Jan 21, 2021

Reframing 2020 for our Matrics

Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

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.

Dear Matrics

2020, has been a totally insane year! We will remember it for the rest of our lives. On the sporting front, it has been a year of huge setbacks. Some of you might have only played one game for the first team that you dreamt of playing for since the start of high school. You will remember 2020 for Covid, however you didn’t create the memories of the titanic battles fought on the pitch, and the special moments made on sports tours. You didn’t have the chance to have your results read out to the whole school and receive the accolades up for grabs: school colours, provincial colours, SA Schools honours. What a bummer!

But it all lost – NO!!!!

If properly debriefed and reframed, 2020 can be a year that shapes the rest of your years, not because of Covid but the attitude you acquired and the mental skills of debriefing and reframing that you began to master.

Life is full of setbacks! How will you use those setbacks to acquire a greater knowledge of who you are as a person and to unearth the incredible tools at our disposal, be resilient?

In the next few columns/blogs I will come alongside you, as a Human Performance coach to help you come out of 2020 with a treasure chest of life skills.

Discovering my why? Why do I play sport?

Sport psychologists have devoted a lot of time to try and figure out what motivates various athletes and how motivation could be measured and enhanced. A good starting questions to ask yourself is “why do you play sport?” Take a minute to list some of the reasons you play sport.

Most people participate for the recreational pleasure, to get fit and make friends. Only a minute percentage of sportsmen are elite. So chill, find out why you play and ask yourself what level you enjoy playing at. It is important that you feel comfortable in your own skin. Some people feel at home in a first team netball or rugby team and others can’t stand the pressure and are more academically inclined. They love getting outdoors for a hike or to ride their mountain bike in some rejuvenating environment that is good for the body and soul.

This diagram can help you find some of the puzzle pieces to your motivation:

Ego – you can have a clean ego or an unclean ego.  

Ego is important, it might motivate you to get your blackbelt in karate but is can also get tainted like in the case of Lance Armstrong and take you down a path of self-deception where you dope to win competitions or to look better on social media when you take a pic of your six-pack. Is your ego clean, do you love competing and are you free of toxic motivation? An example of toxic motivation is that you don’t even care that your high tackle in rugby nearly broke someone’s neck. A clean ego could see you want to attend a really top sports school or apply for a bursary in the USA to advance your swimming, tennis or golf career. 

Mastery – You are inspired to master a skill.  

It could be being an ace on your skateboard, playing the guitar, writing computer code or the pleasure you take out of perfecting a gymnastics or springboard diving routine or working in synergy as a team of synchronised swimmers. Many of us are spurred on to master a task as it is really cool to master a skill and forms an integral part of our self-esteem.

Social Approval – it is important to belong socially, to know who your friends and tribe are.

However, there are a lot of unhealthy components in our school systems and various sub-cultures, like ‘Jock culture’ where adolescent men think they are the ‘main manne’ and discriminate against those not like them. A lot of these men need to open their eyes to see the trappings of toxic masculinity where you always have to act tough and treat girls as a sexual object. Some of us play sport to be accepted and  to earn our parents love and to feel like we are part of the ‘in-group’.

Success also makes us look cool on social media, but be warned, there are trappings to these patterns of existence. It’s important to find out what motivates you, and then to keep the motivation flowing its essential that you build and celebrate success whether big or small. Success in itself is a process of many small steps, and each victory must be identified and celebrated.

So take time to consider your why? Why do you play sport? After matric do you still want to invest the hours of training to play rugby, netball or hockey at a highly competitive level? Or does the thought of exploring new things excite you. If you go to university, there will be many societies and clubs that you can join: rock climbing, hiking, photography, journalism, rugby, hockey, basketball, running. Your appetite for sport and exercise might be quenched in one of these amazing activities.

What stirs your passion, where do you feel most alive? In the next few months ask yourself why you play sport. It is a courageous question to ask yourself, but when you know the answer it can be truly liberating. Do I want to get out into the outdoors, try CrossFit or am I laser focused on becoming a Springbok?

Next week, more about reframing and the process of grieving what we have lost.