CARVER Coaching & Performance Newsletter

Hi, Paul here,

I hope this finds you well. This week’s theme is…


The final step before ‘Competitive Greatness’ in John Wooden’s ‘Pyramid of Success’ is confidence. Wooden notes that confidence is developed on a foundation of respect without fear, and built through preparation and perspective.

Confidence is closely linked with the concept of self-efficacy introduced by Albert Bandura, defined as an individual’s belief in their capability or capacity to execute the behaviours required to produce a specific outcome. Self-efficacy is reflected in the ability to exert control over one’s motivation, behaviour, and social environment.

The more confident an individual is the more likely they are to achieve their desired outcomes or goals. This is because the degree of self-efficacy and confidence influences the amount of energy and focus that an individual expends on working toward a goal and their level of intrinsic motivation. Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy has significantly influenced how we approach behavioural change, with application in education, exercise, and addiction. It is also widely practicable in the sporting arena.

Whether you are competing or coaching at a grassroot or community level, or within the realm of elite sport, confidence can affect our behaviours and, in turn, influence the outcomes we experience. Numerous variables can influence our confidence, such as how we are feeling both mentally and physically, our past experience, and our level of preparation. A low degree of self-efficacy can impact our desire to participate and the way in which we participate; it can also negatively interfere with our performance and restrict our enjoyment. Similarly, overconfidence can also have negative consequences. For example, overestimating our ability can lead to injury, a loss of trust between teammates or colleagues, and underestimating ourselves in the future. However, the good news is that confidence is dynamic and we can take steps to enhance our self-efficacy.

Goal-setting is a highly effective method of building confidence. It is important to set goals that are achievable but challenging. Breaking our long-term goals into smaller, manageable tasks can assist us in moving closer to our goals and increasing our self-confidence as we can monitor our progress toward the longer-term goal. Habit-tracking and journaling can be used to measure such progress and helps us to visualise our improvement. When acquiring skills, the athlete and coach can divide the skill into simpler components and gradually increase the difficulty. Feedback also plays a significant role in the process of developing confidence. Praise and constructive criticism can help an athlete feel good about themselves while identifying specific areas for improvement. Constructive criticism should be detailed and assist the athlete in identifying gaps in their ability or knowledge. This can help the athlete visualise themselves bridging the gap between where they are currently and where they would like to be. Effort should also be praised, with failure identified as part of the process of learning.

Many athletes and coaches reflect to build confidence by recalling their accomplishments and achievements.

 What is the biggest challenge I have overcome, and how did I manage to overcome this challenge?

 What was my best performance to date, and what behaviours helped me to perform?

 What are my weapons or signature strengths, and how can I leverage them?

Take a moment to reflect on the challenges you have overcome, and your best performances to date, and take stock of your weapons or signature strengths.


CARVER Insight

I received a lovely message from a man called Jim last week. I had recently given a talk to his club and his message inferred that my presentation had changed many attendees’ perspective on coaching. That is my job… to help people change the way they look at things, to educate their perspective.

The CARVER Framework was designed as a set of lenses through which to view coaching… a perspective, so to speak. On page 10 of the book I wrote, ‘…. Perspective is hugely important. If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.’ So when Jim used the word ‘perspective’, it resonated. Now for a bit of a story…

When I wrote my first book Coaching Children in Sport- The CARVER Framework I was a very green and inexperienced writer. I worked so hard on that book that I still get a physical pain in my head when I think back to it. Building the Framework and ensuring it included all that was necessary, and nothing else, was painstaking work. I literally had to write a coaching book into a conceptual acronym which predetermined or constrained the chronology of the content… anyone who has read the book, or seen me present the Framework, may well appreciate the complexity of this challenge.

The book took me about three years to write, but like most things, it was a rush at the end. When the book was released, I was disappointed that there were a number of typos in it. Fortunately, the first run sold out more or less straight away, so there was a rush to reprint. This offered me a short window to sort the typos. I gave the book to Fran, a trusted head, and told him I needed it proofed and all the typos highlighted. Fran was the man for the job and got to it promptly. I met him a few days later when he was finished, and as he handed me back the book, he jokingly said that my biggest error was on the front cover.

(Original Front Cover of Coaching Children in Sport- The CARVER Framework)

As he handed the original book back to me, he turned it sideways and said, “If you turn it sideways you’ll have a ‘C’.”

(Reprint Front Cover of Coaching Children in Sport- The CARVER Framework)

I had spent 3 years writing the book: The name was the CARVER Framework; its subject matter was Coaching Children. It was a book oriented around concepts such as: Craft, Competence, Confidence, Contribution, Caring, Connection, Creativity, Challenge and so on. It was a book about changing people’s perspective….and yet I couldn’t see that if I rotated the icon on the front cover 90 degrees, it would make the letter ‘C’. It was literally under my nose, but my perspective was wrong and I couldn’t see it.

Perspective is key to everything. Sometimes you can look at things for so long and just not see what’s staring you in the face. Then, when you see it, it can’t be unseen.

Perspective is key… Can you see?

(I actually wrote that on page 11 of the book)

Where in your coaching might you need to change your perspective?

See you,


Copyright Paul Kilgannon 2021
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