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My UKSCA Conference Takeaways 2023

success practices uksca values Aug 31, 2023

It's been an exciting few weeks after presenting at the UKSCA conference 2023.

It was a real success, much of which has been down to the many conversations I've had about how much men behind sport resonates with so many coaches.

I feel this area is about to explode. I believe wholeheartedly that organisations that don’t listen to this will be left behind on both the talent of support staff they can attract and the impact they can provide to the athletes.

I wanted to share with you my takeaways from my presentation and from what stood out to me over the weekend.

Stand Out Message

  • Belonging
  • Connection
  • Care
  • Relationships
  • Honesty

These are what count!

Easy to say - A whole other ball game to embody within the core of the high-performance department across disciplines.

As Nic Gill (All Blacks Head S&C) said:

"It's easy to learn programming, the hard part is building connections and relationships."

Scott Robertson (All Blacks Head Coach) says:

"Leadership begins with knowing who you are."

This is where the rubber meets the road.

My Panel Discussion Takeaways

1) What role do you feel we as the employer have in facilitating an individual coming into an organisation?

  • Ensure there is supreme clarity of the role.
  • Be supremely clear with your boundaries - professional and personal.
  • This means you recognise the line between work and life.
  • Share how you maintain that line.
  • Get to know the new coach outside of technical.
  • Involve their partner if they have one.
  • Make the coach know they are trusted in their ability.
  • Recognise imposter syndrome is real, and address it.
  • You have a part to play as an employer to allow the coaches' full potential to shine.
  • If it doesn’t shine, you need to provide all the opportunity to understand why not & how.
  • Look at the whole person.
  • Coaches need coaches!


2) You’ve got yourself a new job, what are the key things you need to consider?

  • Take 100% personal responsibility for your experience.
  • Be supremely clear with what your success in the first 100 days looks like from your employer’s view.
  • Be supremely clear about what that success looks like for you.
  • Be supremely clear about what your values, needs and wants are - both professional and personal.
  • Sport requires sacrifice at times - Be supremely clear with what sacrifices you’re happy to make - define them.
  • Define how long you're willing to do that.
  • Start day 1 as 100% authentically yourself - drop the front.
  • Walk the walk of your values.
  • Remember, the tone you set is who people will think you are - much harder to change in the future.
  • This means clarity in your boundaries - you’ve already got the job!
  • You're on the team for the expert application of your experience and knowledge, not for the number of hours you can work.
  • Focus on building connection over technical impact - you’ve got the job! They know you have the technical ability otherwise, they wouldn't have employed you.
  • Key theme all weekend - relationships, connection, honesty, care.
  • Leading others starts with knowing yourself - make this a key part of your development plan. In my opinion, this should rank higher than technical development.
  • Hold your centre by self-regulating - Learn how to come into heart/brain coherence (this is simply a skill).
  • Whether you’re anxious, or you’re in coherence - athletes and staff will pick up on it. You can significantly impact this.
  • Self-regulation is, in my opinion, one of the key pillars in influencing people - many don’t even recognise and are stuck at the level of mind!
  • Be the resonant tuning fork of the department - no matter what level you're at.

My Presentation Takeaways

Common themes across 160 support staff are:

  • Achievement but not meaning - The external measure of our “success” in sport is leaving many unfulfilled, lost and confused.
  • Poor work/life balance - the figure front sets work culture, their personal skews affect everyone.
  • Unshaped personal boundaries - key point is that many don’t know how to say no and fear reprisal if they do.
  • Emotionally unskilled - Many find it hard to be alone with their thoughts, distract/numb themselves instead, feel unsafe in expressing how they feel.
  • Stuck in identity - Feel trapped, defend their professional identity as a coach in sport at all costs.
  • Stuck in their head - Always thinking about what's next, whether that's career progression, qualifications, CPD, stages of season/Olympic cycle, Don't celebrate their successes.

The Personal Cost:

  • Broken relationship/Divorce.
  • Absent parent.
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety ("stuck in my head").
  • Addiction, attempted suicide (2 cases).
  • Physical illness.
  • Day-to-day basis they feel alone.
  • Leading to the inability to be their best self.
  • Performance compromised at work.
  • Leave coaching.

Supporting evidence:

  • Help-seeking is stigmatised.
  • Coaches experience mental health severity that warrants support as much as athletes.
  • Yet very little within organisations offer effective support for coaches.
  • The development of individuals is only through the technical lens, never from the lens of learning who they are as a person.


  • Begins by taking personal responsibility
  • Changing culture within organisations (I didn't cover this, and I have clear thoughts around this).


  • Reconnection to Self
  • Identity
  • Becoming Present

How much of your development is aimed at you?

Are you spending any time looking at developing yourself as a person, not just as a coach?


Layers of You

1) How you show up (Thinking process, communication, self-regulation, assumptions).

e.g. Do you have a decompression strategy?

  • Control people's access to you (phone boundaries)
  • Communicate your boundaries?
  • Conscious neurophysiological reset (breath, meditation, cold water, nature, moving in a rejuvenating way etc.)

In your role:

  • What are the expectations of you?
  • Who defines that?
  • What jobs are you adding for yourself? e.g. rescuing others, unshaped boundaries (to be liked, good enough, stand out...)
  • What are you pretending not to know?

2) Your Compass (Values, needs, wants, beliefs, identities, awareness).

e.g. Upon thinking about the beliefs you have of yourself, are they serving you or limiting you?


3) Your Freedom (Integrity, Authenticity, Heart-Led, Purpose, Vision).

e.g. How aligned and expressed are you with your truth in your day to day life?


Your Needs Analysis

1) What do I think?

  • What is success for you?
  • Is that your definition
  • When will you know you've achieved it?
  • What does loyalty mean to you?
  • What sacrifices are you willing to make?
  • And for how long?
  • My definition of success:

Success to me now is a person who stands in their integrity and lives authentically in alignment with their values that allows them to express their natural born talents.


2) What do I want?

  • What are 3 of your values?
  • Why these 3?
  • Are you in or out of alignment?

3) What do I commit to?

  • What type of man/woman do you present in your day-to-day world?
  • What type of man/woman are you on the inside?
  • What gap can you see?
  • What lies are you telling yourself?
  • What are you doing just because you’re worried about what others will think?


Are You Read?

My focus is looking at the man behind the role because it's these hidden limitations that govern the thoughts, feelings, and actions, which so often make it challenging to maintain harmony in life.

The work I do at Men Behind Sport addresses very practical steps to allow male performance staff to understand themselves on a deeper level.

These practices help you accelerate your process of understanding yourself through inner work.

If you are interested in working with me you can learn more about The Lost to Liberated Blueprint and book a call here.

In Kindness,


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