006: David Fletcher on adversity

Supporting Champions Podcast #6 David Fletcher

In this episode I talk to David Fletcher about his career as a swimmer, researcher and expert in the area of adversity.

Show notes;

07:00 Early aspirations as a swimmer, but experiencing near misses as an athlete and academically
10:00 Transfer of desire from swim background to early success in studies
12:00 Father as a science role-model, searching and sharing academic papers
15:30 Importance of internship in sporting environment
19:00 Importance of breadth of experience beyond own area of specialism
23:30 Interest in the stresses that athletes experiences
25:00 Stresses changing based on growth of high performance system
28:00 Uncovering poor organisational behaviours that adversely influenced sporting performance
29:00 Seeking legal advice due to controversial nature of athlete interviews – sticking to your guns about unearthing and communicating stresses
31:00 Identifying stresses and how some used stressful experiences as fuel for determination
34:00 Organisational stresses – leadership styles, not being listened to, overuse of pressure training and how it spilled over
35:00 How it is unethical not to prepare athletes for the pressure of top competitions
36:00 How leadership behaviours permeated down to grass-root levels
41:00 Adversity as a stimulus for growth – so it needs to be;

– Relevant, e.g. penalty shoot-out
– Progressively adaptable
– Agreed

44:00 Appropriate and inappropriate consequences to contravening agreed behaviours
47:00 Role of early adversity as a fuel for focusing on sporting goals
48:00 Theories emerging – life adversity coinciding with sporting success, and finding sport as a sanctuary
50:00 Caveat that sport doesn’t protect person from mental health response to adversarial events
51:30 How best to support when people experience adversity; 1) give them space; 2) supporting people when they are ready to disclose – provide inspirational opportunities; 3) when a vase breaks consider creating a new mosaic rather than re-building as it was
57:00 Adversity gives you honesty to review deeply
59:00 Different personality traits required to succeed in sport vs life
60:00 Re-emergence of ‘issues’ wen sport is not there
61:00 Are we doing enough to support coaches?
64:00 Lessons for everybody
– Anything worthwhile will have its challenges
– Importance of anticipating stresses and preparing for them
– Importance of support network
– Importance of disclosing and being open to sharing stress response
67:00 Future directions in area of adversity

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