What motivates us to do sports?

What motivates us to do sports?

As Nike celebrates 25 years of inspiring people to achieve their sporting dreams, we ask what is it that most motivates people to do sport?

Over the years Nike has been telling people to “Just Do It”, one of the most popular tag lines of our generation. And with a whole host of famous personalities helping to create their new TV ad campaign entitled “Possibilities” they will be continuing to push people to do their best.

On a large scale, generally we are inspired by strong advertising campaigns for sports brands such as Nike, by watching motivational films or by international events such as The Olympics, World Championship sporting events and so on.

But at a more local level what is it that motivates us every day to actively take on a sporting challenge?

Here are the top reasons:


We all love to be praised, and sport gives us the opportunity to succeed in ways that we may not otherwise do in everyday life. We can get recognition from our loved ones, a coach or gym instructor, our peers, or if you are competing on a professional level then it may come from a national or even international audience, which gives a buzz that’s hard to recreate.

Achieving goals

With sport you can set yourself very achievable goals which can be both short term and long term. Achieving these goals, whether it be winning a football match, or beating your running personal best, means that you have higher self esteem and you will experience a level of success. If your goal happens to be losing a certain amount of weight, you automatically feel better about yourself if you hit your target, and then you will be looking for a new goal.

Providing challenges

It’s human nature to look forward to the next challenge and sport provides the perfect excuse to set yourself a new challenge. Whether it is a team goal, to get to the top of the league, or a personal challenge to climb Kilimanjaro, the end result is that you push yourself to achieving something that you’ve worked hard towards. This is turn helps you achieve goals and receive the recognition that is all important in our lives. It might be that you also have the added bonus of raising money for a charity of your choice, or simply increasing the awareness of a sport you take part in. Challenges can lead to new opportunities.

The chance to lead

You may in your day job work for somebody, but in sport you can lead the way and take control. Opportunities for leadership come around frequently in sport – by way of team leadership and taking on responsibility such as teaching someone a new skill or being captain of a team for a certain amount of time. For some, the chance to lead is their chance to shine and many flourish with this opportunity. Sport can bring out hidden skills in people that don’t have a chance to show them off in their everyday lives and work.

Offering a level playing field

Sport is not exclusive – anyone can do it. And for many people, able-bodied and disabled- this offers them a chance to do an activity where they are not judged for what they can’t do, but rather recognised for what they can do. Since the 2013 Paralympic Games for example, it’s thought that disabled people are accepted more in society. Sport has the ability of bridging divides, whether they be physical, social, cultural or economical. You don’t have to be rich to participate in sport, you just have to be willing to participate and put in the effort. And everyone can achieve success and recognition through sport.

The chance for involvement

Sport can provide the chance to be involved in a team, or a club, and it offers opportunities to make firm friends and training partners. For some people, creating strong relationships and bonds can be tough at work or in day to day life, but in sport people can come together. You can enjoy the camaraderie of sharing a goal and being involved with others gives you more motivation. Making friends and having a shared goal or interest can lift the mood and help you move forward in other areas of life.

Having fun

For children in particular, having fun is one of the biggest motivators for taking on sport. As it takes so many forms it’s hard not to find something that you enjoy. The joy of sport is that you can try many things out before you decide what it is you enjoy best, and most of it involves having a laugh! It’s not all about serious competition; often it’s just about having a kick about in the park, or getting together with friends for an aerobic session at the gym.


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