When was the last time you changed your mind?

Is changing your mind a negative thing?


When was the last time you changed your mind?

I’m not talking about what you wanted for breakfast, or what TV show you wanted to watch. I mean when was the last time you changed your perspective on a topic?

One thing I’ve realised recently is that I’ve changed my mind on a few things related to coaching. While some might view this as “inconsistent” or “flip-flopping”, I view this as a positive indicator of my growth and progression as a coach. When I was a fresh, know-it-all graduate, I was a fierce advocate of deep squats and Olympic lifting. Since then I’ve softened on my perspective on both of these topics. If the athlete isn’t going to be the next world-class weightlifter, is it really imperative that they squat ass to grass? After all, isn’t the desired outcome simply stronger legs? And witnessing the layoff a rugby player had after fracturing a scaphoid performing a clean (prior to me coaching him!) has made me question the risk-reward ratio of Olympic lifting in this context.

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Why do I think this is good to have changed my opinions? Here’s a couple of reasons:

  1. Overcoming Confirmation bias.

The oxford dictionary defines confirmation bias as “The tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.” In the scenario of coaching, this might be a bias towards certain coaching philosophies, methods or drills being superior. The idea being that you cherry-pick evidence to suit your bias. The fact that my mind has been open to consider that I may have been wrong on a topic, suggests that I’ve managed to overcome confirmation bias to some degree. This is  key factor in being an effective coach – to use the best methods available, not the ones that fit in with your pre-conceived bias.

2. Assimilating Experience

Clearly, I’ve assimilated some of the experiences I’ve had to cause me to question what is the optimal approach. Rather than relying on the idealism of “theory”, I’ve dealt with real-world situations that require greater levels of adaptability and problem-solving. This has expanded my thought process and skillset, rather than staying within my limited philosophical utopia. A great quote I heard on this topic was “Have you had 20 years of experience, or the same year of experience 20 times?”. Are you actually learning or just repeating the same errors?

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3. Leaving Comfort Zones

When you realise that you may have been incorrect on a topic, or it isn’t appropriate in a particular context, this pushes you out of your comfort zone. In the internet age, there are plenty of keyboard warriors, in their ivory towers, spouting their black and white opinions based on possibly little to no experience in your particular context. It’s comfortable to be in the right and to inform everyone else they are incorrect. However, it’s uncomfortable to think “What now?”. Or to admit to an athlete or coach that you simply don’t know the answer. But that discomfort forces you to go away and research and learn some alternative methods you may not have previously considered.

4. Growth

In my opinion, you are either growing or your dying, either moving forward or backward. If you aren’t constantly learning as a coach, you are slowly becoming obsolete. As such, we should be asking ourselves questions, reflecting on our practice regularly and pondering how we can improve our technical knowledge, communication, organisation or interpersonal relationships.

So, once again, I’ll ask you the question, “When was the last time you changed your mind?” If you aren’t sure, maybe it’s time to start asking some difficult questions!

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4 principles for planning progression…

Progressive overload is one of the key principles of strength and conditioning programmes..

Recently, I was contacted by another strength and conditioning coach specializing in youth athletes – Stephen Walsh. We then entered into a very useful discussion regarding when and how to progress individual exercises within S&C programs for young athletes. I thought this scenario is probably not isolated to only the two of us and may warrant further discussion!
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11 Rings – March Book Review

Phil Jackson was a highly sought after coach in his NBA career. Coach of the globally renowned Chicago Bulls during the Michael Jordan era

When you get the opportunity to read directly from one of the greatest coaches in NBA history…it’s probably a good idea to get stuck in!

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The obstacle is the way – November Book Review

I found this book hugely beneficial – so much so I read it twice!

November’s book has been one that popped up on my radar several times before I committed to reading it. I have to say I wish I read it earlier. After recommending it to a friend of mine he said, “Rob, I’m going to put it out there, Obstacle is the way is one of the best books I’ve ever read.” I have to say I probably agree…

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Ask the Expert – Andy Woodward (Barnard Castle School)

Andy is the Strength and Conditioning Coach at Barnard Castle School and PEP Sports weeks performance sports camps, as well as the Throws and Speed Coach at Darlington Harriers Athletics Club.

Give us a bit of background on yourself… (sporting career, qualifications, coaching experience).

Main sports were Track and Field, Rugby Union and Volleyball.  Represented Royal Air Force on the track in both the 100m and 200m in the 1990’s.  I hold a BA(Hons) in Sports Studies and PE from York St John Uni and an MSc in S&C from Teesside Uni.  I am a UK Atheltics Level 3 Performance Coach in Throws and Level 2 Speed and Jumps.
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Ask the Expert: Johnny Harris-Wright (Bristol Rugby)

  1. Give us a bit of background on yourself… (sporting career, qualifications, coaching experience)

I have played rugby most of my life and was lucky enough to play representative rugby in New Zealand and in Ireland at school boy and college level for my home province of Leinster. My most relevant qualifications would be my Undergraduate Degree in Strength and Conditioning and I am about to complete a Masters Degree in Sport Rehabilitation. I also have other qualifications such as diplomas in Sports Nutrition and Sports Therapy.
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Ditch the running! How to make your players fit without them realizing!

How to get your teamsport athletes fitter, without running!

This post is one of our most popular on the site, receiving over 1000 views in it’s first week of release…

It’s that time of the year in the UK when team sports like football, rugby, hockey and others will return to pre-season training. Often this means a lot of running to get players fit for the upcoming season… not something the players themselves are always engaged in. But could there be a better way? Is it possible to get your players engaged and fitter without them realizing? The answer is yes…
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