Feb 27, 2021

Psychology in Sport with Iain Shippey

About Iain

Iain Shippey founded Thincsport in an endeavor to partner with players, coaches, and parents – and consults with individual players, business leaders, coaches, schools, clubs and universities to help them seize the mental edge and develop into transformative leaders. He runs courses in Leadership and Human Performance, which incorporates the fundamental building blocks of Applied Sports Psychology. He co-authored a next-gen course with Dr. Melissa Adendorff, who is an academic, elite ballerina and performance coach. In a very exciting development, Iain is forming a new company, with Paul Mills the CEO of HFPA (https://hfpa.co.za) they are going to be offering new qualifications in the fields of Wellness and Human Performance Coaching in partnership with leading Performance Coaches in the USA and NZ. Among the team are Kamerion Winfrey, former NFL star, and  Ron Miller who worked at FSU, Florida State University as a strength and conditioning coach with multiple elite athletes. John Quinn the Crusaders Mental Coach also adds significant value to the team. Iain, comes to life at the intersection of professional sport, coach mentorship, and youth development – describing this as the juncture in which sport facilitates infinite possibility with Millennials and Generation Z. He is part of the SA Men’s Hockey support team, serving under the leadership of coach, Garreth Ewing as a Leadership and Culture coach.

What is a Coaching Philosophy – Part 2?

To recap, last week I wrote about the importance of having a coaching philosophy. It serves as a GPS locator as you navigate your way through the sports world which is full of passion, burgeoning egos and varying power struggles and political battles. To illustrate how different contexts may be let me site two examples. I have helped establish a soccer club in Soweto where our primary purpose was to mentor Teens and keep them active in the afternoons and out of the gangs. It was not about winning matches but winning in life. Fortunately, we did both and our coach, ‘Lucky’ built winning teams. The coach who takes over at Manchester United, can’t just show up, he has to play winning football and finish in the top four of the league.

A coaching philosophy is a statement that underlines a coach’s values, opinions and beliefs. It is drawn based on their experience and knowledge. A coaching philosophy spells out the coach’s aspects of delivery and it offers a consistent as well as a sincere approach to his coaching style – Frank Reynolds. Frank Reynolds is a Canadian Level 4 high-performance coach, middle and long distances, working with elite athletes as well as coaching high school athletes with the North Westers Track and Field Club.

Last week in point one, I said that it was important to ‘know yourself’ building upon this critical need for self-awareness you need to consider the collective culture you need to build.

2.  Know what culture you want to build?

What culture do you as a coach want to create and sustain?

The culture of an organisation comprises the companies/teams’ values, passions, priorities and moral fibre. Dictionary.com defines culture as: (a) totality of socially transmitted behaviour patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought (b.) These patterns, traits, and products considered as the expression of a particular period, class, community, or population: Edwardian culture; Japanese culture; the culture of poverty. Usage Note: The application of the term “culture” to the collective attitudes and behaviour of  teams and corporations arose in jargon during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Unlike many locutions that emerge in business jargon, it spread to popular use in newspapers and magazines. It was facilitated by increased awareness of the importance of genuine cultural differences in a global economy, as between Americans and the Japanese, that have a broad effect on business practices.

These questions will help clarify what type of culture you want to build:

  • What is the vision you have for your team? Do you want to write that vision alone or do you want other major stakeholders to participate in clarifying the dream?
  • What are your goals for this season? How are you going to communicate them?
  • What do you want your team to value?
  • How would you describe success?
  • Do you want to take risks or play it safe?
  • Where is the balance between the individual and the team?
  • How do you want communication to take place between you and the team and how would you like players to communicate with one another?
  • How are you going to discipline players?
  • What type of relationship do you as the coach want to have with: your assistant coaches, owners, the press, sponsors, players and fans?
  • Do you believe that leadership is a monologue or a dialogue? Are you going to create and clarify different channels of communication so that you can get objective feedback?
  • How long till the next big race, competition or match? Are you building up to one big event or do results in between also matter a lot to all your stakeholders?
  • Do you want to create an environment in which players can experiment and take risks?
  • Expectations: How often are you going to train? What fitness levels and skill levels do you expect your players to have? Do you expect players to train outside of team sessions? Are players expected to adjust their diet and sleep routines?
  • What type of relationship do you want to enjoy with your captain, senior players and new recruits?
  • How are you going to evaluate a player’s performance?
  • How are you going to reward achievement?
  • Are there existing rituals and traditions that you need to uphold, or do you need to establish some new ones?
  • What are you going to celebrate: work ethic, mastery of skills, courage, innovation, adaptability and sportsmanship?
  • How are you going to have ‘downtime’ and fun as a team?