Nicola’s Signature Article:
My Motivation… What’s yours?

People often ask me questions around my motivation; you’ve been playing international hockey for nearly 10 years, how do you do it? Are you not bored of it? How do you stay motivated to be at the top? When times are challenging how do you get through it?

Generally speaking, it is the sport I love most and so to be doing this as my full time job is an absolute dream. However, like any work, there are ups and downs along the way. There are phases where you’re challenged to deliver more. There are mornings where you wake up and motivation is a struggle to go to training. There are times when you question is your best enough and would you be better off in a different career? So in this article, I hope to answer some of those questions and share my inner motivation that gets me through the difficult times.

So firstly, at 30 years old, am I bored of playing, even after nearly a decade?

In one word, No! I know, I can see what people may think but sport is always evolving, training is always adapting and I am feeling at my best more than ever. The game is faster, more skilful, more demanding and I love trying to keep being better and better, individually and as a collective. I love that we are a group of girls, all dedicated to the same dream and being part of a team is why it never gets boring….. trust me! That was the easy part, but how to stay motivated to be at the top is the more difficult one.

Staying motivated is a challenge for anyone. We all go through phases of being really on it and we all experience those times when you just can’t be bothered and you’re feeling really low on energy and mental application. From my experience, I definitely learnt more about my motivation during the tough times than the good. It is during the tough times you find whether your true, deep and inner motivation stacks up and gets you through or whether you continue spiralling into the rut. I feel I have 3 parts to my inner motivation: Winning (gold), family & friends and pride and it has taken me years to really cement this into my thought processes to try and keep me motivated and performing to my best.

Gold, well I can imagine it is pretty self-explanatory! Most people are driven by winning and success. This has been my dream since being a little girl and so how could I not have this as part of my motivation. I use imagery of a medal or a podium during times that are tough and it brings my focus back to why I do this job…. Because I love it! I think about how incredible it would be to share that with my teammates and how hard we are all working to achieve it. We are all pushing and striving to be better so this part of my motivation makes me not feel alone and reminds me of how much I want to be there and fight to win. Success isn’t easy and defending it is even harder. It could be first thing in a morning, or during the most gruelling running session that I can tap into this part of my motivation and nothing is more satisfying than standing on top of the podium!

Family and Friends, this is a huge part of me. I wouldn’t be where I am without them and they are unsung heroes behind so many incredible athletes. There are so many people that have been a part of my journey and believed in me that I want to make them proud. I wouldn’t say it has been the easiest journey for me breaking into the England system. I failed at my first trail for U16s and then at 18, I was told by a coach I wouldn’t make it to England level, as I wasn’t good enough or mentally tough enough! For both these reasons, I was very close to giving up my dream of becoming an Olympic gold medallist and if it weren’t for family and friends I very much may have. Thinking about them drives my inner belief and confidence to get out there and just give it my absolute best. My mum used to say to me, “if you’ve given it your best, that’s all you can do.”

 Pride, I would say all athletes have this. Stepping out on an international stage wearing an England or GB shirt is one of the proudest moments you can wish for. But I also see pride as the power behind my day-to-day grit and determination. Pride is what makes you go that extra bit, run a few steps further, lift a few kilos more. Pride is what matters most, when all else fails, you can always show it and you can always bring it to the fore. During tough times, I think about this mindset and it can almost kick-start that confidence boosts you need.