Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Muscle Memory .... and reflecting on 'performance'

Last weekend myself and three friends went mountain boarding with and had a great afternoon, basically wobbling about on boards on wheels and trying to look cool!

As a snowboarder I was interested to see whether this would translate into good performance or not .... and the answer is ... yes and no!

Yes ...  in that I wasn't fazed by going sideways down a hill on a moving object ... [thank you state management!]

No ...  in that my muscle memory for riding a snowboard kept kicking in and my feet kept coming out of the bindings!

Applying my NLP and Sport Psychology knowledge I spent a lot of my time thinking about what I needed to do, but it was only with reflection that I sorted out what worked and what didn't ... and why!

You see, I have spent so much time 'perfecting' [loosely] the skills of snowboarding that all the micro movements you do to execute any movements are embedded deep in my muscle memory (or as we know it, unconscious competence) and as such, these kept coming to the fore ... but with a mountain board it's the same yet different!

As a consequence I had to consciously think to push my ankles out and stay 'locked' to the board, instead of instinctively knowing what to do, and as such, I spent a lot of time in conscious [relative] competence that when things got a little hairy (and they did, believe me!), I went back to what I knew and as such ended up in the wrong place or worse - flat on my back!

Not only that, my first real wipeout resulted in a very embarrasing rip to my trousers, which was only covered up [literally!] by the very padded shorts the young instructor give me to save my blushes [and probably to save everyone else too - not good to lose customers over something like that!).

Although this was a fun birthday trip for my friend, this is what happens in all sports when we change our stance, alter our grip or need to unlearn a poorly executed skill so we can learn to do that skill more effectively.  The only way we will do this is by making sure the changes are completed at the unconscious level, otherwise we end up going back to what we know ... and in my case, ending up on the floor!

I did feel towards the end that I was getting much better but I was aware of how much conscious thinking was going on - something that I don't do much of when I'm on the snow ...

A good reminder for me of how this process works, and thankfully it wasn't that painful ... physically anyway ... but I know I'm a long way off the unconscious competence I'd need on the mountain board to reach the level I have on a snowboard ... and although I'll definitely return to the grassy version, I'm very happy with my competence on the snow ... and not only that but the apres drinks are far more appealing at 1800 feet plus!!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Going to the OSCA's ...

Are you a volunteer in Sport?


Volunteers and coaches are the lifeblood of all community sport, and without the time, effort and commitment of these people, many clubs, teams and coaching sessions would not be able to run.

In short, volunteers and coaches make sport happen.  Without this amazing group of people, who willingly give a considerable amount of time to enable others to play the sport they love, grassroots sport wouldn’t exist.

I've been involved in Sport for as long as I can remember in one way or another, and because I started an NLP for Sport company aimed at elite sport, people often think that what we do isn't applicable to anyone other than those in professional sport.

But this simply isn't the case.

And how do I know? Because I'm a volunteer in amateur sport too!

As a hockey player, I 'retired' from my sport when I moved to London, thinking that with a new career as a Sport Science lecturer at Roehampton University I wouldn't have the time needed to dedicate to travelling around the country, playing games and of course, all the training involved to stay at the top of your game.

Luckily for me I got 'persuaded' by a colleague to fill in for a side who were short that weekend ... and as a newbie at my University I thought it would earn me brownie points by helping them out!

One game in and five goals to my name I was persuaded to play again the following week ... and the rest is history as they say! I've now been with Old Kingstonian HC for the best part of 20 years and am proud to say that I've held volunteer roles with the club, starting with first team captain, club secretary and now I'm the Club Captain - both an honour and a gobbler of time!

Needless to say, I know from personal experience what goes into making such clubs run smoothly, and the people at our club who selflessly work to ensure we all get to play our sport is tremendous!

I started when we had 3 mens and 'almost'  2 ladies sides.  Now we have 4 mens, 4 womens and over 180 juniors - all playing and training each week throughout the winter - this simply wouldn't be the case if it weren't for those amazing volunteers!

So last night, when we attended 'The OSCA's' - or the Surrey Cricket Board award ceremony for Outstanding Service to Cricket Awards it reminded me just how much goes into sport at all levels, and that regardless of the level, psychology plays a key role.

For the last three years Inside Performance has sponsored The Outstanding Coaching Achievement award which this year was won by Rob Wint of Ashtead Cricket Club - so a big CONGRATULATIONS TO ROB!

When we attended last year, we heard some great stories about people's commitment to cricket and sport in general, so this year we decided to give something extra to help develop those volunteers who don't get sponship money directly to grow their CPD. This is why we are offering a free place on our NLP Diploma this autumn to one lucky person who is a volunteer for a local sports club as a 'Thank You' for the work you do!

To qualify, all you need to do is:

  • Be an unpaid volunteer in ANY sport 
  • Have no previous NLP or Sport Psychology training
  • Be available to attend the three training day at The Kia Oval, Vauxhall on Sept 17-18-19 2014
  • Send the following information to

  1.  Name:
  2. Address:
  3. Tel Number:
  4. Email:
  5. Club you volunteer at:
  6. Occupation:

You'll then go into a draw on AUGUST 13TH 2014 and if your name is drawn at random then you'll be invited to attend.

It's only available on the above dates and it's a non transferable place. Included is three days training, all manuals and attendance certificate, lunch and refreshments but you'll need to provide your own accommodation (if required) and transportation to get there.

Please ensure you complete all info in your email, otherwise your entry will be void.  

So, thank you once more to all of those volunteers, in all sports and from all walks of life - give yourselves a big pat on the back .....

Monday, 4 August 2014

Sand in your toes ...

I've just had a fantastic weekend camping down on the south coast ... sunshine ... sea ... great friends ... and of course, fish and chips in the paper ... can't beat it!

I love the water and I love the sense of freedom and openess that brings  ... you can't beat the feeling that having the sun on your skin and the warm sand in your toes brings as you sit watching everything unfold ...

I'm lucky enough to be godmum (is that a word?) to two amazing kids, and watching them play on the beach and seeing how they function so differently sent me off into differing thoughts about how psychology and the world in general has changed viewpoints over the last 30 odd years ...

The concept of paradigm shifts are common enough thinking in science, particularly with hindsight when people can look back and 'see' where the changes occured. (oh to be able to bottle that as my Mom used to say!!) Paradigm shifts are often misinterpreted or misused as Kuhn suggested, and as a marketing friend informed me recently, got used as a buzzword in the 90's so much so that people became oblivious to its use! 

Interesting how ideas permeate into all sorts of areas and usages ... isn't it?

My sand based musings were more around the idea that certain 'things' come along and bring in a major change in people's thought-patterns. 'Things' that facilitate radical changes in areas such as personal beliefs and values and the consequential and (often) inevitable action and behaviour changes that arise because of these shifts. 

Looking at the kids and pondering on what they're exploring and taking in, moment to moment, adding to their growth and development made me think about the influences in my life and where I've had a paradigm shift due to significant events changing my thinking ... and ok, I'm using the term paradigm shift loosely, but with hindsight that's how they feel, so bear with me on this one ...

... none of us would be who we are without these influences and the shifts that have got us there ... and taking the time to get sand in your toes is an important part of exploring and taking stock of life ... moment to moment ... so we can all continue to grow and develop too ... no matter what age of kids we all are ...

Jung had a lot to answer for ...

Notes on Perception is Projection ...

Carl Jung’s thinking behind “Perception is Projection” is central to the thinking and philosophy of training in NLP … after all, NLP is about modelling excellence (and it’s an excellent idea to model ~ thanks Carl!) and it’s also about understanding your perceptions so you can change or ‘edit’ your projections!

As I said, Perception is Projection has its roots in Jungian psychology, and it suggests that what we see outside of ourselves is, at some level and in some aspects, a reflection of who we are … 

‘Hold the mirror up to yourself and have a good look’ … kind of thing!

Some reflections you like …some you don’t!  … and ain’t that the truth!

Jung says that we all have a shadow self which is made up of the aspects of our personality we don’t like. (MBTI advocates get this or anyone who has taken the NLP Master Practitioner with Inside Performance …)

Sometimes we dislike these aspects so much we repress them and deny that they’re there (think of Freud’s concept of defence mechanisms), and however much we deny their existence, they’re not going away …

To reduce our feelings of discomfort ~ otherwise known as ‘cognitive dissonance’ this repression and denial means they’re outside of our conscious awareness, stored away in our unconscious minds (to us at least) so we can happily ignore them and remain in blissful ignorance!   

Of course, these things will bubble away under the surface, and become apparent through our language, attitudes and behaviours, particularly to someone who has undertaken an MBTI or NLP Practitioner or Master Practitioner Training

We project these disowned parts of our personality onto others, in an attempt to feel better about ourselves and also to avoid the sometimes painful truth…the truth that there are some aspects we could do with sorting out on a personal level too … instead of pointing out these faults and aspects that we think belong to someone else!!

You see, unless we learn to face our own shadows, we will continue to see them in others, because the world outside us is only a reflection of the world inside us. … hold the mirror up …

How much of your time is spent commenting on what someone is doing and whether it’s right or wrong, good or bad?

How often do you find yourself helping or advising others by pointing out what someone ‘should’ improve or what they ‘must’ do to ‘make them better’?

What about we all hold up the mirror and ask … How are these areas related to me? How much of what I comment on in others is really what the mirror reflects back to me? Maybe it’s time to take a more objective look in the mirror to find what is really going on inside? 

Maybe … just maybe … it’s time to discover a bit more about how we can assist ourselves and others by adopting the concepts of Perception is Projection …. and getting under the skin of how this operates within us and what effects it has on what we project time to get that mirror out …