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Coaching & Development, Data & Innovation, Human Performance, Leadership & Culture, Performance | Jul 9, 2020
The second day delved into coaching in the modern high performance landscape and the increasingly prominent question of wellbeing in the workplace.

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The second day of Virtual Leaders Meet: Total High Performance saw no let up in the high performance insights from the world of sport and beyond.


By John Portch

Once again, Leaders Performance Institute members from far and wide logged on, this time to listen to best practice insights from the Atlanta Falcons, Anaheim Ducks, Deloitte and our event partners the UFC.

When the pandemic put paid to the 2020 Leaders Sport Performance Summit in Las Vegas, which was due to take place this week at the UFC Performance Institute, the Leaders Performance Institute worked with our event partners, EPIC Risk Management and the aforementioned UFC, as well as main sponsors Keiser, to create a virtual event that delivered the levels of shared knowledge and insight to which you have grown accustomed.

“We are here to create a world that enables the high performance community to out-perform,” host Michael Caulfield reiterated at the start of the day. “We want to provide any and every opportunity to learn, grow and develop.”

Whether you were able to attend or not, we hope these takeaways will help you to begin to achieve that aim; and we sincerely hope to see you all in the near future.

Read the key insights from Day 1 here.

Coaching Class: Exploring the Modern High Performance Coaching Landscape

Speakers: Dan Quinn, Head Coach, Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Eakins, Head Coach, Anaheim Ducks

We kicked off the first morning session with a comparison between the coaching environments in the NFL and NHL. To that end we drafted in Dan Quinn was appointed Head Coach of the Atlanta Falcons in 2015 and led them to Super Bowl LI as NFC champions in 2017, and Dallas Eakins, who just completed his maiden season as Head Coach of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. Both have been impacted by the pandemic, which formed a major part of the discourse. Here is a summary of their observations:

  • Now is the time to double down and teams that stay attuned will have a chance to do something special next season. It is constant pushing and pulling. Remind them of the sacrifices made by their families the competition at the highest level – there is always a player ready to take your uniform.
  • Virtual learning has been a good opportunity to customise learning for players and to optimise opportunities for questions and feedback. Suggest your rookie players enter the building with a playing mentor whom they can periodically turn to for advice.
  • The pandemic has taught young athletes greater self-sufficiency. For example, as Eakins explains, the Ducks’ players have learnt to cook or work on their own. It is sensible to control some matters in performance but self-sufficiency breeds confidence and competence.
  • This period also presents a good opportunity for peer to peer feedback without coaches as players communicate with each other. This has been an unintended benefit. Coaches will take back the reins but athletes setting goals for themselves or choosing a priority has benefited their development.
  • This has also been a perfect time to fail. The Falcons in particular practised their teaching, particularly video coaching, and it did not always go smoothly, but coaches learnt and improved.
  • The Falcons also rely on three pillars to put a framework of clarity around their team culture:

1. Ball – your learning, deliberate practice. Everything that helps a player to fulfil their potential.

2. Battle – creating an environment that normalises stress and pressure.

3. Brotherhood – we are all connected and an extension of one another.

Be Well: Creating a Culture of Wellbeing Within an Elite Level Organisation

Speaker: Jen Fisher, Chief Well-Being Officer, Deloitte

For our second session, Jen Fisher joined us live from Miami to discuss her work as Deloitte’s first Chief Well-Being Officer – a role she created for herself in 2015 having identified gaps in the company’s wellbeing-based support. Fisher’s day to day sees her driving Deloitte’s strategy around work-life balance, health and wellness in order to empower their people in all aspects of their lives. She took to the stage to draw out the lessons for the world of sport.

  • As people shift to remote working norms – the ‘new now’ – they are starting to put their health and wellbeing first – but these should be a priority at all times, not just in times of crisis.
  • Until a vaccine is found or at least until there are more answers than questions, people at Deloitte will be given the choice to work from home or come back to an adapted office based on their personal circumstances and health considerations. The work environment is not going to return to the way it was.
  • Identify what you need to be productive at work and engaged in life. Be intentional in setting boundaries, scheduling your downtime and finding flexible ways to work. It can be hard but you need understand what your day needs to look like in terms of work environments, your team, and personal wellbeing.
  • Stigmas around remote and flexible working are beginning to fall away as we’re challenged in ways we’ve never been challenged before. We need to increase our empathy, compassion and remember that everyone is dealing with a different situation.
  • Give yourself permission to feel anxious or worried; learn to recognise the signs. You don’t have to be ‘doing and solving’ all the time, as that can really hide what’s going on with your mental health. Reach out to friends or family and do not feel ashamed to seek professional help if need be.

Training for the Octagon: Coaching & Training UFC Athletes for Competition Performance

Speaker: Forrest Griffin, Vice President of Athlete Development, UFC

We were meant to be at the UFC Performance Institute this week and it felt fitting to wrap things up with a presentation by UFC Hall of Famer Forrest Griffin. In his current role, as the UFC’s website says, Griffin is: “responsible for developing and executing key athlete-based initiatives, as well as supporting the conception, expansion, and implementation of athlete summits, aimed at assisting current and former UFC athletes with enhancing their life skills outside of the Octagon”.

To bring down the curtain on a successful summit, Griffin explored best practices in coaching as well as athlete preparation and feedback through his own reflections and with reference to footage from various UFC fights.

  • As a fighter, you want people around you that make you mellow. They choose their corner people based on personality types and people that put them at ease. Its more about being confident and having people that don’t make you anxious.
  • Some athletes don’t want multiple voices or two coaches speaking at the same time but it will work for some fighters. You only have so much influence as a coach and it is all part of the process of knowing your athlete and their needs. Reiteration from secondary and tertiary corner people help to reinforce messages.
  • Past relationships can be essential as a frame of reference. If you can relate back something you’ve drilled or debriefed then you’re going to place your fighter in good stead.
  • What is going to build confidence in your fighter and reduce risk of injury? That has to be the main lens through which coaches prepare fighters.

But wait, there’s more

Virtual Leaders Meet: Total High Performance: The Key Insights – Day 1 features learnings from the likes of the San Antonio Spurs’ Brian Wright, the Philadelphia Eagles’ Howie Roseman, Google’s Abeer Dubey and the English Institute of Sport’s Craig Ranson.

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