We recently officially announced that we are working with Fiji Rugby 7s team in the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games.
Below is the approach we take in working with high-performance sporting teams such as Fiji Rugby 7s, as well as other high-performance sporting teams.
Creating an engaging vision
All long term engagement is driven by meaning (intentionality). It takes intentionality, commitment, energy, resilience and persistence to get a team ready to win consistently. This requires an engaging vision of the future, that awakens and engages personal and collective energy, through time. While simple and yet complex, creating a vision is the first job of a leader and that of a team coach. Without a vision, where are you going? Well, your certain to get there :)
Attitude (the inner game)
In our world, working with people to develop their mental attitude is about facilitating and unleashing their potential under pressure. A mental coaches role is to bring awareness to different aspects of the performance, such as the players’ mindset, the team’s attitudes (culture), the contexts and environmental aspects, that drive or hold back team performance.
Our attitude is the inner game Gestalt, that frames how we experience any given context in reality. This attitudinal Gestalt (meaning; an organised whole that is perceived as greater than the sum of its parts) includes our thoughts, feelings, memories or imaginations, beliefs, values, identity, purpose, intention, etc.. These together filter and frame our experience and combine to create a mind-body-emotional state. Our states the ground how we experience reality itself. They govern and modulate our experience.
Performance (the outer game)
In my experience, professional coaches of high performance sporting teams tend to focus more on the technical, tactical elements (including skill development) and often avoid or resist the people part of the game.
As the inner game of attitude drives the outer of behaviour, this is where we refocus their attention - on the developmental aspects. That includes development in awareness of how individual attitudes, beliefs, identities, and values drive individual behaviors. In leading the teams culture, it’s also important to understand how (and why) this happens in a collective space, where the individual shared understandings, visions, and outcomes drive the on-field performance.
You can read more on this in the article the changing face of high performance sports coaching
Focus on the process
The process of understanding how the inner game drives that outer game, is the difference that makes the difference in consistency. This goes against the grain of the win/lose mentality, because it alters the focus from achieving outcomes to observing and being present to, the unfolding process itself. It’s a paradoxical embrace.
We call this paradoxical embrace learning how to lose. Consistent performance requires a more holistic approach in high-performance sports. The same can be said for high-pressure leadership. We know through our own work, that few high performance sporting teams out there are paying much attention to being present to the process as it unfolds. They tend to pay attention to it before or afterwards (reviewing or preparing) but rarely in the moment.
To do this the coach needs to be able to take a fifth person perspective, to witness all 4 perspectives available as a human being, without preferencing any perspective over another. We call this developing wisdom.