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My weekends are taking on a new look as I settle into a role as Mental Skills & Leadership Coach with Newport Dragons. Anyone who knows me knows my huge passion for rugby, and so I’m absolutely delighted to be working with Dragons in this way.
The club is forward-thinking with real ambition to build something great in a realistic time frame. Joining them in this part-time role (which I do around one day a week so fits well with my day-job and other great passion – Leading Edge!) allows me to be hands-on in high performance sport and gain even more learnings and lessons for sharing with clients and colleagues.
I feel lucky to be in and around sport again. Remembering what it feels like to be part of a team in this context and being accountable for delivering against expectations as part of a highly experienced and dedicated coaching team is certainly getting the blood flowing!
A rugby player needs to develop his or her physical strength, tactical skills and mental skills – the mental ability to play the game. Most clubs have a number of coaches across the conditioning and tactical aspects, and developing the players’ mental skills will come alongside this and often from their personal experiences – it’s very progressive of Dragons to bring in someone specifically on mental skills. It puts a spotlight on what this pivotal part of high performance – resilience, handling pressure, the ability to learn from personal failure and the success of others – brings to a player’s game and how it can make or break a career.
Strong mental skills and leadership
Our focus at Dragons is to create an environment that enables all of us to be the best we can be. A big part of this is to develop great mental skills that are shown through self-awareness, self-regulation, decision-making and communication.
I’ll be supporting this focus across three areas:
Environment – inputting into the design of the club’s environment and how it needs to evolve to support the culture and to help Dragons players develop the behaviours to be the best they can be.
Supporting Coaches – helping to refine the coaching staff’s ability to develop mental skills in players alongside the awesome work they currently do on the physical and tactical aspects. Dragons have a quality coaching team who are also committed to their continued personal development (CPD) and I’m hoping to be able to add some value to their already considerable experience.
Supporting Player Leadership Group – as the ultimate team sport, rugby needs multiple leaders on the pitch who lead effectively as a group. I’ll work with this group of senior players and influencers on setting standards for the team and developing themselves to become even better and more influential leaders.
With Leading Edge, I coach leaders and work with teams to bring out high performance in both business and sporting contexts. I have a real thirst for learning and feel privileged that this new role will stretch me and put me at the cutting-edge of high performance sport, something that I can build on and use to enhance my approach for Leading Edge clients.
There are three things that represent our ethos at Dragons: hard work and effort, passion to get better every day, and a genuine care for each other and the team. I’m proud to be working with this special group and with someone like Dean Ryan, their Director of Rugby, who sees real benefit in bringing in relevant perspectives from outside the game. It’ll be brilliant to invite client partners and friends down to experience the environment and to share in some of what goes on here.
But before then, wish us luck for the season. We look forward to seeing you down at Rodney Parade, hopefully before too long.