4 Ways to Motivate Athletes with DISC

4 Ways to Motivate Athletes with DISC

Everyone is different, and we all deserve to be viewed as the unique human beings we are. People are motivated by different things, so it’s important for sport and fitness coaches to understand their athletes’ personalities in order to provide them with the most effective workouts at the right time. During any type of vigorous exercise, the mind of the athlete is constantly engaged with either a positive or negative thought. Planting the right, positive mindset could greatly affect an athlete’s performance; however, in order to accomplish this, the coach needs to conform to the athlete’s personality and way of thinking. Everyone is motivated by different things, which means what works for one might not really work for another.

As someone who considers myself an athlete, I have had a lot of experience with different coaches and their unique way of coaching. Unfortunately, I have found that most coaches decide to motivate their athletes only in the way they themselves are motivated, which means that only people with the same personality type as the coach would actually come close to reaching their full potential. Coaches need to understand how different and unique everyone is in order to improve their team’s performance. An athlete’s results from a DISC Fitness test and their personality type can reveal what motivates them the most. Motivating an athlete the right way can make a world of a difference!

Discover Your DISC Fitness Style

Motivate by new challenges


Athletes who have a dominant “D” personality as their strongest behavior type usually like to be challenged with new workouts and exercises. They don’t like to stick to a routine because that provokes them to think and analyze their physical activity too much, causing it to become boring. They like to be surprised or entertained and enjoy workouts that feel like a dare or fun game. When dealing with people of this personality style, it’s a good idea to constantly change the type and difficulty level of workouts they do in order to keep their bodies and minds surprised and interested. Incorporating some exciting and unusual workouts to refresh them, in between more vigorous ones, will keep them satisfied.

Motivate by praise

Many people like to be praised and accepted, but the “I” personality style values it the most. If they feel like they are not really needed or valued enough, they don’t try as hard. Athletes with this influential personality type like to joke around and have fun, without worrying too much about the details. They want their coach or someone else on the team to take the leadership role while they enjoy a good workout. They can be motivated by a good challenge between friends but don’t like too many rules or restrictions because they enjoy their freedom.

Motivate by building a routine

The “S” personality style likes to feel safe and secure with their exercise routines and the people around them. They feel secure in knowing their coach has the expertise to lead their workouts. These types of athletes find comfort in a repeatable, consistent workout schedule, without many changes between sessions. If a workout operates well for them and the coach can really see their enjoyment when doing it, those exercises should be incorporated into their schedule as often as possible. This stable style also likes to be recognized for how loyal and dependable they are.

Motivate by standards of high quality

People with a “C” personality type prefer working out with a smaller group of athletes or even better – by themselves. They don’t like to draw attention to themselves, and they don’t find any benefit in interacting with others during their training time. They are the type of people who go through their whole workout with headphone in their ears and hats on their heads, attempting to ignore the outside world as much as possible. They like to see the layout of their workout and comprehend and analyze it before and after. They like everything to be in order and their form to be perfect. If they understand what they are doing, this helps them not to overthink during the workout.

Working out, exercising, and being an athlete, in general, requires just as much mental effort as physical. What goes on in an athlete’s mind during a workout can greatly change the level of effort and mental focus they will have. DISC is used to identify predictable actions and personality traits within human behavior to help people communicate and comprehend each other better. Coaches can use DISC theory to identify their athletes’ personalities and more specifically what motivates them, which can change everything from the way they perform to their coach-trainee relationship.

Read also: 3 Steps for Effective DISC Personality-Based Fitness Coaching

Picture of Eli Teneva

Written by: Eli Teneva

Eli represents Generation Z (that we will be talking a lot about in the future) and while still in high school, she splits her time between versatile activities she enjoys - from math, engineering and reading books to basketball and long-distance running. Personality Style: C