Support Systems in Sport Lead to Better Performance

Relationships are another vital component to the holistic health approach. 

HEALTHY Relationships are the key to...well, everything.

We are wired to connect with others since the day we were born. We thrive in groups and a tribe where we feel we belong.  We can’t think back to any time of success, disappointment, growth, or hardship where we didn’t need those close relationships and support systems to celebrate with or to lean on. Can you?

We realize how important our relationships and support systems are in times of hardship but in turn makes us appreciate these people on a day to day basis. We are all here to help each other become better versions of ourselves because we all have different strengths to share and weaknesses to work on. In order to see these, we need those strong relationships for people to support us when we’re right, challenge us when we’re wrong and help us grow in the in between.

It’s great to have your “GO-TO” people in different scenarios. If you’re going through a tough time at school or you’re fighting with your best friend, whatever the situation may be, there is always that person you can go to who can provide stable support in a time when you feel as though you might make a decision or say something that is based on heightened emotion. TALK IT OUT! The more clear and honest we are with each other, the better communication we have, the more we feel understood and the better relationships we have.

Talking it out with friends, family, mentors, colleagues, teachers, coaches, anyone you can rely on can reduce the stress and allow for clearer thought processes. What else can it help us with? Our performance. You guessed it, in life AND sport. One of the most compelling studies of athlete performance was conducted by Penny Wurthner on the 2008 Canadian Olympic team. The study found the most significant contributor to a medal winning performance or personal best was a productive Coach athlete relationship.

The study consisted of interviews with 27 Olympic and Paralympic athletes and 30 Coaches which were then analyzed. The study found there were five distinguishing factors standing out and exhibited by the athletes who delivered Olympic personal best or medal winning performances.

Five Key Themes for Success

  1. The Coach Athlete relationship: where a mutual trusting and respectful relationship exists between the Coach and athletes. Each knows what to expect from the other (predictability), they understand how the other communicates, the environment they work best in and how to maximize their strengths in the context of their sport.

  2. High level Athlete self-awareness: (Relationship with YOURSELF) the degree to which an athlete understands how they behave, what their strengths and limitations are, what motivates them and how to adapt their behavior to produce more effective outcomes.

  3. Quality of the training environment: this includes aspects such as athletes’ equipment, strength and conditioning programs and overall facilities used.

  4. The management of the competition environment: this relates to how well planned the competition environment was logistically and how difficult circumstances were managed so they would not limit the athlete’s performance.

  5. Support mechanisms: people in the athlete’s life. Everyone from family and friends to staff surrounding the athletes such as doctors, massage therapists, nutritionists, trainers, physiotherapists.

Out of this study the coach athlete relationship and the support mechanisms were the most important factors leading to winning performance. So, we challenge you to look around - are you in an environment that lifts you up to create these positive results? Keep those who lift you around you :)

Jess Rocheleau

RISE Blog Contributor