Coach’s Corner: A Culture of Self-improvement: 10 Coaching Lessons from a World Class Performer
A Culture of Self-improvement: 10 Coaching Lessons from a World Class Performer
A Culture of Self-improvement: Ten Coaching Lessons from a World Class Performer by Sports coach UK Coach-Education Advisors Andy Grant and Sarah Collings.
With a previous World Ranking of fourth, multiple national titles, European and World podium finishes and a Commonwealth Bronze Medal from the 1998 Games, Sarah Collings knows what it takes to reach the higher echelons of elite sport.
Despite the memories of early morning starts, painful sessions in the swimming pool and suffering mental and physiological pain, Sarah recently returned to the pool to pursue new goals and at Masters level, becoming national champion in the 200m, 400m and 800m Front Crawl and British Record Holder in the 400m and 800m.
And all this on top of her career with sports coach UK as a Coach Education Advisor and raising a young family. So it would appear that if anyone is well-placed to offer a few lessons on what it takes to strive for continual self-improvement, then Sarah is that person.
The following are extracts from a recent speech given by Sarah to aspiring young athletes at a sports academy.
Ten lessons on self-improvement that coaches should share with participants who aspire to reach the top of their sport:
1. Dreams do come true
Everything starts with a dream…a vision…a goal.
There are a number of things that you should do every day to keep life special. You should laugh, think, challenge yourself, and put 100% effort into everything that you do.
There are no guarantees in life, nothing is easy, and certainly, achieving success in sport is never going to be easy.
Yet dreams really can come true, so why not make yours come true? If it’s not you, it will be someone else, someone who perhaps wanted that dream a little more
2. Believe in You
Once in a while ask yourself ‘who you think you are’. Learn to look at the way you come across to others, and ask yourself that from their perspective or their eyes, do you believe in yourself or could you do more to excel at what you do.
A huge part of believing in you is in the ability to control your mind. My mind had the power to help win races, or prevent it winning races. I had to make a conscious decision every time I raced, to engage a winning mentality.
In order to self-improve and develop a better you, don’t compare yourself to others. Learn to become better at being you and improving your abilities. Understand the perspective of others, and the role they can play in helping you become better, but strive to be a better you.
So what affects your resilience? How do you understand what affects your resilience? For me this was and still is people. Events, such as a bad swim, or a difficulty day at work do not increase or decrease my ability to cope, people do. People have the power to reduce my ability to self-improve and pursue my goals, so I have to work hard to learn from others, but be strong enough not to be negatively affected by others.
There is no doubt that at any given point during an athletic career, you will need to overcome adversity. Quite often, you will not be able to predict the source of the adversity, or the size of it, but the measure of your strength of your character will be how you overcome it.
Deal with the issue, remove your emotions from the problem and find the solution. Focusing your mind on solving the problem will help you continue on your journey, and to achieve your desired success along the way.
5. Make this your time
You can’t ever be sure that opportunities that fall your way through your sport will continue to come your way. Treat every opportunity like it may be your last.
At 17, when I was first selected to swim for England, my dad told me ‘Sarah, please make the most of this opportunity, because you may never get another chance like this.’
So make this your time, go away tomorrow, and think about that one thing that you could do to make a difference. That one small change could have a huge impact.
Above all, having a determination to improve is paramount to success. Quite simply, if you are determined you will get done whatever work is necessary to achieve your goals. How you deal with training, competing, success, and adversity is a measure of the kind of character you are and the level of success you may achieve. Great athletes are motivated from within to succeed, and determined to achieve.
So ask yourself:
- What will you do to self-improve and achieve your goals
- Are you willing to sacrifice the normal life for something much more rewarding
- Will you challenge yourself and be the best that you can be
Truly successful people, whether in an individual or team sport, work together. There is a level of communication and interaction that makes people more successful. A team can be your peers in your sport, the team of coaches and teachers around you, or your family and friends and your support network. Everyone can play a part in creating a culture of self-improvement.
Whatever sport you do, you should be part of a team, so utilise the strengths of the people around you, to improve your performance, and increase your success.
8. For Family, School, Club, Country
There may be times when your drive for self-improvement may come from your determination not to let others down.
When I was 18 I was selected to swim in my first senior major games.
Four hours before the race I slipped at the hotel and broke two ribs. I didn’t want to let the selection team, my family, my friends and everyone back at my local club, down.
Despite the agonising pain searing through my body, I raced the 800m FC final, and I won bronze in a personal best time, although I have no memory at all of the race, medal presentation or the subsequent treatment of the ribs!
The lesson of the story? It shows that my determination in this critical situation was driven because I couldn’t let down my family, friends, club and country.
9. Embrace you.
I now know I am a rigid perfectionist, highly demanding, and I fear failure. I am learning to embrace these traits and work out how to use them to my advantage, not try and change myself.
You need to learn that, if you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will. So, therefore, you need to show the world why nobody is better than you.
I am still learning to embrace the way that I am and what made me a success and finding ways to stop doubting myself.
10. Never stop learning.
Your understanding of what or who you want to be will direct your self-improvement. No matter what age you should seek to engage a philosophy of continual improvement.
- Who are you now?
- Who do you want to be?
- What do you think will help you get there?
If you find yourself following these 10 lessons on a regular basis, you are now embracing a culture of self-improvement.