Performance, knowledge, humilty and decision making

sent by Nick Grantham | 3rd November 2020

"Injecting the personal into the professional can boost performance."


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Watch any athlete who has just delivered a career-defining performance being interviewed about the secret to their success. You will not hear them talking about lactate thresholds, their personal best back squat or how their FTP has improved by 2 points over the past training block. They will talk about their teammates, their coach, their friends and family and they will talk about the support, love, help, understanding and belief those key figures provided throughout their career that's helped make it all possible. We must not lose sight of the fact that we work with and coach humans, not spreadsheets and algorithms. Creating connections and building trust with the people you work with is the glue that keeps the team or athlete on track during the dark days, when training is tough when the win turns to defeat or they have to pick themselves up from a season-ending injury.

Source: Unknown

"To be conscious that you are ignorant is a great step to knowledge."

Benjamin Disraeli, Sybil (1845)

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We can all recognise that bittersweet spot during our studies when it dawns on us that we really know nothing. Whilst it feels terrifying, it's actually a great starting point to acquire huge swathes of knowledge without bias or long-held opinions holding us back.

Source: The Bumper Book of Things That Nobody Knows by William Hartson

"A trained mind is better than any script."

Ryan Holiday

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One thing I've learnt working in high-performance sport is that you have to be good at dealing with planned unpredictability, ready to adapt the moment the situation changes. How we learn is really important. Whilst being given the answers may be the quickest method of acquiring knowledge, developing a flexible and adaptable mind only comes whilst struggling to solve problems and generate answers ourselves. You don't even need to get the answer right, you can be way off! The struggle will help you create flexible and adaptable solutions to future problems so that you'll know what to do when a situation takes you 'off script'.   

Source: The Daily Stoic - Ryan Holiday

"Let them make decisions about stuff that isn't important."

Justin Crow

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Why do we feel the need to tell the athletes that we work with precisely what they should be doing? Would it be so bad if we allowed a little wiggle room into their training programme, session or day? Building autonomy into your coaching helps to develop an athlete's decision-making skills and research has shown that engagement and adherence to training skyrockets when the athlete feels in control of their schedule. I'm not suggesting we just allow them to make it up as they go along, but maybe allowing them to make some of their own decisions around training could be beneficial in the long run, creating an intelligent athlete capable of making good decisions, even when you're not in the gym or standing by the side of the pitch. Unless of course, you want to be that coach that holds their hands every step of the way!

Source: Personal conversation with Justin Crow during a visit to Essenden Football Club in 2015

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