How did it go yesterday? 

This will sound dumb, but I am probably one of the worst people to ask that question. I don’t say this to be obtuse, but in a performance setting there are often outcomes that occur that fit into two categories that you cannot become overly emotionally attached to. Pass or Fail are your options. And while this sounds harsh the ability to have extreme clarity is much more valuable than to have ambiguity about the outcome. Now I would say that the task that you have to adopt when it comes to evaluating that outcome is to become religious about learning from both outcomes, pass or fail. And whilst a fail may seem negative to be an outcome it is often a much better scenario for learning than a pass. On most measures that would appear to be the complete opposite of what you want but it is easier to identify the areas for growth when the outcome is not optimal, than when it is. And typically the motivation is much greater for the athlete to maintain the status quo when they have on the surface appeared to succeed. However this is always relative to their ultimate goals, and for many of the athletes and myself the bar is often set so high that seeking opportunities for growth is required at all times if we want to reach such lofty heights. 

But enough with my ramblings. With ⅚ athletes competing progressing to the next round we would have to say that as a group it was a resounding pass mark. And for the athlete that did not progress, they were able to achieve a season’s best, which whilst they would have wanted to progress, it is nice to see improvement in performance. I will say that the most enjoyable part of yesterday was not the progressions but actually the conversation I had with the athlete that did not progress. Their approach to the result, the pursuit of improvement and ability to see this open communication about their ongoing desire for growth was exceptional. And I guess that is what comes with building trusting relationships in an environment that can be high stress and emotionally charged. 

Recently I have been working hard to improve a number of areas relating to psychological preparation and processes. Building strategies to establish an environment where growth is seen as the preset condition. In all situations, at all times the idea that will prevail is ‘what can I learn from this?’. 

And this is not something that comes naturally, and has to be fostered through establishing trust with people. This journey has led me to several resources and I have quite enjoyed engaging with some of the work of Dr Paul Zak. He is a Professor of Economic Sciences, Psychology & Management Director at the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University. His work highlights many concepts about building trust in relationships, the neurobiological underpinnings and why it is important to foster a culture of autonomy, vulnerability and openness to developing relationships that are not entirely related to the performance. To get a view on this head to the following article

Why am I talking about trust? Well as I mentioned if you would like to create an environment where communication is clear, unambiguous and able to identify the areas for growth, there needs to be a relationship between the members of the team to understand that when feedback is given, ideas are put forward and constructive critiques provided, they are provided with empathy. True empathy, not the non-actioned sympathetic kind, but the type of empathy that means you are motivated to help the other person achieve what they are after even when it is difficult to discuss or hard to explore under performance or injury outcomes. When this type of empathy is demonstrated by members of the group, it becomes much clearer that a true relationship exists and that you have the best interests of each other in mind. 

So where to from here? 

Today, as they say, is Super Saturday. We have the 100m and 400m finals, along with a host of other huge events, so it will be a busy day. In terms of the aims for today, well obviously without question it is always to win, to execute the race plan and to extract the best out of yourself. But in the case that this does not happen, we will be ready to discuss what we need to do to get better, because as we all know, the game never ends. 

Check in tomorrow for an update on morning 3 of the competition for our team. 

John Nicolosi 

Physiotherapist / Director of Melbourne Athletic Development and Head Coach for MAD Track Team.