Can You Motivate A Lazy Child?

Asia Mape
In Learn
By Asia Mape | April 17, 2016

If any of your kids suffer from this affliction, there are few things more painful to watch from the sidelines, than laziness. I can handle losing, ugly play, poor decision making, but laziness..ugh. Nothing can compare to the feelings flaring up inside when you watch your talented child not giving 100% effort.  I wondered if there is something I can do as a parent to squelch laziness, so I posed this question to our guest Contributor Coach/Trainer Mike Guevara:

“Can you do anything to help a lazy, but talented kid, achieve a high level of success in sports?” 

Over the last 7 years of being in the performance field I have had the pleasure of working with thousands of kids in an effort in trying to make them the best athletes that ‘THEY’ want to be.  I place an emphasis on ‘THEY’ because it is always a choice. My job is to maximize the amount of effort they put forth, however, I cannot and will not make anyone give effort.  It is a prerequisite that everyone must have before walking on to the training floor.  I have even kicked kids off of the floor because their effort level was poor and it was clear that the gym was the last place they wanted to be.  But there is always that one exception…  The super talented kid that knows he or she should be training and shows up even though the desire to work hard is not present.  The ‘do what is necessary and not overdo’ mentality which works well for them because success tends to happen naturally even though maximum effort isn’t ever a priority.  


But crazy talent can mask laziness only  for so long. How do I motivate those kids?  Can they be motivated?  Can I change their mindset that one day pure talent will not be enough to continue to have an edge over your competition?  The answer is NO. More than a few times I have worked with this kid.  This specific individual never had to work hard and the game was still easy.  The game seemed to slow down for this kid and the others around him seemed a step slower.  He carried this attitude all the way through his junior career.  Things were great until high school or college when everyone around him was just as fast, quick, agile, strong, or clever.  Now what? And he is too stubborn to admit that his work ethic could be an issue and chooses not to listen to me or anyone for that matter.  And what happens, he has now gone from the best to average, the middle of the pack.  All because he didn’t want to embrace everything that was around the sport and not just the sport.

These are the four step I believe an athlete needs in order to take his/her sport to the next level.  Without a focus on these four areas, an athlete will not find success for very long at a high level.

  1. Nutrition
  2. Training
  3. Good recovery habits
  4. Listening to people who know more about things then they do  

Seems simple; but these kids choose to be average after awesome adolescent careers.  “I can take a horse to water but I can’t make him drink.”  You have to WANT to drink and these particular kids would rather talk then drink. I believe that it all starts as a young child. Your parents either make you earn your milestones or they give you your milestones. But the process in which they are achieved is a critical one because time will dictate whether or not you will be grinder or not.  God can bless you with all of the talent in the world but if one does not cultivate their talent then you’re just wasting somebody else’s dream.

16 September 2015: Tee Factory in Sherman Oaks, CA.

As Director of Performance at The Factory in Sherman Oaks, Ca, Mike G has quickly risen to become one of the most well-respected performance coaches in the United States, training Olympians, NFL Players, NBA players and MLB athletes as well as young athletes of all ages. Under Coach G’s training, Victoria Azarenka became the top ranked women’s tennis player in the world in 2011.   After a break in coaching her, Mike returned to work with Azarenka this year and she has again risen the ranks just recently becoming only the third woman to win the back-to-back tournaments at Indian Wells and Key Biscayne in the same year. 


  1. We have an 11 year old who loves soccer but has not been giving much effort into practice. My husband wants to pull him and make him quit since he isn’t put forth the effort but I don’t think this is the way to go. Do you have any advice you could give on this issue. Thanks

    • Melissa,
      Thank you for reaching out! I will forward your question to Mike G. He’s traveling right now with Azarenka, so I’m not sure how quickly he will reply, but I know he will eventually for sure. In the meantime, I hope you can stick it out with your son and figure out what might be the issue. I know there are ebbs and flows with my kids and just when I’m ready to throw in the towel you can be sure it will change again. If this is a sudden change in behavior or new pattern, things to think about..outside stresses, nutrition, health, friend situation on the team, coach relationship, pressure to perform. All of these things can affect his energy output at practice. If he doesn’t see the issue himself, try taping a drill or scrimmage with your phone and showing him later. Be sure to have some positive things to say as well. But if you can show him and he can visually see what you are referring to, this is always a helpful tool as well.
      Best of luck. And please email us anytime via the contact page.


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