27 August 2020

Here are three lessons I’ve learned about unleashing your inner champion with goal-setting: 

  • Take It One Step Further
  •  Find Another Route: No path toward a goal is free of potholes or roadblocks. When we encounter obstacles, we are called to stop, step back, and gain some perspective—figuratively and literally!
  • Practice Perseverance: A pattern of goal-setting had afforded me a strong foundation from which I could push off time and again.

As coaches, we face very similar issues and are often not very effective in changing the behaviors of our clients. This is because to change behavior we must:

  1. Understand why people currently behave the way they do.
  2. Understand what behaviors we want them to change and why.
  3. Identify barriers to change and ways to help them to overcome these barriers. 

Behavior change scientist Susan Michie and colleagues demonstrate that there are three behavioral drivers which interact in a complex fashion to explain why people behave the way they do: 

  • Capability refers to an individual’s knowledge, skills and physical abilities. 
  • Motivation not only relates to goal-orientated behaviors, it relates to emotional regulation and conscious decision-making. 
  • Opportunity relates to social factors including interactions with others than influence behaviors. 

That being said, we cannot begin to understand others without reflecting on what drives our coaching behaviors. We must accurately appraise our own coaching capabilities. What motivates us and what opportunities do we have to be a better coach? 

Do you simply expect athletes to comply with your instructions because you are the expert? Or is your coaching more about a partnership? Coaching capability does not suddenly surface when we attend our first coaching course or anoint ourselves as coaches. Rather, it begins soon after birth. Knowledge and skills develop through our education, early exploration and through our interactions with others. In short, our life journey influences how we think, behave, solve problems and interact with our clients. 

Additionally, the key to being an effective coach is recognizing that others do not always think the same way as we do. Rather, clients will have unique life experiences that have shaped their knowledge, values and beliefs. This will influence their interactions with you and what they expect from coaching.

Here are a few tips for great coaching fueled by behavior change science. When implementing these, remember to have patience for yourself and your athletes. Behavior change is a gradual but rewarding process.

  • Have a credible rationale for everything you ask your clients to do. That means understanding the ‘whys’ of your coaching, not just the ‘what’. 
  • Admit to yourself what you don’t know before applying what you think you do. 
  • Consider the likely outcomes, desirable and undesirable, of all your coaching behaviors. 
  • Ensure that there’s clarity in what you’re asking clients to do and in what type of feedback you expect back. 
  • Co-create training programs and workouts with your clients. What works for them may not match your ‘model’ of coaching so you need to adapt. This means getting to know your clients and what drives their behaviors.