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Download e-book There Is an I in Team: What Elite Athletes and Coaches Really Know About High Performance

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How on earth to bring fun to an environment like that? People are hungry for that. This is a hard endeavour to put yourself right on the line and achieve to get everything you possibly can out of your own locker and and into your performance. I think the onus is on the teams and the coaches and the people who work behind the scenes to to bring that and to allow for that. Play is very natural to us.

But I think secondly: making sure that people feel that they can be free to be who they are. And they can stuff about and they can have fun? And you know laughter, fun, oxytocin, endorphins. It has massively positive effects on brain chemistry. What does that mean. Does that mean them dropping their guard or not being as conscious.

What what does that mean?

Tips for parents of pre-elite athletes workshop 22 April 2018 – video transcript

Pippa It means both of those things and it means being free to be not judged on anything at any point in time. Increasingly like that looming goal that one opportunity, that one open window seems so big that the tension builds and builds. But how are you not judged for that evening. Elite athletes, everybody wants a piece of them all the time. Everybody wants a piece of them and then that my experience of them has been on the whole very generous and graceful with it.

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You know, fans media etc. You mentioned something interesting along the way which was the variety of approaches. And you talk about a variety of approaches. Is that something that you see different coaches being more or less comfortable with. Pippa Definitely. But as athletes get more established and they know what works for them. Great coaches let people do their own thing in that in that prep time in the run up to a game. It takes them in the wrong direction. And so. Can you start to let us understand how the best of them start building a winning culture.

What what are the actions they would take to do that. Pippa The first thing to say is that the coach in a team is the custodian of the culture.

There Is an I in Team: What Elite Athletes and Coaches Really Know About High Performance

He or she needs to be talking about it. They need to be explaining why it matters what it is how it feels. And why they want to go about something a certain way and what matters to them that usually gets the best outcomes. And I see them also role modelling. I see them role modelling vulnerability.

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I see them role modelling standards. I see them role modelling tough moments. I remember seeing a piece where they had just lost the Grand Final. It was devastating for them and he had a moment of leadership that I think was brilliant cultural leadership where he actually said at the end of the game in the room where it was dire. At this moment in time. And I thought that was wonderful role modelling for culture. And certainly something that will go forward with those being because when you and I spoke in preparation for one of the multiple attempts of trying to do it to get you, to pin you down I said it must be really important to build this positive culture and this sort of positive thing.

And I wonder if you could give us a perspective on how you see the balance of those things and why resilience is so important. Somebody explained it to me once as you know the difference between mental toughness and resilience.


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And I think sometimes we get a little bit caught in the idea that resilience means always positive, always okay, always brilliant. And when we can also understand our energy and environment. I wonder to what extent as well — for young players especially — witnessing the narrative of someone like Gareth Southgate whose penalty miss in Euro 96 potentially cost England the whole tournament but at least cost them the place the final. How important is that for the credential of any coach that sense that they are flawed and human.

Does that allow people to access that resilience a bit in a second hand way? Pippa I feel that leaders… when somebody has faced adversity, leaders learn from that or build resilience from that when they have actually reflected on what it means. For a leader to be credible does failure actually enhance the credibility of their story. Does it make them more relatable.

Pippa I suspect it does make them more relatable. And as long as I can tell the stories about it well. Failure is one thing. But then if we admire from afar is much less powerful than if that person has a vulnerability to stand up and talk about that and not with loads of gloss — in a really real human way to talk.

I think Brene Brown taught us lots about vulnerability in that way. Now on the subject of Brene Brown, Brene Brown is world renowned for the idea of vulnerability. Maybe leaders and everyone showing their their flaws as well as their strengths. Brene Brown actually quoted your work, in a speech in Australia she talked about your work and I think she gave the example about penalty shootouts.

And is that right. What did she talk about.

Why was she mentioning you? Pippa Why was she talking about me? Example because oxytocin the chemical that you mentioned before has this strange impact is sort of the love hormone So oxytocin makes us feel immense connection with people — I suspect all the touching that you describe in the run up to a game is all about oxytocin — but it also makes us immensely tribal. Pippa Yeah definitely. The Jonny Wilkinson kick.

The smart things to understand about the psychology where whatever the outcome for that person is, how are they connected to the group before and after the event. You know oxytocin is huge in that. You know all of these professions are filled with masculinity, testosterone. But it is weird, it is weird. You know I can think of a time with rugby league guys in New Zealand where their ritual is to when you join the team you have to sing at the front of the bus still makes my heart lurch when I think about that. How do we how do we do this with her?

But actually I think the way I operate as a woman, and the difference has created enough of a pause in the hyper masculine environments for me to do good work. And so do they. And I do I feel like I fit? I usually feel like a visiting pilgrim. Not quite fully belonging in the in the boysiness but that difference is why I can do good work.

And the one thing I was saying to you was that they looked at British athletes. In the analysis, they did 16 of Super Elite athletes — so these are people who were medaling at Gold — had experienced critically challenging events in their development which was a death of a parent or a suicide attempt or bullying but only four of the elite athletes the ones the level below had.

But I think you had an interesting take on that. That might not be on the page. How many plans do we know really that say you want people to feel less fatigued at the end of the day or more willing to be vulnerable or that the soul of the team seems a bit better. And tell me this from your perspective can you improve the culture but lose a game. Is it like a long term thing? Pippa It absolutely is a long game. You can improve the culture and lose a game.

There Is an I in Team: What Elite Athletes and Coaches Really Know About High Performance

The example I gave of coach Nathan Buckley before was a culture improvement and you can win lots of games and not improve the culture at all because winning is not the same as good culture. But sustained winning is absolutely underpinned by good culture. And one of the first things he did when he went to Dortmund his team before Liverpool. Is that the 11 players on the pitch or the 22 players in the squad or is it those people plus the coaches?

Or where does it end? But if they have an understanding that they belong in something bigger they have an identity connected to more people that are absolutely looking at the same things that they are, absolutely sharing their dreams and there for them good bad or ugly. That is extremely helpful in maintaining a sense of motivation. He introduced something where at the end of the game he would take the players to to cheer the support. The England team did that to some extent but it went beyond the players.

There was physios on the pitch, the was medics on the pitch. What would be the mentality that goes into a decision like that? Pippa I think the idea that a broader group than the people who have just won or lost. All of us are in it.