In a compelling discussion, Steve, Jamie Pringle, and Rosie Mayes share their firsthand experiences and lessons from working closely with elite athletes. They dissect the dynamics of working in high-performance settings and discuss the nuances of engaging with top-tier talent in sports.
From understanding the culture and environment that elite athletes operate in, to being aware of the pressures and challenges they face, the conversation provides a nuanced view of what it takes to contribute meaningfully to an athlete’s journey. The discussion covered several key aspects:
Initial Engagement: The importance of understanding the unique culture and environment in which an athlete operates and adapting one’s skill set to match that.
Role Clarity: The conversation underscored the necessity of clearly defining roles for everyone involved, from coaches to support staff and the athletes themselves. Knowing your role helps to focus efforts and manage expectations.
Relationship Building: Highlighting that performance-based relationships can sometimes be transactional in nature, the conversation emphasized the need to avoid falling into the trap of seeking validation. It’s not about the support staff; it’s about the athlete.
Cultural Intelligence: An interesting concept where one learns to pick up cues and clues from the environment, applying them to forge stronger relationships and perform better in the role.
Handling Pressure: They discussed how behaviors, actions, and bonds between team members can change under the intense pressure of competition. The closer the team gets to high-stakes moments, the greater the pressure, making team identity crucial.
Consistency is Key: Consistency in training correlates to consistency in performance. By maintaining a steady approach, one can better predict how they’ll perform when it matters most.
Trust and Individual Relationships: Building a strong one-on-one relationship with athletes was stressed as being invaluable. Emma Gardner’s quote, ‘Athletes don’t care what you know until they know that you care’, beautifully encapsulates this sentiment.
Overall, the conversation reinforced that while technical skills and knowledge are important, the ‘soft skills’ of understanding, empathy, and humility are invaluable when working with elite performers. The discussion provided a holistic look at the intricacies of working in high-performance sports, making it a must-listen for anyone in or aspiring to be in this field.
2:05 Exhibiting opportunities at the Supporting Champions Conference
4:00 What is it like to work with an elite athlete?
4:40 Understanding the culture and environment of sport
5:00 Applying your skill and experience to the high performance training environment
7:36 Step into the shoes of your athlete, see and experience what they do.
8:58 Working with high level performers, winning Olympic medals, but the hard work is completed day in day out on the track or pool
10:15 What if they are not interested in the science?
10:50 The world doesn’t revolve around you
11:00 Team sports have their own culture and identity
12:20 Cultural intelligence, what do you learn and how do you apply it?
14:20 Using humility and credibility in a high performance environment…it’s not about you!
18:36 Losing naivety, understanding your role, the athlete role and clarity of knowledge
20:30 Expecting less from a performance based relationship
21:20 Don’t fall into the trap of wanting to be valued!
25:50 Team identity and the pressure that increases the close to high performance moments
27:00 Recognising the pressure for others increasing when you might also be feeling an increase in pressure
28:00 Wanting a sense of team belonging and an amplification when under pressure
30:00 Searching for certainty in pressure situations
32:25 Consistency in training and consistency in performance is a good marker as how you will perform on the day
34:00 Get involved in the culture, atmosphere and connect with the individual. The relationships you build on a one to one basis and the development of trust is invaluable.
35:05 ‘Athletes don’t care what you know until they know that you care’ Emma Gardner