Flexible and Adaptable Health Professionals

In September I sat down with the guys at Football Fitness Federation to discuss flexibility and adaptability as a sports medical professional.

Once again I discuss the role and importance of communication and soft skills (the hidden syllabus!) in coaching.

The webinar focuses specifically on effective communication, support and delivery and working in different sporting cultures.


I thought I would share the show notes that I prepared ahead of the webinar...all of the jumping off points and most importantly links to the books that I mention during the webinar...

Effective Communication

What have been some lessons you've learned from times where you can reflect on poor communication skills?

  • Trying to coach/speak in a style that wasn't natural
  • Take the time to find your own style that you are comfortable with
  • Think about the person receiving the information - speak to them in their language
  • Body language and dress (uniforms) - Nike Basketball kit for football project!
  • Practice - you have to figure out which situations you struggle with (individuals, small groups, large teams, conferences, etc) - You're Hired - Nick Grantham Linchpin - Seth Godin

How does your language change in relation to what group/athlete you work with?

  • Learn to mirror the person you're working with - need to be 'socially smart' - chameleon
  • Each sport has its own language/dress code/traditions (DH MTB call - 'gnarly' 'sweet' - wife looking at me!) - you need to fit in.
  • Thinkers, Doers, Emotional - some want facts, some just want to crack on, some need to appeal to their emotions

How should we deal with different people/personalities?

Support & Delivery

Can you discuss some of the instances you've seen coaches make mistakes when presenting information to athletes/coaches/teams?

  • Designing programmes that appeal to my colleagues but make no sense to the athlete/coach!
  • Fitness testing data and results feedback that resembles an undergraduate dissertation

Can you discuss the importance of active listening and understanding other people's situations?

  • How To Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie - one of the biggest influences for me in understanding the other persons perspective
  • We need to have more humility - we do not have all of the answers - the athlete/coach knows way more than we do about their sport, etc.
  • Map of the world - we need to be able to look at the map from the other person's view.
  • How do we be precise with what we wish to deliver? - Preparation - planning is the key, scripts, rehearsals

Creating & Changing Culture

How can we smoothly get integrated into a team environment?

  • Are you Batman or Alfred? Superhero's sort things quickly but normally leave a trail of destruction behind them
  • The First 90 Days - Michael D Watkins
  • Daily trust project - athletes and coaches have to trust you before they will work with you...that will take time
  • Engage > Connect > Adjust

Can you discuss how you would approach working in challenging environments?

  • The Obstacle Is The Way and The Daily Stoic - Ryan Holiday
  • Pig Wrestling - Pete Lindsay and Mark Bawden
    • Take a step back
    • Reframe
    • Think cleanly
    • What has been tried so far - what do these solutions have in common
    • How would I know this is no longer a problem
    • When is this problem not a problem
    • What has to be present to make this problem occur
    • What's the difference between when this problem happens and when it doesn't

How should we impose our philosophies on a team/athlete?

  • We shouldn't think about 'imposing' - To Sell Is Human - Daniel H Pink - we essentially are trying to get people to do things they don't want to do...we need to understand what motivates them
  • Positive pollution - find things they already do/believe in - work that into your plans
  • Make it their idea - lead from the shadows and be comfortable with others taking credit Hidden Veggies
  • Think Small - Owain Service and Rory Gallagher - normative changes and nudges