This year the annual LLS Coaching Conference saw elite members of the sporting world descend upon Liverpool Hope University to deliver talks to current LLS students. Each guest represented a different sector of the sports industry and gave insight into their own journey within the industry itself.
Our opening speaker was Tom Bates, a Performance Psychologist and UEFA A Licence Coach whose CV includes performance coaching roles at Bournemouth, Birmingham City, West Bromwich Albion, Brentford and most recently Aston Villa. On a day which was designed to show students the various pathways available to them in the sports industry if they apply and believe in themselves, Tom’s opening talk couldn’t have been more fitting to kick the day off.
He began by introducing the students to the field of sports psychology, triumphing the importance of mindset and belief within sport when striving for results. A brief video followed, featuring top athletes such as Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson, who endorsed the importance of sports psychology and the power of mindset and its effects upon performance. With the words of sporting champions ringing in their ears, there was one quote which stood out from the rest: ‘the minute difference between defeat and victory can be found in the recesses of the mind’.
It was a point which Tom focused upon during his rousing talk with the students; emphasising the importance of self-belief in sport, encouraging the students to believe in themselves when seizing opportunities. His own personal tale of how he began his sports psychology career whilst at University is reflective of how self-belief and a positive mindset can bring opportunity and success. Tom described how he managed to set up a meeting with a member of Bournemouth Football Club’s hierarchy in the hope of engineering a placement for his University course. ‘I decided I was going to make this happen’ he said, ‘and out of nothing, I created an opportunity.’ His message therefore was a powerful one, as his own career pathway has been made as a result of the messages he was delivering to the students!
After accentuating the benefits of a positive mindset, Tom went on to also outline the benefits of setbacks and how they can be used to the students’ advantage. Using Lionel Messi as a prime example of how to utilise setbacks in order to improve, Tom showed the students that there is a silver lining within every knock back. When Messi arrived at Barcelona he frequently trained with older age groups, was often out muscled, losing the ball frequently despite having the ball control for which he is now so well known. Tom commented saying ‘coaches encouraged him to rectify his mistakes; you learn that mistakes and setbacks don’t define your potential. Persistence however, does.’
This piece of advice was hugely beneficial for our young aspiring coaches, who face daily challenges when delivering sessions in their respective placements. It showed them that the mistakes they may make, and the difficulties they may face as they begin their careers as sports coaches help them prepare and improve their skills. Finally, Tom rounded off his talk by saying that ‘Elite athletes hate to lose, but they are not afraid of losing, they dare to lose in order to succeed’, and thus encouraged our students to challenge themselves and not to be scared of making mistakes, as it in fact helps to improve during their careers path.
Overall, Tom set a fantastic tone for the day and encouraged our young learners to have faith in themselves as they grow in their coaching careers. His inspiring words gave an insight into the vast world of sports psychology and left our students feeling excited and motivated about their coaching careers to come!
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The LLS Team