Supporting Champions Podcast #6 David Fletcher

In this episode I talk to David Fletcher about his career as a swimmer, researcher and expert in the area of adversity.

Show notes;

07:00 Early aspirations as a swimmer, but experiencing near misses as an athlete and academically
10:00 Transfer of desire from swim background to early success in studies
12:00 Father as a science role-model, searching and sharing academic papers
15:30 Importance of internship in sporting environment
19:00 Importance of breadth of experience beyond own area of specialism
23:30 Interest in the stresses that athletes experiences
25:00 Stresses changing based on growth of high performance system
28:00 Uncovering poor organisational behaviours that adversely influenced sporting performance
29:00 Seeking legal advice due to controversial nature of athlete interviews – sticking to your guns about unearthing and communicating stresses
31:00 Identifying stresses and how some used stressful experiences as fuel for determination
34:00 Organisational stresses – leadership styles, not being listened to, overuse of pressure training and how it spilled over
35:00 How it is unethical not to prepare athletes for the pressure of top competitions
36:00 How leadership behaviours permeated down to grass-root levels
41:00 Adversity as a stimulus for growth – so it needs to be;

– Relevant, e.g. penalty shoot-out
– Progressively adaptable
– Agreed

44:00 Appropriate and inappropriate consequences to contravening agreed behaviours
47:00 Role of early adversity as a fuel for focusing on sporting goals
48:00 Theories emerging – life adversity coinciding with sporting success, and finding sport as a sanctuary
50:00 Caveat that sport doesn’t protect person from mental health response to adversarial events
51:30 How best to support when people experience adversity; 1) give them space; 2) supporting people when they are ready to disclose – provide inspirational opportunities; 3) when a vase breaks consider creating a new mosaic rather than re-building as it was
57:00 Adversity gives you honesty to review deeply
59:00 Different personality traits required to succeed in sport vs life
60:00 Re-emergence of ‘issues’ wen sport is not there
61:00 Are we doing enough to support coaches?
64:00 Lessons for everybody
– Anything worthwhile will have its challenges
– Importance of anticipating stresses and preparing for them
– Importance of support network
– Importance of disclosing and being open to sharing stress response
67:00 Future directions in area of adversity

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Dr Steve Ingham is one of the UK’s leading figures in sport and one of the world’s leading performance scientists. He is steeped in high performance and has been integral to the development of Britain into an Olympic superpower. He has provided support to over 1000 athletes, of which over 200 have achieved World or Olympic medal success, including some of the world’s greatest athletes such as Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent. Steve has coached Kelly Sotherton's running for heptathlon and to 4x400m Olympic medal winning success. Steve has worked at the English Sports Council British Olympic Association, English Institute of Sport, where Steve was the Director of Science and Technical Development, leading a team of 200 scientists in support of Team GB and Paralympics GB. Ingham holds a BSc, PhD and is a Fellow of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences. Steve is author of the best selling ‘How to Support a Champion: The art of applying science to the elite athlete’, discussing and inspiring the importance of learning and adapting to reach our maximum potential. Steve established Supporting Champions with the ambition of helping ambitious people to find a better way of creating high-performance. Steve hosts the Supporting Champions Podcast on sharing his pursuit of understanding and exploration in performance.

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