CARVER Coaching & Performance Newsletter

Hi, Paul here,


I hope this finds you well and thanks for joining again. This week’s topic is:

Cognitive Biases

To start, I have some news I want to share with you so I am going to switch up the running order😊

CARVER Insight

Next Wednesday I will launch The CARVER Community for Positive and Impactful Sports Coaching.🚀


This will be a 3-month Online Coach Mentoring Programme designed to support coaches in defining, refining and redefining their Coaching Philosophy and Practice into a practical framework that will drive healthy and impactful coaching practices.


Our mission in CARVER Coaching and Performance is to: “To improve the standard of coach and athlete support for performance and societal betterment” and this programme is designed to further our mission.


This programme is designed to drive the revolution!!!


This Community will be for coaches and mentors from all sports, ages and grades who genuinely want to feel more confident and fulfilled in their coaching and, make a positive and impactful contribution to the development and performance of their athletes and team.


We are looking for coaches who appreciate and channel the power of sport and coaching for societal and performance betterment and have a genuine ambition to be the best coach they can be. We want coaches who are driven to serve with character, honesty, fairness and authenticity, and who would value the opportunity to learn from, and share experiences with, like-minded coaches. To paraphrase the All Black mantra…. “No dickheads please!”


I will explain all in detail to you next Wednesday.


Viva La Revolution

Cognitive Biases

We all have our biases towards, or against, people, activities, foods and so on… but do we really understand these biases? On our coaching journey, it is critical we develop objectivity in our judgment and view every scenario we encounter through an objective lens. Athletes respond positively to fairness, objectivity and transparency.


Cognitive biases are the inherent mental shortcuts and patterns of thinking which lead to systematic errors in our judgment and decision-making. They influence our perception of reality, memory and reasoning, causing us to misinterpret information and make flawed choices. In order for us to become more critical, rational and accurate thinkers and decision-makers in coaching, it is important to understand some of the most common biases. Today we will look at two different types of biases and next week we will explore this topic further.

Fact and Information Bias

This is the tendency to rely on factual data and information to the exclusion of other factors and context involved in making informed decisions. This leads to a narrow one-sided bias, discounting contextual and qualitative factors which may be equally important.


In sport, coaches and analysts frequently dig into the statistics an athlete is displaying (i.e., GPS metrics, game statistics). Often they overlook other factors that could be equally important to performance. GPS and other performance analysis tools highlight the quantity rather than the quality of work being done by athletes. Without extensive and well-rounded knowledge, coaches can become over-reliant on these numbers and make ill-informed decisions as a result.


Questions a coach can ask themselves when making decisions:

Am I balancing factual data with understanding in the context of this situation?

Are there contextual factors which might explain this information?

What is this information not telling me?

Stereotyping and Generalising

This involves making broad assumptions about individuals, grouping and categorising them based on limited information obtained from experience or information gathered about individuals who fit into these groups. While this can be useful in certain cases (e.g. strangers considered dangerous to children), it can lead to prejudice and bias by overlooking an individual’s uniqueness.


We often find that coaches or players stereotype opponents or referees, making assumptions based on where there from or something similar. Likewise, we might view one personality trait in an individual, link this to another person with the same trait, and ascribe all the undesirable aspects of that person onto the other. This rash type of judgement can be very damaging, especially for youth athletes who are struggling to fit in. It is far more beneficial for the coach to take the time to get know the individual properly so they can put this undesirable trait into context and, avoid painting them with the same brush as we have others.


Questions a coach can ask themselves:


Am I making assumptions about people based on the group of people I believe they belong to?

Am I ascribing the traits for another person onto this person?

What are the positive qualities this person possesses?

If this is a non-negotiable behaviour they’re not displaying, how can I appeal to their better nature and make it relatable to them?


We will have more on this next week.


Thanks for reading,



Copyright Paul Kilgannon 2021
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