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Posted 07/01/2021 in Category 1 by DAVID CHARLTON

5 Reasons Team Captains Should Work with a Sports Psychologist

Leadership support is vital for captains to perform optimally

In 2002, I began a new role as a Business Travel Consultant after working in a variety of customer focused and supervisory roles in the travel industry. Within 9 months I was promoted to Branch Manager, I was ecstatic at the opportunity. The position meant my responsibilities were hugely different. It was a bold move from the company, I was the youngest and least experienced member in the team and I had no formal managerial or leadership training or experience.

Sink or Swim Time

To say my first month was interesting would be an understatement. I began with a team on its knees, badly affected by a recent power struggle by old partners of the company and a recent takeover by our then new owners. I experienced resignations, hired new members of staff, inducted and trained them to understand our computer systems and company procedures. As well, I somehow managed to find the time to assist in servicing clients, manage the existing team and take care of financial matters.

Thankfully, the 7 day working weeks, my stress levels, sleepless nights and that sickly feeling of dread I had in the pit of my stomach, every morning eased after the initial tidal waves, and I began to get my feet under the table making strategic decisions about our future direction and how my time would be spent effectively. I went on to experience and over see another take over, an office move, many changes in personnel, IT systems, an office closure and much more….

Support is Hugely Powerful

Now nearly 20 years on – I feel old writing this! – a similar and frequent pattern I see in my work in sport is that many captains, are given that role based on their competence in their previous role as I was, but they don’t possess good leadership skills when they commence the job. As a result, some swim, thankfully I did but unfortunately others sink. Cricket is a great example, when you look at the recruitment of England captains in the past, when they’ve designated that role to arguably the team’s best player in Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pieterson and now it could be argued they were errors of judgement from the management and selectors.

A number of years on, after being on the receiving end of business coaching from a range of knowledgeable and well respected people to improve my business, having counselling to deal with the loss of my late wife Alex after she sadly died in 2008 and also receiving supervision to develop my skills as a Sport and Exercise Psychologist I fully get the positive impact well educated professionals can have.

In addition, on top of my personal experiences, I have supported many captains in sporting situations and newly promoted managers and executives in corporate settings as a Sport and Exercise Psychologist or as a Mental Toughness Coach so I feel that I’ve a well rounded understanding of what works and what doesn’t for different individuals. 

As you’ll be aware from reading previous blogs I’m an advocate of trying to measure progress where possible to aid the understanding, confidence and motivation of the client. The psychometric and profiling tools I like to use are the MTQPlus or MTQ48 and the i3 profiling leadership scale, both are very simple to understand and with specialist feedback can be a very positive experience helping give people a boost very quickly so that they can play to their strengths.

Coaching, counselling, leadership or psychological support, whatever way you frame it has certainly helped many of my sporting and business clients and would have been great for me, in many different ways, back in those travel management days. It is likely those 7 day weeks would have been reduced, more time would have been spent with family and friends or on the golf course, and I wouldn’t have experienced that horrible feeling in my stomach.

For you I could list many advantages of engaging in the process with a Sports Psychologist however I’ll keep it brief as my fingers would get worn out!

5 Benefits of Sports Psychology Coaching

  1. Optimises your efficiency
  2. Improves your health and well-being
  3. Improve your self-awareness so under pressure you can adapt your approach quickly.
  4. See alternative methods, reduces black or white thinking.
  5. Gives you the opportunity to offload, open up in a 100% trusting and confidential way.

If you’d like to learn more about how I could help you as a captain or a team-mate who has captaincy qualities why not get in touch.

Or if you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends, team-mates, parents or coaches. 

You can also join our online community – THE SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY HUB – for regular Sports Psychology tips, podcasts, motivation and support.


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