Imagine you’re setting out on your dream holiday. You’re getting lots of advice from people who want you to have a great time. They’re telling you what you should do, what you shouldn’t do and even how you should get there. But they don't ask you what you want or what's important to you. There's a good chance you might find it all a bit frustrating.
Young athletes are often setting out on their dream journey – to the Olympics, the World Cup or somewhere closer to home. Inspired by their sporting heroes and supported by their family, friends and coaches. All too often though, the well-meaning advice they get frustrates them too.
Where my journey began..
When I was 16 years old, setting out on my sporting journey, with enthusiasm and a dodgy haircut, I received plenty of advice. My school coach, my club coach, my county coach, my regional coach all had good ideas. The only problem was that they often contradicted each other and, not surprisingly, I became more and more confused.
My performances started to go backwards but thankfully my dad recognised that I was struggling. On a car journey home, he asked me what was bothering me and when I explained he just said ‘Bob, you’re the one that crosses the line onto the pitch’. It’s a message that has stuck with me. He didn’t tell what I should do or recommend that I ignored my coaches. He just suggested that I listened and then decided what to try, use and reject.
But coaching is so much better these days – isn’t it?
Aspiring young sports people today are often part of structured development programmes – academies, player pathways, single systems – and the standard of coaching is improving all the time. I’ve noticed that these programmes encourage conformity though. Technical skills are standardised. Physical conditioning is programmed and measured. Mental skills are taught with no understanding of individual experiences. This may suit some but many don’t fit the mould.
Which is where The Mindset Hub comes in. We promise to help athletes to ‘Find Your Way’. To help them to develop a mindset that works for them, based on their values, beliefs and strengths.
Coaches don’t want robots - do they?
I can understand that some athletes will be worried that finding their own way might mean that they won't be selected. I once heard a Head Coach say that he’d been accused of creating robots and he proudly claimed that if that was the case he wanted more robots like them. I honestly believe that he is in a minority but why take the risk. Maybe it's better to toe the line?
So, to be clear, I don’t advocate ignoring coaches or playing the rebel. That’s not my style! What I started to learn all those years ago is that it pays to be self-aware, independently minded and take responsibility for your own performance. That’s what The Mindset Hub help’s young athletes to do, to find their way.
I look forward to seeing you soon.