Team Talks
A team talk is a verbal dialogue that a coach/manager will give to his team/player prior to a game. This will involve tactics but also be an opportunity to emotionally charge players. Motivating players and getting them ‘Mentally ready’ is a normal process a manager or captain may use prior to competition.
A team talk mid-way through a game is also a really important opportunity to change the attitude and mind-set of players. Some players react positively to receiving detailed instructions given in quiet and controlled manner, whereas others react better to managers who shout and show more emotion.
Intrinsic Motivation. This is motivation from within. A desire to perform well and succeed.
The following will apply:
  • Desire to overcome the problem or task
  • Development of skills and habits to overcome that problem
  • Rehearsal of successful habits until they are perfect
  • A feeling of pride and enjoyment in performing the skill
  • Repeated goal setting in order to progress and maintain motivation.
The following points within a technique improvement programme can help with intrinsic motivation:
  1. Improvements in specific sub-routines within a technique after completion of a movement analysis sheet
  2. Improvement in technique outcome after completion of a scatter diagram
  3. Progress through the stages of learning
  4. Winning more points within matches
  5. Winning more games
  6. Beating opponents you haven’t previously beaten
  7. Moving up a league table

Extrinsic Motivation. This comes from a source outside of the performer. These are things which can encourage the athlete to perform and fall into two groups:
  1. Tangible rewards: Physical rewards such as medals and money. These should be used sparingly with young athletes to avoid a situation where winning a prize is more important than competing well
  2. Intangible rewards: Praise, recognition and achievements. These should be used on a regular basis to encourage the athlete to repeat the behaviour which earned the praise.

Self Talk (The 3 R’s)
The 3 R’s for composure help to maintain composure after making a mistake or error. The 3 R’s for composure stand for: Recognise–Regroup–Refocus.
The first step is to:
  • Recognize that you are dwelling on the mistake, which limits your ability focus on the next phase of play and identify your mental error.
  • Regroup by interrupting the chain of thought. This requires you to battle your own emotions and dispute your irrational thinking, using coping strategies such as positive self talk.
  • Refocusis then crucial for the next phase of play. Ask yourself what you need to focus on right now to do your best on the next play? The answer will help you refocus on the task-relevant cues for the next play.
Exemplar Task
1) Pick a playing partner and play a 5 minute game. Be aware of any times where you become frustrated or angry. Note the score.
2) Reflect on your game by answering the following questions:
a) How many times did you feel you were getting frustrated during the game?
b) Which of the 5 mental errors contributed to your frustration?
c) Is this really something for you to get frustrated about?
d) Can you think of a positive thought/statement/word that could help you overcome this issue?
e) How will you apply this thought/statement/word to your next game?
3) Replay the same playing partner for 5 minutes.

4) Evaluate the game and reflect on the game by answering the following questions:
a) Was there a change in score?
b) How many times did you feel frustrated?
c) Did your positive thought/statement/word help you keep composed during the game?
d) How do you feel you performed in the game in the second game compared with the first?

Creative Input

As an approach Creative Input can be used to address a number of Factors (features) Impacting on Performance. Creative Input will primarily come from an external source and will allow a performer to address common features across the Emotional factor such as, confidence and decision making.
Over the course of a training programme Creative Input could work in isolation but would probably work best along side Fitness/ Skills/ Tactics programme within Physical.
For example, a dancer or gymnast may have identified that their routine was lacking accurate execution of individual skills and linking movements. Their teacher or coach also commented that their performance needed more confidence to make it stand out. As a result, the pupils carries out a skill development approach linked to creative input.
'...I developed a 6/8 week training programme using repetition practices to improve the quality of my skill repertoire and creative input to address my lack of confidence brought on by fear of performing. Each week, as well developing my individual skills through .... I used a variety of creative inputs teacher (an experienced dancer/ gymnast), model performers from my class, YouTube clips of international competitors, DVDs, listening to music to accompany my routine and exploring different themes to link my performance to... before every training session I took time to... Watch/ listen to (insert creative input)... in order for me to practice with a sense of excitement and positive thoughts in my mind...'

A games player involved in an objective sport could also find a feature from the emotional factor is impacting on their performance. Again, a creative input approach could work on it's own or underpin a fitness/ skill/ tactic programme of work.
For example, a basketball player has identified that their passing lacks power. An Emotional questionnaire (MESP Data) test also highlighted a negative (sad) state of mind. As a result he/ she carries out a fitness development approach linked to creative input.

' 6/8 week programme of work was set up to to include a circuit training approach to develop power and creative input to address my pessimistic state of mind. Prior to every circuit training session ...I watched clips from the NBA' s best plays... This allowed me to see how... creative top players passing can be... confident they are in their general play... they never give up under challenging conditions... Being in a positive state of mind before my game related circuit training gave me self belief and optimism...
Creativity can be broken down in two more ways, firstly through the following model:
  • Skill: To perform the creative thought
  • Spatial Awareness: To understand the space required to produce the skill
  • Sensing: The ability to see and feel what is going on
  • Social Awareness: To understand whether the others around need to be involved or not
  • Self-awareness: To understand own personality, strengths, weaknesses and behaviours

Then secondly using an American system that categorises creative players into three groups:
  • Building Players: This type of player will have good spatial awareness and recognise the space in which a team can make progress.
  • Organising Players: This type of player will help others perform at their best. They will have enhanced personal and social awareness, and understand how others play, how fast they move and where they like to receive the ball.
  • Soloing Players: This is probably the old model of creativity – players who have a spark of genius and produce something all on their own.

The Role of the Coach
Well known training methods have been proven to allow athletes to develop their performance. Adapting training methods using creativity can help you improve our development needs and can have a positive impact on performance. Also, making training specific. The coach who is seeking to work in a creative environment with both players and coaches and seeking new ways of approaching challenges will need to tap into many facets of the ‘C’ system. Players connected with coaches and each other and playing with confidence will happily experiment appropriately and build up a level of skill to allow them to be creative. A key role for the coach is to create an environment where players feel comfortable when trying new challenges, thinking differently and being innovative.

The diagram above shows a game that is typically used in Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU) (Thorpe and Bunker, 1982). It is a game called the wing game in which players are encouraged to use the whole width of the pitch, and when in the wing channel, they can be unopposed. Imagine you were Teaching Games for Creativity (TGFC), rather than Understanding. Looking at the types of player you are trying to encourage, this would make a great practice for the weakness finders and threshold breakers, encouraging them to use the wings and find different ways of getting the ball into the middle. With some adaptation, space could be created in the middle of the pitch for the play designers and directors to try to build play and draw others in constructively.
The structure of TGfU lends itself to developing creative players. With a small change of emphasis and thinking of different types of creative players, TGFC is within the reach of every coach.

Conflict Management Techniques

Competing - is assertive and uncooperative. An individual pursues his or her own concerns at the other person's expense. This is a power-oriented mode where the person uses whatever power seems appropriate to win their own position.
When to use Competition:
  • When you know you are right.
  • When you need a quick decision.
  • When you meet a steamroller type of person and you need to stand up for your own rights.
Accommodating-is unassertive and uncooperative. This is the opposite of competing. When accommodating, an individual neglects his/her own concerns to satisfy the concerns of the other person. There is an element of self-sacrifice in this mode.
When to use accommodating:
1. When the issue is not so important to you but it is to the other person.
2. When you discover that you are wrong.
3. When continued competition would be detrimental - "you know you can't win."
4. When preserving harmony without disruption is the most important - "it's not the right time."

Avoiding - is unassertive and cooperative. When a person does not pursue her/his own concerns or those of the other person. He/she does not address the conflict, but rather sidesteps, postpones or simply withdraws.
When to use avoiding:
1. When the stakes aren't that high and you don't have anything to lose - "when the issue is trivial."
2. When you don't have time to deal with it.
3. When the context isn't suitable - "it isn't the right time or place."
4. When more important issues are pressing.
5. When you would have to deal with an angry, hot headed person.
6. When you are totally unprepared, taken by surprise, and you need time to think and collect information.

Collaborating - is both assertive and cooperative. This is the opposite of avoiding. Collaboration involves an attempt to work with the other person to find some solution that fully satisfies the concerns of both persons. It includes identifying the underlying concerns of the two individuals and finding an alternative that meets both sets of concerns.
When to use collaboration:
1. When other's lives are involved.
2. When you don't want to have full responsibility.
3. When there is a high level of trust.
4. When you want to gain commitment from others.
5. When you need to work through hard feelings, animosity, etc.

Compromising - is intermediate in both assertiveness and cooperativeness. The objective of compromise is to find some practical, mutually acceptable solution that partially satisfies both parties. It falls in the middle group between competing and accommodating. Compromise gives up more than competing, but is less than accommodating.
When to use compromise:
1. When the goals are moderately important and not worth the use of more assertive modes.
2. When people of equal status are equally committed.
3. To reach temporary settlement on complex issues.
4. To reach expedient solutions on important issues.
When may conflict occur during sport?
  • When playing games e.g. opponents, player-player, player-coach.
  • Team talks
  • Accepting Referee/Umpire decisions.
  • Foul Play
  • External Influences e.g. crowd
Assertiveness Training
The term 'assertiveness' is often misunderstood. Consequently, to understand the concept and purpose of assertiveness training, it is important to understand what assertiveness is not.
If well-taught, assertiveness training can help the performer recognise when they are being abused or manoeuvred for someone else's benefit, and how to resist such treatment effectively without becoming angry and aggressive.

Assertive Techniques
Assertiveness training involves the learning of skills and techniques for resisting manipulation and coping with criticism. Three of the key assertive techniques are Broken Record, Fogging and Negative Assertion.
Broken Record
Broken record derives its name from the days before CDs or MP3's when vinyl was the dominant medium for audio reproduction. A faulty or dirty vinyl disc might 'stick' and repeat the same short snatch of music over and over again until the stylus was lifted from it. In the broken record technique, a request is repeated over and over again until the desired response is obtained or a workable compromise is reached. Attempts at distraction or changing the subject are resisted.

Sporting example:
When training for any sport an athlete may make up excuses to avoid training or a certain part of training. For example, an athlete may pretend they have an injury or they cannot attend training as they cannot get to the training venue. Here the athlete would be avoiding training and the coach’s job is to persuade the athlete they need to train in order to improve. The coach would use the broken record technique to continually remind the athlete of the benefits of training and would not give up reminding the athlete of such benefits until the desired response occurs.
Fogging involves training yourself to stay calm in the face of criticism, and agreeing with whatever may be fair and useful in it. By refusing to be provoked and upset by criticism, you remove its destructive power. Why, after all, should you crave someone else's complete approval, when doing so gives them power over you?
The point of fogging is that it robs your critic's words of their destructive power. By refusing to become upset or angry in the face of criticism, you're denying your critic the satisfaction of seeing you being intimidated and disempowered. If they're just trying to bully you, and their words don't overpower you, there's a good chance that they'll turn their attentions to someone else who's easier to intimidate.
Phrases typically used when fogging include: 'That could be true', 'You're probably right'. 'Sometimes I think so myself', 'I agree', 'That's true', 'You're right' and 'You have a point there.' A phrase that is never used when fogging, but is constantly implied, is: 'So what?'

Sporting example:

A badminton opponent may say you are playing rubbish and you will never win the game. Using the assertive training technique, “Fogging” you may reply and say, “You are right I am not playing my best game”. Therefore, you would not let your opponents comments distract you but instead just agree with them.

Negative Assertion
But what if the person who's complaining has valid, specific points to make about how you can improve? Well, then you can use negative assertion. This simply means agreeing with those parts of the criticism that are valid, but without allowing yourself to become consumed by guilt and self-loathing.
Sporting example:
So if they tell you that you're not traininghard enough and you're not, admit it. Just say 'Yes, you're right. I need to put in more effort in training' - or words to that effect. Then change your behaviour if you want to, or don't change if you don't want to - but either way, don't beat yourself up just because you've been criticised.
Another form of negative assertion is simply owning up to your mistakes before anyone's even taken you to task for them: for instance, by turning up late at the game and simply saying 'Hi, sorry I'm late'. In that situation, you are acknowledging that there's a problem and accepting responsibility for the situation, which should count in your favour with any coaches or team mates who are annoyed with you. An example of this kind of negative assertion would be the performer who goes to the coach or captain to admit that they made a mistake in their performance before anyone else had spotted it.

Trust Games
Trust games are all linked to promoting and establishing the positive social health of the group or between individuals within a group. They are beneficial both for the individual and for the group as a whole. They are frequently used in situations where members will need to rely on everyone's full cooperation (drama, sport) because they address support behaviour.
Trust games require experienced facilitators or leaders, but they are also fun to play, because they are more physical. The movement and outcomes will ease tension and they are therefore helpful in enhancing group development.

Intro / plenary points
  • How do we develop trust within the group? Encourage / praise / build confidence / make task easier, more achievable gradually get more difficult / earn trust of others / if you are trustworthy others will trust you.
  • Trust- where might we need it in sport? Lineout lifting in rugby/ calling in cricket for run.

Blind Tunnel
One person runs as fast as possible with eyes closed between two lines of people and is stopped at the end by two or three people who form a soft bumper (this game requires a lot of trust).
Blindfold a partner, and guide them around the hall. Let them learn to trust you (which they will do, unless you make them walk into things)! Then swap over, and be the blindfolded person.
Trust Falls
In pairs: number 1 falls back, number 2 catches. Number 1 shouts ready and keeps body tension. Number 2 stands with one foot in front of the other. Pairs start near and move further away to build trust. Number 1 closes eyes if confident.
Trust Falls 2
T” shape. Number 1 puts arms out to side making a “T” shape and number 2 catches partner under their arms. Extension: close eyes / increase Distance of fall.
Circle of Trust
One person goes in middle of a circle of 4-6 others. The circle all place their hands on the shoulders of the person in the middle. The person in the middle should keep body tension and then is gradually tipped in and out of balance to different parts of the circle, their feet remained fixed on one spot. Make sure there are no gaps in the circle and that the person is not shoved.
All Lean out
Pupils make circle holding hands with person next to them. They all lean out as far as possible, using each other’s body weight to balance. This can be done facing in first then facing out the circle.

All Sit Down
Pupils make a circle and the challenge is to sit on the knees of the person behind them. The circle should be complete. If the group are successful they can then all put their arms out to the side and balance entirely on each other.
Human Wheel
Pupils pair up and hold ankles of team mate, the idea is for them to perform a 2 person forward roll like a wheel. Pupils should use a mat with this activity and they should take trainers off.

Imagery (Mental Rehearsal, Visualisation)

All three terms, above, are used to refer to the regular and intensive mental practice of an action without physically performing it. When mental rehearsal of an action is combined with physical rehearsal this improves performance when compared to physical rehearsal by itself.
Athletes who speak of visualisation, mental rehearsal, imagery or mental practice are all referring to the process of creating an experience in the mind – of imagining something. Imagery can be used to experience many aspects of skill learning and sports performance.
“…apart from the physical practice, many more hours were spent mentally rehearsing the effort distribution, pace judgement, stride pattern and hurdling technique for a successful performance.”

How to Develop Imagery Skills

To develop imagery skills:
  • Decide what you want to mentally rehearse
  • Practice when you are relaxed, without distraction and not close to performance
  • Imagine performing the movement, concentrate on tension in the muscles, the sequence in which movements occur
  • Mental rehearsal should take as long as performing the action in real time
  • Imagine seeing yourself performing movements or routines successfully (external)

Mental Rehearsal Technique
Mental imagery involves the athlete imagining themselves in an environment performing a specific activity using all of their senses (sight, hear, feel and smell). The images should have the athlete performing successfully and feeling satisfied with their performance. When beginning Mental Rehearsal the athlete should use a skill they can already perform at an automatic level.
What can mental imagery be used for?
Mental Imagery can be used to:
  • Familiarise the athlete with a competition site, a race course, a complex play pattern or routine etc.
  • Motivate the athlete by recalling images of their goals for that session, or of success in a past competition or beating a competitor in competition
  • Perfect skills or skill sequences the athlete is learning or refining
  • Reduce negative thoughts by focusing on positive outcomes
  • Refocus the athlete when the need arises e.g. if performance is feeling sluggish, imagery of a previous best performance or previous best event focus can help get things back on track
  • See success where the athlete sees themselves performing skills correctly and the desired outcomes
  • Set the stage for performance with a complete mental run through of the key elements of their performance to set the athlete's desired pre-competition feelings and focus.
Mental imagery should not focus on the outcome but on the actions to achieve the desired outcome.

Reducing Anxiety
Treating the Body vs. the Mind

Competition can cause athletes to react both physically (somatic) and mentally (cognitive) in a manner which can negatively affect their performance abilities. Stress, arousal and anxiety are terms used to describe this condition.
The major problem in competition is letting your mind work against you rather than for you. You must accept anxiety symptoms as part and parcel of the competition experience; only then will anxiety begin to facilitate your performance.
Somatic anxiety is a name for the physical, as opposed to “cognitive” or "mental" manifestations of anxiety. People who react to anxiety mainly in a physical manner experience primarily somatic anxiety, whereas people who react to it mainly mentally experience primarily cognitive anxiety.

Symptoms of Cognitive anxiety: Indecision, Sense of confusion, Feeling heavy, Negative thoughts, Poor concentration, Irritability, Fear, Forgetfulness , Loss of confidence, Images of failure, Defeatist self-talk, Feeling rushed, Feeling weak, Constant dissatisfaction, Unable to take instructions, Thoughts of avoidance.

Symptoms of Somatic anxiety: Increased blood pressure, Pounding heart, Increased respiration rate, Sweating, Clammy hands and feet, Butterflies in the stomach, Adrenaline surge, Dry mouth, Need to urinate, Muscular tension, Tightness in neck and shoulders, Trembling, Incessant talking, Blushing, Pacing up and down, Distorted vision, Twitching, Yawning, Voice distortion, Nausea, Vomiting, Loss of appetite, Sleeplessness
How can you control Anxiety?
As we can see anxiety includes state and trait dimensions both of which can show themselves as cognitive and somatic symptoms. An athlete with high anxiety trait (A-trait) is likely to be more anxious in stressful situations. To help an athlete control competitive anxiety somatic techniques (__relaxation__) and cognitive techniques (__mental imagey__), deep breathing, meditation techniques, Yoga, health eating and sleeping habits can be used to reduce anxiety.
Breathing Techniques
This exercise can be performed while you are standing up, lying down or sitting upright. You should inhale slowly, deeply and evenly through your nose, and exhale gently through your mouth as though flickering, but not extinguishing, the flame of a candle:
•Take a deep breath and allow your face and neck to relax as you breathe out
• Take a second deep breath and allow your shoulders and arms to relax as you breathe out
• Take a third deep breathe and allow your chest, stomach and back to relax as you breathe out
•Take a fourth deep breath and allow your legs and feet to relax as you breathe out
• Take a fifth deep breath and allow your whole body to relax as you breathe out
• Continue to breathe deeply for as long as you need to, and each time you breathe out say the word 'relax' in your mind
Restorative Practice
Restorative practice can be used when a member of a team or squad has caused harm to a teammate through inappropriate, sometimes thoughtless, negative behavior. Both sides of the dispute need a chance to tell their side of the story and feel heard, understand better how the situation happened, understand how it can be avoided another time, feel understood by the others involved and find a way to move on and feel better about themselves. If conflicts and challenges are dealt with in a way that get these needs met then those involved can repair the damage done to their connections with the others involved, or even build connections where there were none previously. They feel fairly treated and respected, since they have been trusted to find solutions for themselves and put things right in their own way. Because they have been listened to, people in conflict are more ready to listen to others’ perspectives and emotional responses, and so empathy is developed. This can change the choices made in future situations, as mutual respect and consideration develop.
  • It can allow people to be honest and start afresh after the process
  • It allows both sides of the dispute to voice their opinions
  • It allows for the perspective of the other side to be understood
  • It can prevent a reoccurrence
  • It is not always guaranteed to produce a positive outcome
  • The emotions may be beyond the repair of restorative practice
  • If one side is not understanding, it could make the situation worse