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Friday, 05 April 2019 10:22

The Coaching Big 5

In the next series for coaches, I will talk about the Coaching Big 5

Published in Sports Psychology
Friday, 29 March 2019 09:50

Confidence in Sport- Part 7

I have written a series of 6 articles on confidence. They are available in the archives on the website if you missed them or would like to review them.

Published in Sports Psychology
Monday, 18 March 2019 10:05

Greater Confidence Beyond Sport- Part 6

 Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the USA said:“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience by which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”

Published in Sports Psychology
Monday, 11 March 2019 09:27

Coaching Philosophy- Part 4

In the last 3 articles, I have offered a framework with clarifying questions that you can use to document a personal Coaching Philosophy.

The four pillars of the framework are:

  1. Know Yourself
  2. Know culture you want to build
  3. 3.Know your context and your environment
  4. 4.Know your athletes and your team

As you start finalising your coaching philosophy, I want to challenge you to consider what true success is? I do realise that many of you are coaching in a highly professional environment and that your job is on the line if you don’t bring home the trophies however it is important to pause and ponder and make sure that you don’t define an athlete or a team by one bad moment or a poor season. Imagine if the whole of life was measured like this?

Life isn’t measured this way – there are second chances and new beginnings. People can bounce back from a divorce or bankruptcy. I would like to suggest to you that if your players discern that you care about them on and off the field, their on field performance might go to a new level. Martina Navratilova, the woman who redefined women’s tennis said that she learnt more from a defeat than victory. Nikki Hudson former captain of the Aussie Women’s Field Hockey team played in 3 Olympic Games, three Commonwealth Games and three World Cups, collecting 4 gold medals along the way. Her career highlight was a gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where she was the tournament’s leading goal scorer. She was asked:

Having been a world-­‐-­‐-­‐class athlete, how do you measure your success?

“Success is more about how you develop as a player and as a person on and off the field. It is more than just winning trophies and medals, because unfortunately no matter how well you play in a tournament, sometimes the factors are against you and you don’t always win. It doesn’t mean you are not successful. In a team environment, particularly at the highest levels, measurement of success tends to revolve around the team – how the team is performing – and sometimes the individuals forget to look at their own achievements and successes. You perfect a skill or role in your team but then forget to celebrate those small wins.


I restate that the topic of winning and success is a delicate and potentially highly inflammable one, however as coaches we are compelled to acknowledge that our                         mentorship spans beyond the field. Sports are the theatre of life! We are entrusted with young people who will retire from sport and go on to lead families and companies and possibly play a role in government. Are you a limited scope-­‐-­‐-­‐coach who is just prepping people for a game, a moment in time, or are you carrying a bigger picture in your brag book and preparing people for life? We coach a generation that is predominantly fatherless and not as connected to the nuclear family as previous generations were. As coaches we become surrogates and start assuming these foundational roles in people’s lives.

Brian Mackenzie a leading UK coach says, “In my opinion, every coaching philosophy should have a major statement on how the coach views the results of both training and competition. I cannot stress enough the importance of educating athletes that it is more important to focus on their process of development and how they performed in   competition rather than the results or outcomes that they achieved. In a race or game there can be only one winner. Does that mean everyone else is a loser? If you read the newspapers that is what you would think. Therefore, to build confidence and see measurable progress and to learn positively from mistakes made I urge all coaches to focus on the process and not the outcomes with their athletes. It is important for the athletes to do the same.”

I have listed many prompt questions, but they have been included to get you to try and think about every aspect of your personality, beliefs and approach to coaching. Start clustering your answers into different themes and summarizing your approach. I have included an example of a coaching philosophy to help guide you in the process.

Example of a Coaching Philosophy taken from the AFL Level One Coaching Manual. Introduction

My coaching philosophy revolves around my firm belief that I am privileged to help my players develop and grow as individuals – not only in Australian Football, but as people.

How I wish to be remembered as a coach

I would like to be remembered as having a significant impact on the quality of life of these players.

My Role: teaching and training

I coach at this senior level to educate people to appreciate the game of Australian Football as being one of the most skillful games in the world. Since the game is based on players solving problems and making decisions all over the ground, my training is based on increasing the players’ understanding of the game by teaching team rules


and a game plan that will help simplify their decision-­‐-­‐-­‐making. This requires a game/scenario style of training.

Development of a club structure

The club culture is developed by establishing our values and associated behaviours. This leadership group and the playing group monitor these behaviours. Regular constructive feedback is offered to ensure that the club maintains the club culture.

Communication style

I possess an assertive communication style. I am an effective active listener. I clearly state my expectations. I speak honestly and immediately to people. I check on their feelings and understandings. I need to show empathy, learn to receive feedback and offer constructive feedback, resolve conflicts and create an environment of which everybody wants to be a part of.

Spend time capturing a coaching philosophy. It will be a trusted road map that could potentially not just celebrate destinations you reach but the milestones and the scenery along the route.

Thinc Sport 2 copy

Published in Sports Psychology

In my last article, I was writing about practical ways in which we can rebuild our confidence. The last point was

Start talking your way into a better space:

Published in Sports Psychology
Wednesday, 27 February 2019 11:26

What is a Coaching Philosophy- Part 3

In this series of articles/blogs on Building a Coaching Philosophy, I am urging Coaches to document their approach to coaching. You are unique, have a certain skill set and have something so amazing to pass onto the next generation of athletes.

Published in Sports Psychology

 Last week I stated that confidence can be brittle and fragile, and it needs to be intentionally and systematically rebuilt. Here are some steps that you can take to rebuild your confidence.

Published in Sports Psychology
Friday, 15 February 2019 10:23

What is a Coaching Philosophy- Part 2

To recap, last week I wrote about the importance of having a coaching philosophy. It serves as a GPS locator as you navigate your way through the sports world which is full of passion, burgeoning egos and varying power struggles and political battles.

Published in Sports Psychology

 Last week I wrote about the subject of Prime Confidence. I spoke about the science of Automaticity, giving brains to our muscles, but repeated practice and rehearsal.

Published in Sports Psychology
Tuesday, 29 January 2019 08:21

Sports Psychology: Confidence Part 1

Confidence Defined - The textbook definition of self-confidence is ‘the strength of belief in one’s ability to perform a task.’ My mentor Dr Cohn’s definition of self-confidence is, ‘how strongly you believe in your ability to execute a physical skill or to perform a task.’

Published in Sports Psychology
Tuesday, 09 May 2017 00:00

Sports Psychology: The Soft Stuff

The Olympic motto is well known: Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger). That’s what the Games are all about, human feats of athleticism that we all love to watch. But what people forget is that there is more to the Olympic movement than just striving to be the best in the world.

Published in Sports Psychology
Monday, 13 February 2017 08:22

Sports Psychology: A Letter to Parents

Dear Parents of talented athletes

Published in Sports Psychology

For a parent and a young player it could be the most frustrating aspect of school sport when it appears that a coach has his “special” players which he tends to favour.

Published in National
Monday, 12 December 2016 08:49

Sports Psychology: Don't Panic, Just Breathe

I recently read an article called ‘The #1 Secret Astronauts, Samurai, Navy SEALs, and Psychopaths Can Teach You About Good Decision Making’.

Published in National

There is a concept in the psychology literature called ‘identity foreclosure’, which refers to cases in which someone settles on an identity too soon. In the current sporting climate at schools, there is a real danger of this happening to our most talented young sportsmen and women.

Published in National
Wednesday, 19 October 2016 08:46

The Mind- Sport's Final Frontier

Consider these two questions:

  • What proportion of your sports performance is determined by the mind rather than by physical factors? 
  • What proportion of your training is spent preparing the mind rather than the physical factors?
Published in National
Thursday, 13 October 2016 08:52

Sports Psychology: Success vs Winning

How do you define success?  SUCCESS = __? _

Published in National