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Identify and overcome self-limiting behaviours

Identifying and reflecting on self-limiting behaviours benefits players and coaches. Watch Paddy Upton explain more.
PADDY UPTON: I think it’s safe to say that every human being, including you and I, have things that we tend to do, or not do, that can hold us back in some way. That can undermine our success and decrease our joy. Some of these tendencies we might not be proud of. We probably don’t include them on our CV. And we might even be uncomfortable telling a good friend about them. They could include things like the tendency to spend too much time on PlayStation or watching too much TV, getting lost on the internet, drinking, smoking, eating too much, being overly critical of yourself. Maybe taking drugs, gambling, overspending. Taking shortcuts on preparation, over-gossiping, a tendency to cheat or lie, et cetera.
You probably know what your self-limiting tendencies are. The things you could do if you weren’t mindful or careful or disciplined. For example, one of mine if I’m not careful is taking shortcuts on planning, which holds me back and can compromise the teams I coach. When a team member holds him or herself back, this can also hold the rest of the team back. One way to address this sensitive area is to bring these tendencies out of the shadows where we keep them hidden from others, and sometimes from ourselves, and into the light of our awareness. But only your light. I’m certainly not suggesting sharing them with others, unless individuals are totally comfortable to do so.
In this exercise, team members are asked to sit apart from each other with pen and paper. Before proceeding, I make it very clear that this exercise is for the individual player only. It’s for their benefit. And that I won’t ask anyone to share their answers. It’s important that they feel safe, which increases the likelihood of them being honest. The exercise requires them to write down what are the things that I potentially do or don’t do that would lead to me undermining myself and possibly the team? Or more simply, what are the things I do or neglect to do that aren’t good for me?
I explain that I’m talking about those self-limiting or self-defeating tendencies that every person has, including me as coach, and that we tend to keep hidden. I make sure people know that having these tendencies is both normal and OK. And that this is an opportunity to bring them out of hiding and hopefully manage them a little bit better. Players can write in code if they wish, so that no one ever gets to see the answers. For the second part of the exercise, players write down what are the things I can do that will help me avoid these tendencies as far as possible? The final question is, is there any support I might need?
And if so, what is it and who do I ask? Thus, this exercise gets players to identify their self-limiting behaviours or tendencies, come up with strategies to try and prevent them happening, and then get clear on any support they might need. Not all players will get clarity from this exercise, but it’s a start to raising self-awareness in this area, which will benefit them both in performance and in life. And important note here– this might bring some sensitive issues to the surface. I recommend leading this exercise in a sincere and caring manner, avoiding sarcasm, judgements, or insensitive jokes. Remember, you also have the same tendencies– things you might not want your team to know about you or make fun of.
These tendencies are hidden deep within the individual, in the invisible immeasurable top-left quadrant. But they play out often in undesirable behaviour in the top-right quadrant, which others can see. This is the same as the visible on-field skill error that is caused by an underlying and invisible to others thought process. The other thing about many of these tendencies is that they often happen in private, or behind the coach’s back, so it’s the players themselves who need to be aware of and manage them. The better they’re able to do this, the more positive impact they’ll be on their performance and in their life.

Private accountability allows you to identify self-limiting behaviours and implement strategies to minimise them so there’s a positive impact on individual and team performance.

Individuals can be publicly accountable for their decisions and actions and for their plans for developing themselves and their performance.

Private accountability also has a place in the planning phase. As I discuss in the video, self-limiting behaviours can be detrimental to a player’s development and performance, and it’s important that players bring these self-limiting behaviours into the light of awareness, at least to themselves. In this way, players can determine, for themselves, how they might deal with them.

Identifying and reflecting on self-limiting behaviours is not only important for players, it’s also important for you as a coach as it enables you to ensure players are aware of their self-limiting behaviours and know how to address them. Owning self-limiting behaviours can have a positive impact on players and their performance.

Your task

As I discuss in the video, there are a wide range of self-limiting behaviours, and we all engage in them.

In the comments, share how you would raise this with players (students, team members), and some of the benefits of making players aware of their own self-limiting behaviours.

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Player-centred Coaching

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