CARVER Coaching & Performance Newsletter

Hi Paul here,

I hope this finds you well. This week, to mark the launch of my new athlete journal ‘Be the Best You Can Be in Sport- The Daily Journal’, we have Part 2 of a two-part series on…

Athlete Journaling II

In coaching parlance, we continuously hear terms such as: coaching philosophy, values, session planning, game models, self-reflection and so on. These are all powerful concepts and help drive performance, improvement and congruence in our coaching. The prudent coach is always striving to learn and improve. The goal is to come closer to the coach we wish to be.

If we apply the same concepts and thinking to athletes and athlete performance, we can appreciate concepts and terms such as: athletic philosophy, values driven behaviours, training previews and reflections, metric tracking and so. A journal affords the athlete the opportunity to develop all of these concepts and practices… and many more.

Athletes must be afforded the opportunity to get to know, and understand themselves intimately. In order to be yourself, you must know yourself, and in order to stay yourself under pressure and stress, you must really understand yourself. The athlete journal can be used to craft and hone a personal and athletic identity or philosophy. Simple journaling prompts can assist the athlete in developing self-understanding. Such understanding can guide the athlete and act as a North Star as they move forward. Simple prompts can generate a snapshot of who they are, who they want to be and how they want to live inside of and outside of sport. The athlete journal can act as a go-to source for the athlete to seek direction and gain understand on a daily basis. Through their journaling and life experiences, the athlete will learn much that may lead them to change and refine their understanding of self. Journaling prompts are an excellent tool the coach can use to help the athlete gain clarity on a number of areas such as: what sport means to them, their Values, what type of teammate they wish to be, how they intend to practice and prepare, their personal definitions around commitment, excellence and so on.

Goal setting and metric tracking are well-established and recognised skills the athlete can utilise to focus their intention and attention, and track their progress. Daily and weekly metric tracking is a powerful way to drive momentum in learning and development, and live an informed life. The athlete journal is a great place to craft, store and track goals, inputs and behaviours. It can also be used as a place for planning, setting intentions, reflecting and recording lessons learned. Sunday’s are often a great day to journal your plans and intentions for the week ahead. Saturday’s are often a great day to capture and reflect on the learnings the week had to offer.

And so I hope it is clear how the coach can assist the athlete in utilising the journal as the ultimate learning and support tool. No doubt there is work to be done on the coach’s part, but it can start small and simple, allowing the concept to grow. As with most things in sport… consistency trumps intensity. Perhaps the simplest place to start could be post-competition by asking the athlete to write down what they need to: stop, start and continue doing. Simple stuff (we will see more about ‘simple’ in my CARVER Insight piece shortly.)

Returning to Part 1 of this series on journaling, I will end where I began, with Stephen Covey’s advice to “Begin with the end in Sight.” What are the non-sporting qualities you wish to develop as an athlete or help develop in the athletes you coach? I am confident you will appreciate that the athlete journal, when used to it potential, can be an excellent tool to help realise this vision.

In this video you will see me further explain why I believe athlete journaling is a simple practice with huge potential to improve performance and wellbeing.

To mark the launch of ‘Be the Best You Can Be in Sport- The Daily Journal’ I am exclusively sharing a 20% journal discount coupon with all newsletter subscribers. The pictures used above are examples from the journal, as completed by a high performing athlete. This video will give you an overview of my signature ‘This is Me’ Guide that is central to the athlete journaling process I have created.

I am confident this journal can help many athletes in supporting both performance and wellbeing. It is designed to provide an intelligent journaling system and structure, that offers the athlete great freedom in how they approach this most valuable practice. As always, I greatly appreciate any and all support of my work.


CARVER Insight

‘Simplicity yields complexity’ is a lesson I have taken from the famed athletic development coach, Vern Gambetta. He further explains that the key to coaching and performance is to, “Do simple better.” In coaching, simplifying without over-simplifying, is a tall order. The challenge is to have everything you need, and nothing more. In truth, it is only the expert who knows what is not important.

All too often, people confuse simple and easy. As legendary Dutch footballer Johan Cruyff beautifully explained, “Playing football is very simple, but playing simple football is the hardest thing there is.” Furthermore, the great Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci noted that, “Simplicity is the highest form of sophistication”. While Mark Twain, when writing to a friend explained rather ironically, that…. if he had more time he would have written a shorter letter. This simplicity stuff, sure seems difficult….

I like to use simple messages and concepts in my coach development work. Below is a letter I often share with coaches. It has simple messages that always resonate with people. Connacht Rugby Coach Andy Friend shared this in Be the Best You Can Be in Sport- A Book for Irish Youth. The messages here are simple, but to paraphrase Cruyff… Coaching with simplicity is the hardest thing there is.

Indeed, coaching is simple…but not easy.

A Father’s (Mother’s) Wish—(Author Unknown)

Tomorrow morning my son (daughter) starts football. He (She) is going to step out onto the field, and a great adventure that will probably include joys and disappointments begins. So, I wish you take him (her) by his young hand and teach him the things he will have to know.

· Teach him (her) to respect the Referee and that his judgement is final

· Teach him not to hate his competitors but to admire their skills

· Teach him to play as part of a team and never be selfish

· Team him to never blame his teammates if the team is losing

· Teaching him that winning isn’t everything but trying to win is

· Teach him that it is far more honourable to lose than it is to cheat

· Teach him to be a competitor

· Teach him to close his ears to the howling mob and stand up for himself if he thinks he is right

· Teach him gentle, but don’t coddle him, because only the test of fire makes fine steel

This is a big order Coach, and I place my son in your hands. See what you can do for him.

He’s a great fella.

His Dad/ Mam

Keep it simple,


Copyright Paul Kilgannon 2021
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