Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Business Coaching skills for Sports Coaches

I was very pleased to take part in the first UKA Coach Share Conference in October 2012 and have posted the transcript of my talk here. There were about 30 of us who all had 6 minutes to share our thoughts, views or specific techniques for other coaches and these are all available on the UKA Coach Share website for UKA Coaches.


Business Coaching skills for Sports Coaches


Good morning, my name is Annie Page and I am a Sports and Business Coach who works with individuals and teams on achieving their goals and I am here to talk to you about utilising business coaching skills as sports coaches.

 Before I start I would like you to think of a time when you struggled as a coach (or athlete) and what would have been the one piece of advice that would have been useful to you at that time. Take a moment to share it with the person next to you.... we will be coming back to this later.

Ok - I know from my own sports coaching experience how much more effective I can be working with athletes not just on their performance and technical ability but also with their beliefs about who they are and what they can do. Working with their own self talk and making sure I coach them from their point of view not mine.

The beliefs we hold are hugely impactful on what we do and how we do it - I'm sure you've all heard the quote by Henry Ford:

'Whether you think you can or you think you can't, either way you will be right'

 As coaches we need to work with athletes so they can move away from their own internal unhelpful self talk and be able to harness their strengths - which will help shift their thinking in order to be the best they can as individuals to give their best performance in competition through practice and training. So that we as coaches are being athlete centred not just around performance, but around their inner self talk and beliefs. When we do this we will see athletes who understand their own self talk, who they are as an athlete, what beliefs they hold that will help them and how to take control and change those that hinder them. We will hear ourselves communicating effectively, talking to athletes in their own way and utilising language as a powerful tool.

For example a runner I was working with kept stopping on the same hill - her technique was fine and the difference was what she was saying to herself, 'don't stop, don't stop' - our brain ignores the negative 'don't' and focuses on 'stop' the body does what its told and stops! We worked together and looked at what she did wanted to do - 'get to the top' - and changed the inner self talk to 'to the top, to the top' and now she runs that hill every time. She is also able to take that learning into other areas of her performance.

Athletes can feel the difference in a great performance compared to a good one and by working with them and their internal feelings of what 'great' means we can recreate those feelings before they go out into the field of play and they can go into the competition in 'great' mode.

When an athlete is in competition we need them to be in control and responsible for their performance. We all saw in the Olympics what can happen when a coach has too much responsibility for the performance - Holly Bleasdale being a great example of that. This can lead to people losing trust in themselves as an athlete and in us as a coach.

As coaches we have to manage ourselves in those moments and work with the athlete in practice and training so they can manage their own inner selves. The athlete is still the one who has to perform - they are the ones who need to understand how they can be in the best place mentally at that moment in time and we as coaches need to help them understand how they can do that.

What I'm saying is not that all coaches have to go through Business Coaching training, but to take from it the areas that we can utilise about how the mind can enhance or detract from performance and add it to the technique and performance coaching training that we do. To do this I believe it does need to become part of what we learn as we go through the coaching levels. In this way we will learn how to deliver our sessions for the athlete.

We also need to take responsibility for our learning and in the same way we plan and monitor our sessions we need to have reflective time about how we delivered it. In this way we can become coaches in the fullest meaning of the word, delivering training to enhance performance of the mind and the body.

In British cycling they looked at performance and thought that having 100% ability was only 80% of the performance - the other 20% came from Belief, Commitment and Focus and how these areas work for each individual athlete is where we need to develop as coaches in order to develop our athletes - understanding what is the difference that makes the difference.

Now take a moment to think back to the start and that one piece of advice that would have helped - how much of it is about how you feel and therefore how your mind reacts to it... Thank you for your time and attention. this morning and remember next time you think ' I don't want....' change it to think about what you 'do want....' and see what difference this can bring you.

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