CARVER Coaching & Performance Newsletter

Hi, Paul here,

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

What Is?

After a few weeks’ break I’m back to you… Momentum is a powerful ally… but equally,

overcoming inertia can be a significant challenge… I have yet to settle on how I see the newsletter progressing but for today I will get out what’s in my head, and update you with the latest goings on.

CARVER Insight

Currently I am preparing for some international conferences. I am in Scotland with Scottish Rugby next week. I always enjoy my time there. There is great warmth to the people and a great passion for coaching. The week after I travel to Houston to attend and present at the GAIN Conference. This is a bit of a ‘bus man’s holiday’ in that I am there to present and learn, but also to refresh.

I am currently filling my work calendar for July and August. Along with my ongoing coach development work in sport and the workplace, these months involve more athlete development work as clubs and academies seek to enhance their offerings through youth camps, and stimulate and support their players in different ways.

You will see a flyer below for youth sport offerings for Summer 2023. Be sure to give me a shout with any questions.

I am also in the final stages with some Bespoke Team Athlete Journals I have been commissioned to write. Along with this, I am currently undertaking a number of case studies on how athlete Journaling can be used in a team environment to drive self-regulation, self-management and general wellbeing in the athlete.

As you will see below I now offer a range of performance and wellbeing journals and

associated workshops for the individual, team and club or organisation in Sport, Education and the Workplace. I have as of yet to officially launch these journals. I guess it’s another ‘need to do’! Again, be sure to give me a shout with any questions on these. I am open for business😊

Now… some coaching stuff….

Two very simple words that I have learned serve us well is coaching (and almost every other domain) are ‘what is?’ They can be used in almost any situation to establish the facts of the matter; a baseline is a great place to start from. All too often I see coaches fail to establish or acknowledge the reality of the situation, and so their interventions are inappropriate or fall short, leaving everyone frustrated.

For Example:

• If you are coaching 6-year-old boys it is important to establish that the majority of them sleep in super hero pyjamas, see a ball as their own personal toy and cry a lot if they get upset. This is ‘what is’ If you fail to acknowledge this, both you and the players will suffer.

• If you are coaching an adult team, their intrinsic motivation and willingness to do what it is required to drive improvement may not be where you, or indeed they, presume it or expect it to be. There may be a number of reasons for this. If you and the team claim to be performance orientated no matter what you do you will not get a significant performance improvement without addressing their intrinsic motivation and willingness to do the work. Perhaps the group is of more a recreational disposition? This may well be ‘what is’. If you fail to acknowledge this both you and the players will suffer. I have seen countless coaches and teams be miserable simply due to the fact that they fail to establish or acknowledge ‘what is’ and work from there. They try to work from a point of ‘what is not’ and end up miserable. Accepting ‘what is’ can often provide a way forward.

• If you are coaching an 11-year old camogie player and notice a deficiency in her swing mechanics and wish to intervene appropriately, your starting point should be to establish ‘what is’ through coach observation. What can the player do and what is missing? Perhaps she has yet to master the counter-step. Therefore, her body tightens and restricts as she goes to rotate when producing the swing. If you fail to establish ‘what is’ no amount of ‘hard work’ will optimise her swing mechanics. Asking ‘what is?’ when observing skill execution is a great starting point.

• When working with coaching teams at adult level you can find bias and subjective opinion to be at the heart of the how they operate. We all have our opinions and bias, so when working together it is critical we be as objective as possible. Establishing ‘what is’ through intelligent use of data and objective measures is a solid foundation from where to work from. To quote Bill Bullard “Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding.” The coach and coaching team must always ask… ‘what is?’ 

• Finally, I have found that most coaches really want to be a positive influence on their players. However, the reality of what actually comes out of their mouths can be quite different. When recently coding a coach’s use of language, we found that of 30 coaching communications, 26 of them were what could be termed negative in nature. 

It was never as easy to establish ‘what is’ in your coaching communication. Simply press the voice record button on your phone and off you go. Are you commenting, commending, critiquing, cuing, criticising? Establish ‘what is’ and then ask yourself is this what you want.

‘What is?’… two simple yet powerful words we can use in almost every coaching situation.

Chat soon,


Copyright Paul Kilgannon 2021
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