I sat and listened to The High Performance Podcast today and it was a fascinating episode in which Jonny Wilkinson speaks frankly about the pressure of expectation and the mental health implications of leading a life defined by others.
It's a great listen, and during the interview he said something that I thought linked really well to coaching and how I believe we can get better at engaging with the athletes, coaches and support staff that we work with.
"Go back through the door they present."
He explained that when we are coaching we have listen to what an athlete is really saying to us. Often they will say something that presents an opportunity for us to gain an insight into their world. Jonny refers to this as the player opening a door to their world. If we can recognise the open door we can walk through it into their world
During the early part of my career I was very quick to try and impose my training principles on the athletes, coaches and suppport staff that I worked with. Sometimes it would work, but I'm sure there were also times when it fell flat on it's face.
I think that in those early years I wasn't very good at walking through the doors that athletes and coaches presented to me. Instead I thought that I had a much better door to walk through!
How many times in your own career have you missed the open door that is presented to you? How many times have you slammed athletes door shut, insisting that you know best?
In the later years of my career I think I've learnt to spot the moments when an athlete, coach or other member of support staff is opening a door and inviting me to step through to take a look into their world.
When you start to spot the open doors you've got a much better chance of gaining an insight into an athletes performance and you'll stand a better chance of helping them with their performance.
Have a listen to the episode and let me know what you think.