Ahead of the virtual event, Mental Gold – Driving High Performance through Mental Training, on 20 October, The Coaching Room co-founder and managing partner, Jay Hedley, spoke with Ministry of Sport.
Jay Hedley helps Head Coach Gareth Baber extract the best from men's the Fiji Rugby 7s Team. As featured in the Fiji Sun
Jay Hedley is managing partner of The Coaching Room. He has been working with Andrew Hore since April 2017.
We are proud to be part of the Fiji Rugby 7s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Gold Medal-Winning Team.
We have been working with Gareth Baber, the Coaching Staff and Playing team for more than 3-years on this campaign, winning the 2019 World Series title and the 2021 Oceania Tournament (V Australia and New Zealand) along the way.
Results – in 2018, we helped Waratahs Rugby change their culture and move from 4th last at the end of season 2018 to semi-finals in 2019. We have worked with the Waratahs and NSW Leadership team including CEO Andrew Hore, Administration staff, Management staff, Coaching staff including Head Coach Daryl Gibson and his assistant coaches, as well as the players themselves.
Working with NSWIS leaders and coaches in communication, leadership and teamwork skill development.
We continue to support NSWIS in 2019.
Results – in 2020 we worked with Red Bull Racing on understanding personality and communication within the team. Red Bull completed the season as number 2 behind Mercedes and currently lead the season for the first time in 2021.
In May 2021, we began working with the Firebirds coaching staff and Netball team in building a high-performance culture. We continue with this work and look forward to the results in this and coming seasons.
“As a sports coach and leader, I am exposed to the numerous, differing and diverse issues which can affect performance Through the work I have accomplished with Jay, I feel that I am beginning to have a greater understanding of these issues as well as those strategies which are required to enable an individual and team to rationalise and overcome such problems.
The focus of this work has very much surrounded my own coaching process and specifically my own inbuilt belief system.
Through challenging this process and mindset, I am recognising how my own personality and characteristics play a pivotal role in my coaching and particularly my relationships with my players.
I believe that anyone in a similar position and having someone in your Management Group with Jay's quality skills and vision is fundamental in enabling both oneself and the team to unlock their potential.”
I wasn’t systemic in my approach. So I’m changing the way I work. I have a terrible habit of living in the worst-case scenario. That can be extremely unhealthy, because I’m walking around in a world where it’s raining every day and there are probably vampires.
So, one of the things I had to do was stop thinking about the worst that could happen. Jay calls it looking at things through frames: you have a perception that’s largely opinion, not fact, and so you enter a conversation or a situation looking through that frame. What I like about what Jay does is he unpacks that perception and identifies the bits that are based on fact. What’s really nice is Jay is now teaching my leadership group how they can help teach others. It’s about getting them to account for their behaviour and then help those below them.
Working with Jay has made an inordinate amount of difference to my personal life, too, particularly in my relationship with my oldest son.
Leadership starts with self-leadership and a focus on self-awareness and self-development. This is the work of growing up, waking up, cleaning up and showing up.
The first three, have to do with our inner game. The personal work we do within our consciousness. This is the developmental work we engage in. The fourth (showing up) is where we enact real change in reality. It's how we actualise our potential.
Growing up is about maturity - being able to take multiple perspectives under pressure and responding appropriately. The more perspectives we can take, the more complexity we can hold, the more we can influence the environment, and the less influence the environment has upon us, in the face of the pressures that come with elite level sports.
Waking up is about the disidentification with the self through our state experience. That is the presence and mindfulness, we can release the egoic conditioning of the self and self-structures that limit the athlete and the team.
Cleaning up is about clearing the mental barriers and prior intentions, beliefs, values and identity structures that getting in the way of us achieving potential.
Showing up is the enactment of all of the above. It's where we make meaning matter. Here we ground our development in contextual appropriation. Abraham Maslow called this self-actualisation.
Leadership is contextual, meaning that the leadership approach depends on the contextual elements present (mindset, culture-set, skillset, system-set). Coaches in particular, need to understand the stage of development of the individual and of the team, in order to craft their message accordingly, to enable their peers and players to wake up, grow up, clean up and show up…
Firstly, we need to understand where the leverage is. Is the issue a:
One of Mindset - Attitude/Mental skills issue?
One of the Culture set - Cultural/Values/Mutual understanding/alignment issue?
One of Skillset - is this a physical/skills/capability issue?
A Structural set - is this a process/environmental/systems-based issue?
For example, players/teams are performing below their capability, ask, is it?
- Mindset? For example anxiety = fear or apprehension (Worst Case) about what's to come?
- Skillset? Fatigue = extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness?
- Culture Set? Team Complacency = a feeling of uncritical satisfaction or security, often while being unaware of the potential danger?
- System Set? Structural - Not understanding and implementing the agreed process and team structures?
Gilbert Inoka, metal skills coach of the All Blacks, says there are no magic bullets. He's right, based on his extensive experience, but there are some simple mental skills staples you can apply.
EG. Firstly, diagnose the issue (as above). Determine where the leverage is, Then…
- Have one-to-one coaching conversations with individuals about the meanings they bring to risk and failure. Get into their heads and seek to understand how they process pressure.
- Have team coaching conversations with groups about shared meanings of risk and failure. Listen for any shared beliefs or limiting values... Discuss them at length and reframes where appropriate
- Understand how the coaches are communicating with the players in training and in-game (identify and shift the language and approach used, where appropriate, to get a different outcome)
- Implement a structure of mental skills training for anxiety, resilience, thinking clearly under pressure, breathing exercises, mindfulness exercises, focus processes, anchoring states, clearing the mind of egoic conditioning, developmental practices, etc.
1. Everyone has a role to play. That is, whether you're the captain up follower a player on the bench a water carrier, a physio, or the coach herself, you have a role to play, and everyone needs to play that role to the very best of their ability, on behalf of the team. When individuals play this way teams prosper!
11. Identify your core intention (the heart of what you are all about). Maintain that at all costs, whilst simultaneously identifying areas for continuous improvement. The inches. Winning is a game of inches.
Firstly, we advocate for separating feedback from its counterpart, feedforward. Feedback is objective, measurable, evidence-based, realistic and changeable. Feedforward is subjective, opinion based. Feedback needs to be permission-based, that is the person receiving it must've given permission for it to be given in the first place. It needs to be given with rapport or not given at all. Feedforward needs to be well-framed as subjective information (in my opinion) that can be then taken and used or let go through to the keeper.
Secondly, we advocate for a relationship first, task second approach.
Thirdly, coaches, managers and leaders need to advocate for feedback by giving each other feedback in the view of others. After all leadership is going first
With high-quality feedback (with skillful means) being delivered coach to player, coach to coach, player to player, and player to coach, the team will begin to grow and develop and thrive as a result. This is how ypu go about building a culture of resilience.
Meaning drives performance, period! Framing is to provide information in a meaningful way, that engages the listener's neuro-semantic system. For example, practice is 3 x more effective, when made purposeful (purposeful practice). When the practice makes sense to the person practicing, they engage all of their neurology, taking the practice to a higher level. An example may be engaging in a drill for developing a skill; the coach creates a scenario where the output of the practice will be required. The athlete engages in the practice as if they're in the scenario itself. This is purposeful practice...
Framing is also important in giving and receiving feedback. For example, a coach may want to give a player some feedback after a drill - they might frame the conversation with permission, frame the p[ositive intention of giving the feedback and then deliver the feedback itself:
"May I share my experience of observing your performance over the last 10 minutes?" So, in service of your growth and development, I noticed your energetic output was 10% lower than your peers. Were you aware of that? If you were to put a finger on what happened, would you say it was anxiety, fatigue, or complacency you were experiencing?"
I. Mental resilience -building and stacking a state resources anchor that creates the mental/emotional resources required when under pressure.
II. Visualisation techniques - visualising parts of your game unfolding from a 1st person perspective, and applying resource anchors in a timeline, so when you get to that point in time, you have the resource available to you, that is appropriate (winning, before you win).
III. Taking multiple perspectives - Looking at/looking as. The practice of taking multiple perspectives within the moment. Building the capability to see, hold and implement from a holistic perspective. To act from wisdom.
IV. Breathing exercises - building physical resilience through breathwork. Building up the body from and acid to alkaline state through breathing exercises. This enables less fatigue and more vitality when required.
V. Cold therapy - the process of building mental fitness and physiological resilience.
VI. Mindfulness - the ability to become intentional about where you place your attention. To intentionally practice focussing your attention in the present. In other words, to be where you are, and pay attention to what is most important now. Cold therapy helps with this.
Sports Psychology and high-performance coaching is evolving. To take the next step in your or your team’s evolution contact us to book in a complimentary discussion