Hi Coaches, welcome to week two of our coaching blog series focusing on player and coach’s psychological performance and well-being in partnership with Changing Minds!
Last week we introduced ‘accept’, the first of the three fundamentals of the Performing Well framework, and explored the importance of taking time to acknowledge and accept that when individuals experience new challenges, there may an increase in anxiety and nervousness around this, which could affect an individual’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Taking time to accept and acknowledge these thoughts and feelings both in ourselves and others will help us to provide not only a safe and welcome return to training, but also a psychologically safe environment for our coaches, players, and support staff.
Connect – We are all human, we all make mistakes
The second fundamental component of the Performing Well framework is ‘connect’. It is important to recognise the importance of relationships, and knowing when and how to seek support from your networks. This feeling of togetherness helps us to feel strong and build a clearer picture of what is happening around us. It also helps us to understand how others might be feeling and how this might affect their performance, which ultimately helps coaches to understand how to create the most appropriate environment or participants to thrive. Collectively being able to identify challenges we face, and how to overcome them, makes us all more effective.
Connection is all about building relationships. A key skill to establishing strong relationships is empathy. How do we as coaches, show empathy?
Coaches have the opportunity to role model key behaviours such as openness and connection, for example around their experiences and thoughts. By being open about how you feel about the return to training (sharing as much as you are comfortable with!), can help your participants to understand that embarking on the return to training and competition is a mutual journey, and will hopefully encourage your participants to do the same.
Understanding what might be impacting an individual’s return to netball, and what they might be feeling is key. It is important to recognise that over recent months, whilst some groups and individuals will have been very active through individual training at home or through the Virtual Netball Club, this may not be applicable for everyone. Some participants may have been self-isolating, may have been shielding, or may be multi-tasking as an employee, parent and partner for the last six months and not had chance to fit much else in. The return to their Thursday evening netball session may mean more to them then just improving their fitness. The social connection and interaction with their friends and netball family might be just as, if not more important to them, and it is important to take this into consideration.
- Consider allocating some time, particularly in those first few sessions back, to allow your group to socialise and interact with one another (with a 4 foot distance, of course!)
- Identify opportunities in your session planning where you can thread through some team building and connection based activities, maybe during the warm up for example. A favourite of ours is two truths and a lie!
In teams, each person has to say a statement about themselves to the other teams. One person in the team says a statement that is not true. The other teams have to guess who the liar is!
- Some participants may not feel ready to return to training or your session yet, and may also be missing the social element of sport. Think of different ways to stay connected– maybe set up a group WhatsApp or book a Zoom call in for a virtual netball fitness session or quiz and catch up call. Can you do a team or group challenge, whereby the activity can be completed individually away from training, and a results table is created as a mini team challenge?