In a recent post on All-Black culture, I discussed some of the value systems that have been put in place. The All-Black culture puts the needs of the team above that of all individuals. The challenge is for each individual to leave the jersey in a better place than they found it – to add value to it.
Upon their return from a bad beating by South Africa in 2004 at a time when they struggled to fulfill their potential, the team management along with performance psychologist Gilbert Enoka, captain Tana Umaga and vice-captain Richie McCaw went about changing the pervading culture over a 3 day conclave - the result being a transference of positive leadership from the coaches to the players.
Everybody has anxiety! We just all experience different levels of it with some people more pre-disposed to it than others. It is a topic we hear a lot about recently - especially with the spread of Covid 19 - a potentially killer virus. And that is the key point - potentially. Of those who get it, the current stats show that 98.3% will survive no problem - and those that do die will have significant underlying health issues and will be primarily in old age. But just because you are old or have health issues does not mean you are going to die. Fear not! You can take actions to ensure that you don't get it and that you don't pass it on by following government guidelines.
This is what we have too often.
This is why the pros played as kids!
Evidence based report's suggest that about 25% of people in Britain (NHS 2008) and Ireland (OECD 2010) are obese with levels of growth estimated at about 1% per annum. It indicates a drastic rise from 1993 levels, when just 13 per cent of men and 16 per cent of women reported to be obese. Scarily, huge volumes of 4-5 year old children (24.5%) in Britain (NHS) reported to be obese in 2008. This does not account for the massive population of children that are just overweight, not yet obese but will be by the time they reach adulthood. If the growth rate continues at the present pace, over 50% of people in these countries will be obese by 2050.
Sharon was recently overlooked for promotion in her job after 20 years service. During that time she had taken on numerous extra responsibilities, from voluntary to leadership roles, in a company that is widely regarded among its staff, to be a toxic work environment. When a new employee with limited experience joined the company and was offered promotion after a very short spell, there was a strong sense of revolt among the staff. While the new employee was very nice and obliging, the sense of injustice among the staff towards Sharon was palpable. The new employee had been promoted after developing a strong personal relationship with one of the VPs and had other links within the company. For Sharon, this was the last straw and she felt she had to resign. It was hard for her to leave the company she had shown such loyalty to, but the minute she left, she felt a huge weight lifted off her shoulders. The company recruitment process was rotten from top to bottom.
Poor mental health is a huge issue among young people across Ireland and at the extreme end of this continuum; we continue to lose too many young people to suicide on a weekly basis – often a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
While the problem of suicide is vast, this is the end point of a continuum that often begins with stress, anxiety and depression. In young people, these symptoms and presentations are increasing exponentially and this is something that should concern us all. In my opinion, it has reached epidemic proportions with huge proportions of young people feeling inadequate and indulging in self harm. The statistics will support my view.
In 1997, Earl Woods was there to greet his prodigal son when he finally fulfilled his dream to win the Augusta Masters. 22 years later and 14 years since his last, after much controversy in his personal life, a long hiatus from professional golf and four back operations when many thought he was past his best, he was there to win his 5th Masters - this time to be greeted by his son Charlie, daughter Sam and mother, Kultida. How the tide has turned.
Let The Kids Play
He stands there in his jersey,
fulfilling all his dreams,
Representing club and family,
and he is on the team.
The ball thrown in, the game is on,
there is movement all around,
some parents shouting frantically,
as the ball’s played up and down.
Many people set out with great aims of losing weight and improving their health from time to time – often for a wedding, graduation or some other life event. Many experience it annually after Christmas excesses. Gyms and weight loss clinics become inundated with client self-referrals as new enthusiastic and eager customers look to improve their health. There is very often a significant fall off in interest after a few weeks as those enthusiastic exercisers get caught up in other aspects of life and prioritise other things over their previously set exercise plans.
Manchester United sacked Jose Mourinho recently after two and a half years in charge. It was reported that senior figures at the club were unhappy with a lack of progress in form, style of play and development of their younger players. The club felt they had sufficiently backed Mourinho with £358.7million in the transfer market on 11 players during his time in charge and that they expected a greater measure of progress within that time-frame.
He was relieved after a poor performance against Liverpool, where Liverpool had 36 attempts at goal to United's 11. United lay mid-table with a goal difference of 0 almost halfway through the 2018/2019 Premier League campaign. The United players were believed to have wanted a change of manager as far back as September 18 and were said to have felt very restricted with the rigidity of team structure imposed on them by Mourinho.
Sport psychology is often used as a support within a high-performance sporting structure. As its benefits and merits are ever more recognised and respected, some amateur clubs are on the lookout for ways in which they can use such support – often in an ad-hoc capacity. With little knowledge or helpful information available, many are unsure where to go or who to look for to provide such a service.
In fairness, there is very little regulation of the area presently and it is a little bit of a minefield in finding someone that can add value to your team or organisation. This article is written in the context of an Irish sport psychology setting.
International rugby place kickers Jonny Sexton and Beauden Barrett place the ball, set themselves, say something to themselves and mostly go about their business and put the ball between the posts.
So what exactly should they be saying and why?
It is generally considered not politically correct to say that a child is fat. I am going to be controversial! Maybe we are doing them a disservice! Maybe we are failing to identify them as overweight and putting measures in place to address this health issue. Besides, the fact that they might be overweight is hardly their fault – more a byproduct of what they are given by their parents to eat. The kids don’t know any different but the parents should.
In what is considered to be one of the greatest acts of sporting humility, Sonny Bill Williams gave his winners medal to a young child after he was tackled by a steward when he ran onto the pitch to greet his heroes after the Rugby World Cup in 2015.
People all over the world were mesmerised by the act.
Everybody has anxiety! We just all experience different levels of it with some people more pre-disposed to it than others. It is a topic we hear a lot about recently - a mental health issue that often went undisclosed and unspoken of in times of yore.
Typically, anxiety can be categorised into 2 levels;
1. Trait Anxiety
2. State anxiety
We all have a natural level of anxiety. We call this our trait anxiety or the level of anxiety that we are normally predisposed to. This can vary between individuals with highly anxious individuals experiencing a high level trait anxiety.
Numerous accounts of high profile athlete's suffering from depression have surfaced in recent times. This openness and honesty is both refreshing and healthy as it normalises issues that affects the majority of families at some level in some shape or form. Previously, people suffered in silence, almost ashamed to reveal their reality to the people around them. Truth be told, it is extremely common, normal and most importantly, very treatable! Unfortunately, some still choose to keep their struggles to themselves due to a perceived stigma around mental health and some unfortunately take it to the next level - often a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
The nervousness started the night before the game. A former team-mate, with whom he shared a room in the early stages of his career, once called his attention to it. "He said he did everything he could to try to fall asleep before me. Before games, my right foot would twitch so hard that the entire duvet would rustle. It drove him crazy. I never noticed until he said it to me"
At the football World Cup 2018 in Russia, the president of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović flew to Russia economy class. She took a regular seat with her fans in the stadium at all of the matches bar the semi-final with England where she was busy at a NATO conference. At the final, she is spotted in the crowd with her people and invited to the VIP section. She is told she can't wear her jersey or nation's colours in this section. She wears them anyway - supporting her team all the way!
After the narrow loss, she is invited to the presentation podium with national leaders of both Russia and France. While other leaders stand under umbrellas, she greets her team and the opposition with pride in the spilling rain getting drowned wet! She embraces each player at the end, both winners and runners alike like long lost sons! Social media takes it viral! The people of Croatia are ultra proud!
As we know, obesity is an epidemic that will have far reaching implications for the health of our nation. The statistics are frightening. Studies have shown that obesity has quadrupled in last 30 years. In fact, of the 74 million school-aged children in EU, 21 million are overweight, with growth rates suggesting this is increasing by 1 million children every year.
How often have we seen golfers do erratic things at the most inopportune times? Ernie Els made a six-putt at the first hole in Augusta a few years ago. Such poor skill execution can often be seen in golf – known as “the yips”. This often occurs when golfers feel under pressure and anxious during performance.
Why was Alex Ferguson so successful?
So we recognise that Alex has been an inspirational leader in the football world for the past 30 years or more, winning numerous titles with Aberdeen and Manchester United. So many managers have come and gone in this time, many unsuccessful. So is there something that Ferguson happens to be good at? While he may not have realised the strength of its impact, his leadership had a direct impact on the reactions and performance levels of his players.
In 2007, the All-Blacks were set to win their first Rugby World Cup since the inaugural tournament in 1987. They led France 13 to 3 at half time in the quarter final. In the second half, it went a little pear shaped for them and they lost 20 18 in the process. Star player Anton Oliver likened the feeling afterwards to a death in the family. The expectation was so great, the result so damaging and hurtful. The players had choked due to the fear of failure – a crippling form of anxiety and performance stress brought on by huge expectation.
We are now looking looking at a situation in the western world where obesity is almost an epidemic. Reports suggest that over 35% of people in the USA (National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES)) in 2010. Reports also suggested that about 25% of people in Britain (NHS 2008) and Ireland (OECD 2010) are reported to be obese with levels of growth estimated at about 1% per annum. It indicates a drastic rise from 1993 levels, when just 13 per cent of men and 16 per cent of women reported to be obese.
Over time, we have seen how winning teams always seem to have a very positive team ethic and culture. While having a positive team culture doesn't necessarily guarantee success in the sense of winning silverware, it generally ensures that a team gets the most out of itself.
Very often, there is only a minimal difference in skill and or fitness levels between the top few teams in any given competition. As such, the differentiator between being successful and not is often influenced by the level of selfless work-rate that individual members of a team are prepared to take on during the course of a game.
Typically, this selfless work-ethic is directly influenced by the level of team cohesion among team-mates; and team cohesion and work ethic is directly influenced by team culture. As such, the culture that a team management sets around a team is critical to producing an environment where the players are willing to forego individual ego and work hard in the best interests of the group.
The story goes that the victorious Mayo team of 1951, while passing through Foxford during the All-Ireland celebrations, failed to pay due respects to a passing funeral. Enraged, a local priest cursed the county team, that while any member of the 1951 team lived, Mayo would never win another All-Ireland. It remains unbroken — despite the team reaching the Final on nine occasions since then. They have either completely collapsed on the day or been undone by a series of other unfortunate events. 66 years on, only two of that 1951 team remain.
Performance psychologist - accredited with Irish Institute of Sport