The panel featured Fabian Cowdrey, Dr. Jamie Barker from the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, and Mark Boyns from OpeningUp.
It was a thought-provoking evening, so much so that it has taken me a while to process everything (and to catch up on some follow-up reading).
My headline learnings on the evening time included:
- the dangers inherent in the modern belief that the only route to success is via obsession — “the harder I practice, the ‘luckier’ I get”…but finding a balance between obsessive practice and “civilian” life might seem the healthier option;
- the impact of irrational beliefs on mental well-being — Jamie told the story of a cricketer who fervently believed that he should score 100s whenever he batted, and became extremely upset when dismissed in the 90s;
- ultimately, the need to trust yourself, and find what works for you.
Fabian shared personal insights from his own experience of professional cricket.
Honest and brave. And, happily, finding a way forward.
On the subject of managing beliefs, Jamie pointed me to a book he co-authored, Tipping the Balance — a really interesting read, with lots of very practical advice on ways to tip the (psychological) balance in favour of enhanced performance.
I was particularly taken with the line “…tipping the balance is about enhancing your self-confidence and control, and ensuring you are always focused on what can be achieved instead of what could be lost.”
The book is about developing and enhancing these “resources” (self-confidence, self-control, focus on what can be achieved) to allow the athlete to move from a ‘threat’ state (where demands are greater than resources; “not sure I can cope with this”) towards the ‘challenge’ state (“this is difficult, but I can face it”).
Now, this rings true in so many different contexts, not only sporting.
I only very rarely work with players in the “development” or “performance” space, but I can see ways of drip-feeding the underlying philosophy of the book into my regular work, especially with younger players.