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A key factor for any coach/player relationship is establishing rapport. How much time do you spend being actively engaged with your athletes, players etc regarding the impact of their psychology on how they perform? Recently by striking up a conversation and establishing rapport, a County Gaelic football player (a traditional Irish Sport) rather sheepishly admitted to me that upwards of 70% of his focus could be disrupted if he forgot to pack his 'lucky' boots, and seemingly no other boots would suffice. So why is this important? The player was not only captain, but also took every 'free' (set piece kick towards goal) hence in terms of influence and productivity, he was arguably the most important player on the team.
He was preparing to play in an Ulster Final, but what if during the semi-final he'd missed a game defining kick due to 70% of his focus being disrupted by not having packed his lucky boots. Instead both his team and his County may have missed out on competing for a much coveted Ulster Final title. It isn't hard to visualise the fans streaming out at the end, still cursing his luck at missing the kick while completely unaware at the vital moment that their Captain felt intrinsically ill-at-ease, the result of which was missing the kick. Consequently he would feel distraught and so his unease would continue, while his County board would lose substantial revenue minus the gate receipts, shirts, hats, match programmes and scarf sales which would inevitably ensue. The impact of psychology has far-reaching consequences, most of which can be managed through coach rapport. (Post a response)
That's a really interesting post, David. Up until last year I was coaching national and international level gymnasts. At the time I felt like I was really open with everyone I was coaching and made ample time to check in with them and build rapport. I was also really busy running the club and always dashing in and out. Looking back, as I got busier and busier juggling more and more, I was less and less available to the gymnasts. I only realise since I made a move to coach full time for Cirque du Soleil and I'm coaching in a different environment, at a different pace. Each day is geared up towards the evening's performance. I have time and a rhythm throughout the day to spend lots of short yet quality moments with the acrobats, getting to know their confidences and worries for the day. They go out on stage and perform in front of thousands of people and it really is important that I have that time to spend with them each day. Sometimes if a performance is slightly off or if an acrobat is displeased with something about their performance and I don't know why, it's often because that's a day I didn't get to spend time with them and I'm annoyed at myself for that because I should know what's going on for them each day.
I appreciate your response. It completely encapsulates the consequential nature of overlooking the impact of mutual rapport. After winning gold at the London 2012 Olympics, cyclist Sir Chris Hoy was quick to pay tribute to reaping the benefits of marginal gains. Each of which were developed by Team GB, with unique specifications to gain a 1% edge in every aspect of racing opponents. An example was taking his pillow on tour. Another was the controversial introduction of aerodynamic skin suits, and a further example was being accompanied by psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters, who played an integral role in their accomplishments by staging regular conversations with the athletes. Steve said, 'Every person has a machine in their head which has thoughts and emotions. What we want to know is, what are these thoughts and emotions doing and how does this impact on their sporting performance?' In other words, he established rapport as part of the strategy for marginal gains. Team GB acknowledged how the mental machinery was every bit as important as the technical machinery, but this could only be determined by way of rapport. The consequence for Sir Chris Hoy was winning Olympic gold. For your performers the consequence is a show-stopping performance, but can be equally tragic and carries imminent danger due to the high risk nature of the stunts they perform. So courtesy of Dr Steve Peters I leave you with the thought, that the least they can expect is a conversation about what their thoughts and emotions are doing before they perform. I welcome any response.
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