CARVER Coaching & Performance Newsletter

Hi, Paul here,


I hope this finds you well. This week’s topic is:

Cognitive Distortions

A few bits

CARVER Insight

This will be the final newsletter before Christmas. It has been a busy period for me, so I’m going take some time off for Christmas. Baby Rían Kilgannon joined us over 3 months ago and that has been a whole new ball game! He is thriving, thank God, but it is a challenge trying to balance being self- employed and being a good parent; I’m sure many of you know the deal.


This is the last CARVER Insight before Christmas; traditionally a time of reflection for many. You will know from the CARVER Framework that Reflective practice is one of my core principles. Productive reflection isn’t about dwelling on the past but learning from experience; from successes and failures. It is harvesting learnings; after all, coaching is a learning competition.


As part of my work I consult one-to-one with many coaches and managers. One manager I work with calls me his ‘thinking cap’. In many ways I am independent set of ears and eyes to a person who is in a challenging position. Sometimes my role is to provide knowledge or insight where there may be a gap. While other times, my role can be to ask questions. Often the answers lie within; introspection is the way forward.


Below are 5 questions I believe every coach should reflect upon this Christmas


1. How well did I foster a positive team culture this year?

2. How did I treat the weakest in my team this year?

3. How did I behave or carry myself in challenging situations this year?

4. Why am I better coach because of my experiences this year?

5. What will I do differently next year?


Self-awareness is a key to good coaching practice. Go figure!

Cognitive Distortions

As often referenced in this newsletter, objectivity of judgement and emotional-regulation are key coaching qualities. Today’s newsletter aims to further develop our understanding of these qualities. Today we will briefly examine the area of cognitive distortions, an area that is important as it:

  • Gives us a better understanding of how and why we judge certain situations.

  • Raises our awareness of how and when distortions might occur.

  • Helps us recognise distortions in others.

Think of a time when a relatively ordinary event led you to experiencing a sudden, drastic change in emotion, leaving you feeling angry, frustrated, or worried. This personal emotional response to a minor event is one of the most glaring signs that you may have distorted this event in your mind. Be not alarmed! It happens to us all in various ways. The trouble is these distortions are often difficult to recognise in ourselves. Today we will explore two common cognitive distortions.




Deletions occur when we selectively pay attention to either only the positives or negatives of an event or situation, disregarding the other. This develops tunnel vision and a skewed outlook of a given situation.

  • Example: A basketball player has a great shooting percentage but misses a crucial shot to win the game. The player focuses only on the miss and believes they had a terrible performance.

  • Correction: The player should acknowledge their overall strong performance and not let one missed shot overshadow their success.

As coaches we can help our athletes by asking:

  • What were the positives and negatives in your performance?

  • How did you perform over the course of the game?

  • Leaving the result aside, how can you be balanced in your assessment of your performance?

Mental Filtering


Mental filtering occurs when we over-summarise a series of events or situations to come up with one conclusion, overlooking all other important information. This is most common after a series negative events or performances. Instead of considering each event as unique, we irrationally filter these experiences to produce a singular conclusion.


Example: A golfer has consistently improved their swing, but as a result of these changes hasn’t been playing well as of late, fixating on their score rather than their progress.


Correction: The golfer should consider the overall trend of improvement in an important aspect of their performance and not dwell on a score when learning is occuring.


As a coach you can help your athletes by asking:

  • Are you progressing in the area you’re working on?

  • What did you do well and where could you improve?

  • Are you considering all elements of your performance when comparing past performances?

I want to end by thanking you for your support of my work. I greatly appreciate. I’ll be back after Christmas to drive on the Revolution!


Be good to yourself this Christmas… take a break… switch off. Oh yes… we are masters at telling others what we need to hear☺️


Merry Christmas,



Copyright Paul Kilgannon 2021
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