Plan like an athlete to make 2013 your best year yet!


Elite athletes regularly reflect and evaluate performance with their coaching team – for many the end of the year or start of a new year is a key point to both do this and plan for the year ahead, establishing goals and how to achieve them. The outcome – performance – process strategy is widely used by high performers – what are the outcomes you want to achieve in 2010, what performance is needed to get there and what processes do you need to put in place for this to happen?

Going through this process will help provide a focus for higher achievement in 2013.  The following questions are designed to enable you to do this.

  • What do you really want to achieve in 2013 – professionally & personally?
  • Can you put these under a headline theme for the year?
  • What do you need to do to make these happen?
  • For each goal outline the performance needed, what processes, resources and support do you need to make these happen?
  • Who do you need to be to achieve these goals?
  • What beliefs and obstacles are getting in the way?
  • What can you do to change these?
  • List your top 5 supporters who want big things for you?
  • How can you get the most from their positive energy?
  • List the people who limit you
  • What can you do to minimize their impact on you?
  • What makes you smile and how will you incorporate these things into your daily life?
  • What regular habits help you stay well, happy and in balance?
  • What single thing if you did it regularly would make the most difference in helping you achieve your goals?
  • How will you reward yourself for achieving these goals?

A happy new year to all.

Who’s In Your Support Team For 2013?

BBC Sports Personality of The Year 2012In the UK on Sunday we’ve just had the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, won this year by cyclist Bradley Wiggins, the first Briton ever to win the Tour de France and winner of Olympic gold medal for the time trial less than two weeks later.

All this years 12 contenders came from sports that are commonly seen as individual sports – cycling, tennis, athletics, golf, boxing, sailing, swimming,   though winning the Tour de France is undoubtedly a team effort (more below). However, one consistent theme, as the 12 athletes were interviewed throughout the evening, was the credit that the athletes gave to their support teams.  This extends beyond their coaches, Bradley Wiggins gave credit to both the Team Sky riders, coaches and the support staff.  Fittingly, Dave Brailsford, principal of Team Sky and Performance Director for British Cycling, won the coach of the year award, where he also credited Shane Sutton (Head Coach), Rod Ellingworth (Race Coach) and Tim Kerrison (Head of Performance Support), as well as re-iterating the importance of support, this time for the coach:

“I am lucky because I get to collect the award but there is a great team behind me. It is about the athletes, it is about the riders and we have a brilliant team in British Cycling and Team Sky.  My job is to look after other people and to get them to be better.”

Another example of the extended nature of the support team is British tennis player Andy Murray, who came third on the night.  Winner of Olympic gold in 2012 in the men’s singles and, in winning the US Open in September, he became the first Briton to win a grand slam in 76 years.  A look at Murray’s box during his matches shows the extent and varied nature of his support team.  It consists of Ivan Lendl (coach), Danny Vallverdu (hitting partner & friend), Andy Ireland (physio), Matt Little (fitness trainer), Jez Green (movement trainer), Kim Sears (girlfriend), Judy Murray (mum) and Louise Irving (agent/commercial management).

Murray’s  team illustrates the variety of those that provide support and that it is not just the technical support of his coaching team that he values but also his family and friends.

The nature of any team in elite sport is, as Dave Brailsford said, “to get them to be better”.  We can all perform better but this performance improvement needs to be around specific goals.  In cycling this year, the results of last years sports personality of the year, sprinter Mark Cavendish, suffered in the Tour de France, as his team focused on the overall win with Bradley Wiggins. The focus on getting a clean British winner within five years of the establishment of Team Sky (four years ago) has been achieved as Brailsford had the vision and planned rigorously to achieve that goal.

In 2013 Andy Murray’s team will be aiming to do better than 2012, with the focus being on the four grand slams.  For us also, we should be establishing goals for 2013, planning for them by thinking through what performance is needed and working with our support team to achieve our goals.  The support team may include a coach but we have other sources of support that we can tap into, including our family and friends and those we work with and for.  Look for honest feedback on your capability and performance and not just in the annual or twice yearly review.  Performance assessment should be on-going, not after the fact.

Never Know When You’re Beaten!

Following on from the last post on unity of purpose, I’m continuing with the theme of football (soccer for those in the US!), on Sunday in the match of the premier league season so far, Manchester United, having been 2-0 up and then pegged back to 2-2, scored the winner in the 92nd minute.  In a post match interview, United striker, Wayne Rooney, said that “under Sir Alex we never know when we’re beaten”.

Ever since the legendary night in May 1999, when United beat Bayern Munich to win the European Champions League for the second time, coming from behind to score the equaliser on the 90th minute and the winner in injury time, they have acquired a reputation of a team that never knows when they’re beaten.  This season they have come from behind a number of times and on four occasions the winning goal has been scored in the last 10 minutes of the game.

The quality at this level, as with any elite sport is exceptional.  The last 30 minutes of last Sunday’s Manchester derby were talked about as being of astonishingly high quality attacking football by some pundits.  In this context to retain that “never give up” mentality requires phenomenal mental strength, whether in a team game like football, or in an individual sport like tennis, when the temptation to feel down has to be overcome to retain focus on not just winning but what the performance needs to be to achieve that.  For United it required they continue to attack with a cohesive team performance but at the same time maintaining concentration in defence.

We all suffer setbacks but ensuring we maintain our focus on our desired outcome and the performance needed to achieve that is crucial to making it happen.Image