities and decide if you will live a bold life, or a passive life in italics.


1 Response to “Are you BOLD or Italic?”

  1. 1 Dean S August 10, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Catchy illustration.

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