As a coach, and team leader, I have always placed emphasis on mental and emotional training, or the “balance” of an athlete, and regarded it as, or more important than physical ability. My coaching experience and training has me firmly believe that when we are in the right frame of mind, we are capable of achieving anything and everything.
Much of what I have learned over the years, both as an athlete and coach applies to any team, whether it be sport or business.
New coaches and people leaders who invest in a complete and well-rounded training circuit, will be surprised by the weight and time given to the mental side of the profession.
In the high-pressure setting of qualification play, or playoff final matches, emotional support is critical and crucial. Athletes are performers, and need to know that they have the unconditional support of their coaches, teammates, fans, and loved ones. Technical and tactical training has all taken place over weeks, months and years (if you are so fortunate). The mental and emotional coaching is a process that must survive and be offered and delivered in real time each and every day. Something I would recommend to community coaches, who are seldomly paid, and struggle to get access to authentic guidance and mentorship. The emotional support, not unlike that which a parent offers their child, helps to build self-esteem and ultimately fuels the confidence needed to perform at their highest levels. Game day is no different than a live performance for an actor or actress. It is no different than sitting to write a final exam, or attending a job interview. Confidence and emotional support are not only essential, but have profound influence on outcomes. This approach or philosophy can and should be applied to any high performance team in any industry.
Understanding the importance of helping teammates manage stress and anxiety is something every leader, coach, manager, director must embrace. Developing strategies and techniques together such as deep breathing, visualization, planned distraction, and meditation obviously help with focused and creating a general calm when expecting to be under pressure.
Leadership is not all about the words being used to motivate, it is about demonstration, execution and belief. When a teammate is able to “attach” themselves to a practice that they have seen work, it usually works for them as well. Devoted team members understand through positive reinforcement and experience, that mental state has a direct impact on performance, and that the ability to manage stress and anxiety plays a vital role in the steps taken towards success.
Another important aspect of emotional support is the ability to set and achieve realistic goals. Whether it is in the sports or business world, I work towards setting goals that are challenging but achievable, and then provide guidance and support as we work to achieve them. Today’s terminology is “stretch goal”. I like to remind teammates and individuals, that setting and achieving realistic goals is a critical part of their development. Incremental achievable targets that work towards an ultimate goal works best.
Protection! If a coach or leader must always be willing to step into the line of fire, or address an issue with the truth while at the same time managing to protect the team,.. they have done their job. High performance teams will make mistakes, and they are high performance teams because they are made to feel safe when they do. This is an art, it is a science, and it is another gem for a coach to keep front of mind!
Lastly, keeping things in perspective is critical. A finals match is an important event, but it is not the only thing that defines an athlete’s career. Although these moments are defining moments they must be compartmentalized in “the moment”. Pressure is already present, so by embracing the “event”, “game” “deployment” or “launch” as something that has been done before, achieved before, managed before, athletes and teams perform at their best without getting caught up in “gravity” of the moment.
In my experience, emotional support is a vital part of an athlete’s or teams ability to perform at their maximum potential in high stakes situations. As a coach or leader, it is your responsibility to create a positive, encouraging and safe environment, one the helps people manage stress and anxiety, set and achieve realistic goals, and provide perspective. By doing so, coaches and leaders help athletes and business teammates overcome the pressure of a finals match, solve a technical problem, or deliver on an initiative while performing at their highest levels.
How does this relate to dib®
Teams function at their best when there is an air of confidence, and confidence is something that is developed. It is built day by day, bit by bit, practice by practice. It must be nurtured and fed over long periods of time.
Key takeaway: what takes years to develop, can be eroded in days if you are not emotionally careful with your team(s).
We underserve the people who make up our teams when we focus solely on task or technical proficiency, and leave the individual to manage the “human aspect” of it all.
High-Stakes situations call for super calm leaders, who not only believe in their teams, but protect them as well.
Coaching will always play an important role in my life.
“Confidence comes as a result of trust, and trust is a currency.”
– William Lucas
– William Lucas – this is dib®