Monday, 31 August 2015

Performance Workshops

Next month we'll be running a couple of workshops at the Ferrycarrig Hotel in Co Wexford, one aimed at athletes of all levels who are looking to improve performance, and the other targeted at coaches of high performance athletes, particularly those who coach performance athletes within a mixed ability group.

Thinking like a high performance athlete: a seminar for aspiring sports people 7:30-9:30pm, Oct 15; €10/€5 (includes free entry into draw for useful resources)

This seminar will explore some of the lifestyle and sports science practices used by high performance athletes, and explore ways in which you can integrate them into your training and competition. Topics to be covered will include, but are not limited to:
  • Planning for performance – Goal setting, time management and decision making to improve performance
  • Looking after your health – An introduction to the Female Athlete Triad, eating disorders, mental health issues, burnout, anaemia, immune function and dental health
  • High performance sleep and recovery
  • Building your support network
  • Anti-doping issues – Anti-doping issues which athletes of all levels should be aware of will be outlined.
Competitive athletes aged 15 or older, of all abilities who would like to improve their performance are welcome to attend. The workshop is open to athletes from team and individual sports. Coaches and parents are also welcome to attend.

Supporting the high performance athlete: a special forum for coaches 6:30-9:30pm, Oct 19; €25

Do you coach high performance athletes as part of a mixed ability group? Are you unsure of how to support their special needs? Would you like the opportunity to meet and learn from other coaches in similar situations?

This session will provide coaches of high performance athletes with the opportunity to discuss challenges they face, to share experience and knowledge and to discuss best practice. Topics covered include:
  • An introduction to the special health concerns of the high performance athlete: mental health issues, eating disorders, the female athlete triad, anti-doping issues, burnout, injury, etc.
  • Building a support network and working within an interdisciplinary team.
  • Real life concerns: long term athlete development; athletes moving on; burnout and dropout; integrating high performance athletes into a mixed-ability group; managing packed competition schedules.
  • Lifestyle support: how the coach can help.  Will look at lifestyle balance, goal setting, time management, planning, managing transitions, decision making, dual careers, retirement and exam stress.
This session is aimed at the coaches of high performance athletes, particularly those who support high performance athletes as part of a mixed ability group. Experienced and inexperienced coaches are welcome.

We would appreciate if you reserve your place in advance via email. Payment on the night.

About the facilitators
Elizabeth Egan has more than 10 years’ experience working with high performance athletes from a range of individual and team sports. She specializes in lifestyle and personal development support for development and student-athletes, and has worked on two successful sport scholarship programmes in the UK. She has published an altitude training travel guide (Notes from Higher Grounds) and her PhD looked at the causes and consequences of menstrual dysfunction in female athletes.

Jenny Higgins is a 2014 Sport and Exercise Science graduate from University of Limerick. She has completed several research internships in the area of physical activity and diet including research in hydration, post-exercise recovery, body composition and the influence of exercise on metabolism & health. She is now pursuing a PhD looking at the interaction of diet and training on bone health in athletes.

Ciara Wilson holds a degree in PE & Biology from DCU, where she was a sports scholarship recipient, and has spent the last 2 years teaching. She is the Schools Participation Officer for the charity Cycle Against Suicide, and has an interest in a wide variety of sports. Ciara has just started a PhD at DCU.

All three have competed at a national level, have coaching experience and are passionate about supporting talented athletes in their pursuit of excellence.

Further information and news relating to these workshops will be posted here and on Facebook.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Transferable skills

Athletes who have been training full time their whole adult life often find it difficult to find a job once they retire. Without relevant experience in the working world, they may rely on transferable skills to give them a boost. Too often, however, we see CVs with skills listed as: ‘passion, teamwork, hardworking, works off own initiative’, or something along those lines. Show me somebody that couldn’t list those as skills!

When applying for graduate entry jobs, or roles that you don’t have specific work-based experience for, you need to think about your ‘super strengths’ or unique selling points. Think about qualities and skills that you have which will separate you from applicants and think about clear examples of where you’ve demonstrated these skills or qualities.

Useful frameworks to build examples around are ‘Challenge, Strength, Result’ or ‘Problem, Action, Result’. What problem or challenge were you faced with? What action did you take, and what was the result of your actions?

Some transferable skills that you might possess as an athlete include the following:

Self improvement
Many athletes, particularly those who have been striving for perfection for a number of years, are committed to personal development and self-improvement. Those looking for marginal gains are often self-critical (in a positive way), willing to accept feedback, aware of blind spots and dedicated to making improvements in all aspects of their performance. These skills and qualities can be useful in a variety of roles.

Problem solving and working with others to overcome a challenge
We don’t always think of the sporting field as a problem-solving environment, but think about the decisions that you and your team have to make on a regular basis in a high pressured environment. Overcoming an injury and putting together a rehabilitation plan may demonstrate problem solving skills, as may addressing defensive issues as a team, or adapting tactics following a last minute injury to a key player.  Putting forward suggestions, listening to others suggestions, devising a plan, reflecting on common goals, and following direction are just some of the important aspects of the problem solving process.

Communication skills
Being able to communicate with a variety of individuals in a variety of positions, is often something that employers look for. Think about all the people that you communicate with on a regular basis and how you communicate with them. Athletes often develop mature relationships with adults and people in authority from an early age. The coach-athlete relationship is one often reflects employer-employee relationships. The way in which athletes communicate with funders or sponsors, national governing bodies, appeals committees, and the media tends to be similar to the communication styles required in worked-based situations. Managing relationships with teammates is similar to managing relationships with colleagues. Any experience you have mentoring young athletes or less experienced teammates, coaching or officiating, or making guest speaker appearances will further demonstrate an ability to communicate with a diverse range of people. Make a map of who you communicate with on a regular basis, the roles that those people fill, and the ways in which you communicate with them.

Few athletes reach the top of their sport without demonstrating resilience and an ability to repeatedly overcome setback. Think about how appealing your ability to refocus, reassess goals and adapt your methods following setbacks, and your ability to continue to work towards your ultimate aim, no matter what life throws at you, would be to a potential employer.

Commitment to excellence
The ability to demonstrating a commitment to excellence is likely to be appreciated by many employers. Those who demonstrate a commitment to excellence in their sport are likely to commit to excellence in other aspects of their lives. Wanting to be the best you can be, taking ownership of you life in order to achieve excellence, and being able to build a support team around yourself who also want to excel are abilities which are desirable in most work settings.

These are just some examples of skills that you may have developed as an athlete which may appeal to potential employers. Think about the things that you do in your sporting life, and how the skills and qualities required to be a top athlete can be applied to the workplace. Remember to think outside of the box and to avoid vague terms such as passion, teamwork and hardworking, unless you have very specific examples which separate you from the 99% of other applicants who will also list these skills on their application form.