Coaching on the Court

Coaching on the Court

Incite has been fortunate to work with The Roy Group over the last two years. A major focus of this work has been on building a coaching approach into our operations and leadership development. This has been both valuable and challenging and for many of us it has opened our eyes to the benefits of a coaching philosophy.

One of the Principals of The Roy Group, Bradley Chisholm, recently lent me a book called “The Inner Game” by tennis coach Tim Gallwey. This book, though focused on playing tennis, forms the basis for much of The Roy Group’s coaching and leadership development philosophy. To distill it down, Gallwey’s view is that each individual is her/his own coach and supporters can help not with instruction but questions. This best allows someone to find internal answers they are more determined to use. Not only am I now excited to get back on the tennis court but it’s opened my eyes to two key things we can all use to develop our own performance.

Sense of feel:

  • Gallwey encourages his athletes to sense what a good shot feels like. Knowing what feels right allows us to adapt our performance to that sense and experience. This is more natural and replicable than trying to follow a script of corrections on how to hit a great forehand. We can own that feeling and directly apply it to our performance. By recognizing how we feel, both when things go well and they don’t, we can better understand what led us to that result and then repeat or make the necessary adjustments.

 

Forcing things vs letting them happen:

  • A mindset is engrained in us growing up that if we try really, really hard we can do anything. That said, in tennis Gallwey indicates that we’re tighter, less relaxed and unfairly self-critical when we do this. This limits the ability to hit a great shot. Letting things unfold is a useful strategy. That doesn’t mean passivity but means recognizing whether it’s the time to anticipate or react and what personal skill to use at that point. We can then approach situations more relaxed, confident, and with trust in our ability to adapt.

 

Because we’ve often been taught in a very prescriptive fashion and to push things to happen, adopting Gallwey’s approach can be difficult. His ideas build adaptability, awareness and versatility into our performance. It’s rare a situation ever occurs exactly the same way twice, so the ability to confidently adapt is crucial. Though your job may not be to face 200 km/h Milos Raonic serves, this coaching approach can open new ways to find answers to your most challenging situations.

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