Bangladesh 5

There are moments in life when I am truly inspired by an event or a moment in time.  Watching young cricketers stay mentally tough or watch a young footballer move from Yorkshire to Spain to start a new life or the example of the Australian Open culminating in an absolutely incredible and epic Men’s Final between Djokovic and Nadal.

One that was a truly remarkable match of endurance, courage, belief and skill.

As important was their reaction afterwards.

I’m a professional tennis player. I’m sure any other colleague tennis player would say the same: We live for these matches. We work every day. We’re trying to dedicate all our life to this sport to come to the situation where we play a six hour match for a Grand Slam title.

Novak Djokovic

This is where we live to be in the pressure zone and give it our all.  We get to identify how good we are today and test ourselves to the limit. We can be free in the moment and not be afraid to fail and if we do we do whilst daring greatly.

I suffered during the match, but I enjoyed all the troubles that I had during all the match. I tried to be there, to find solutions all the time. I played a lot with my heart. I played a lot with my mind, and is something that is nice to be around and not just play tennis. Even though I lost it was something very special for me.

Rafa Nadal

We must never forget that adversity is where we find how out who we are. If we can undertake our professions/and use our heart and minds, to find solutions to the problems we face so that we can always optimize our performance.  I often think back to how free my mind and my performances were when I was younger, we should enable ourselves to be free of constraints no matter what age we and seize the chances that are offered to us in all walks of life.

VIctoria Azarenka, who just 12 months ago was thinking of giving up, but she hung in there and is now Australian Open Champion and World Number 1.

I guess I made a pretty smart decision not walking out. I learned no one road goes straight; there are always ups and downs. 

It is so easy to give up when things or the going gets tough – our ability to dust ourselves down and learn from the experience is vital.  Then Ctrl-alt-delete and move forward.

Are you giving it your all in whatever you do? Do you prepare to win in even the toughest of situations? Do you absolutely believe you can do it? What do you need to do to be a true champion?

 Any man can win when things go his way, it’s the man that overcomes adversity that is the true champion.

Jock Ewing

Have the courage, determination and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.

 Self leadership is the key and I will go back to my single most important word-“discipline”.

 It takes discipline to look a man in the eyes rather than at his feet, his chest or the space above his shoulders.

It takes discipline to train when it is wet and cold , when all the others are at home behind the glass.

It takes discipline to tell the truth.

It takes discipline to keep your eyes on the vision of your dreams.

It takes discipline to constantly work on the basics even when the basics get a little boring.

It takes discipline to constantly practice under pressure so that nothing surprises you during the game.

It takes discipline to get out of your warm bed.

It takes discipline to keep running when you body wants to stop.

It takes discipline to do the little things even if the do not seem important.

It takes discipline to be respectful.

It takes discipline to stick to the game plan

It takes discipline to guard against complacency, arrogance and laziness.

It takes discipline to look for the facts without making excuses.

It takes discipline to make the right choice.

It takes discipline to be on time.

It takes discipline to fight back.

It takes discipline to relax and find balance.

It takes discipline to lead by example.

It takes discipline to listen and learn.

It takes discipline to say NO.

It is discipline that gets you to the top.

Bangladesh 2

The start to the week has been very positive, three days of practice getting everyone acclimatised has been essential.  It is so important to get the feel for a new environment and the conditions. This allows us to remember that although we are still doing the same skill set whether that is in business, sport or the military, we may have to adjust our tactics and certain technical elements.

One of the key learnings I took away from from the military was that I was fortunate to be trained to work in all the environments I was likely to have to operate and fight in.  This meant I was able to understand the subtle difference between working in the desert, jungle, arctic, bush or indeed a European type environment.  I just had to remember that it was still soldiering therefore the basic skills remained, just with an upgrade in certain technical/tactical areas. The mental toughness side did not change nor the physicality required to do my job.  It is the same conditions for the competition and if we want to compete we have to adapt.  Once again those with the most flexible system will undoubtedly perform consistently well in all conditions.

What has been great with the current team that I am working with is that they have been given the opportunity to understand the conditions and tactics of all the other teams that they are likely to play against in the forthcoming World Cup. This will only bode well for their development in the short/medium and long term.

It is also important to remember that we don’t expect instant success and that this is still a learning environment with skill development and then pressure trg being the top of the agenda to build up the team to an elite performance level.  The test environment will come later in the year prior to the World Cup, which is when it will count and where they will be expected to deliver.

I am looking forward to the six nations this year, and I am fortunate to come back from India and be able to see the Wales v Scotland match at the millennium stadium which is one of my favorite stadiums in the World.  It will be interesting to see how all of the home nations rebound from the World cup and begin their preparation for the next one.


My physical trg has been going well, It is nice to be able to spend time having the correct food/hydration, right amount of sleep/rest alongside physical training.  It is times like this that I realise how fortunate I am.

Have a wonderful Week………………


Great article to start the blog, how do you lift a very talented team so that they realise their potential?  Leadership is the key (always is), individual and team leadership.  A clear vision for what is required with no ambiguity and a culture that the team is willing to live to and be accountable for.

I was recently asked by a talented group of sportsmen if it was me or the coaching staff that tells the team what its culture is………?

The answer is no it is not the coaching staff although they help monitor it, it is the team (the team is the players, the leadership team and the support staff).  However there is a price to pay and that price is once again responsibility and accountability. If we set standards of behavior and performance we hold to them and if we do not there are consequences for not doing so. No consequences then nothing ever really happens.

How do we do this with a talented individual who is a game winner/changer, who does not want to abide by accepted standards of behavior? Easily, do not select them if their behavior is detrimental to the rest of the team and they are unable to compromise.  To do this it requires strong leadership and the best type of leadership comes when your peers are also prepared to step up and tell you that your behavior is letting the team down. I often get a team to write down on a piece of paper all of the things that the other individual team members bring to the team (things that they need to continue doing and is important to the team). I then get them to write down the one thing that is detrimental to the team performance and that they should stop doing.

Without constructive feed back one cannot grow – once a team learns to do this properly it empowers a team and more importantly allows us to reach our true potential.

Principles for Constructive Feedback

Feedback is a way of learning more about ourselves and the effect our behaviour has on others. Constructive feedback increases self-awareness, offers options and encourages development, so it is important to learn to both give it and receive it. Constructive feedback does not mean only giving positive feedback. Negative feedback, given skilfully, can be very important and useful. Destructive feedback means that which is given in an unskilled way, which leaves the participant simply feeling bad with seemingly nothing on which to build or options for using the learning.

1. Start with the positive

Most people need encouragement, to be told when they are doing something well. When offering feedback it can really help the receiver to hear first what you like about them or what they have done well e.g. “I really liked the way you responded to Alison, however, on this occasion I did feel that you made an assumption about her without checking it out.”. Our culture tends to emphasise the negative therefore the focus is likely to be on mistakes more often than strengths. In a rush to criticise we may overlook the things we liked. If the positive is registered first, any negative is more likely to be listened to and acted upon.

2. Be specific

Try to avoid general comments which are not useful when it comes to developing skills. Statements such as “You were brilliant!” or “It was awful” may be pleasant or dreadful to hear but they do not give enough detail to be a useful source of learning. Try to pin-point what the person did which lead you to use the label “brilliant” or “awful” e.g. “The way you asked that question just at that moment was really helpful” or “By responding that way you seemed to be imposing your views on the student”. Specific feedback gives more opportunity for learning.

3. Refer to behaviour that can be changed

It is not likely to be helpful to give a person feedback about something over which they have no choice or control e.g. “the size of the student group is too big”, is not offering information about which the person can do very much. On the other hand, to be told that “It may help to think of ways of breaking the size of the group down” you can give a person something on which to work.

4. Offer alternatives

If you do offer negative feedback then do not simply criticise but suggest what the person could have done differently. Turn negative feedback into a positive suggestion e.g. “You could try breaking the large group down into smaller groups and use activities such as small scale research projects and seminar presentations”.

5. Be descriptive rather than evaluative

Tell the person what you saw or heard and the effect it had on you, rather than merely something was “good”, “bad” etc. e.g. “Your tone of voice a you said that made me feel that you were concerned” is more likely to be useful than “That was good”.

6. Own the feedback

It can be easy to say to the other person “You are…”, suggesting that you are offering a universally agreed opinion about the person. In fact all we are entitled to give is our own experience of that person at a particular time. It is also important that we take responsibility for the feedback we offer. Beginning with “I”, for example, “I thought that…” or using “In my opinion…”, is a way of avoiding the impression of being the giver of “cosmic judgements” about the other person.

7. Leaving the recipient with a choice

Feedback which demands change or is imposed heavily on the other person may invite resistance, and is not consistent with a belief in each of us being personally autonomous. It does not involve telling someone how they must be to suit us. Skilled feedback offers people information about themselves which leaves them with a choice about whether to act or how to act. It can help to examine the consequences of any decision to change or not to change, but does not involve prescribing change.

Preparation for the trip to Bangladesh/India has gone well.  I am now sat in Dhaka airport waiting for the final flight to Chittagong.  I had a deep tissue massage yesterday which certainly hit all the problem areas, so my body is now ready to begin the training camp.

I have a couple of days doing recces before the team arrive and then we are into a full on schedule of matches and training.  Can’t wait.

I have just received a message from a friend who told me they had whip lash from a skiing injury over Christmas but my sympathy evaporated when he then told me he was off to Switzerland this weekend to ski.

Now two days in to the camp and we have had a rest day with stretching. All recces done and tmw we begin to (Go back over the basics). We have just spoken with another international team who have emphasized a simple game plane (it always should be) and STICK TO BASIC DRILLS.  Hit the ball straight and bowl the ball straight.

Also proud of a number of people this week. My brother and his family for dealing with great adversity.

My son for performing excellently, I am a very proud dad.

Have a wonderful week ahead. I will send a few photos of the training when I can.