Learn How To Perform When It Matters

Performance reflects your psychology

One of the reasons I love this work is because it works. If your goal is to enhance your physical body and you follow a program that is aligned with the laws of physiology you will see results. The same applies to working with the mind. When you understand its mechanics and you follow the rules you will see immediate and long-lasting results.

What are these long-lasting results?

  1. The ability to deliver, under pressure, efficient & effective performances with a degree of certainty and poise.
  2. Making consistent incremental improvements towards fulfilling your potential as an athlete.
  3. Feeling enthusiastic and light before big occasions not fearful and heavy.
  4. Become skilled at transforming your deepest challenges into your most meaningful experiences.
  5. To exit your career with a sense of calm and fulfillment.

Does experiencing these results require effort and a little time?

Of course, but first and foremost it requires the realisation that the work is necessary, once you have this the rest will take care of itself.

Does everyone get there?

If it is important enough to them then yes.

The N.I.C Program

The N.I.C program is a 3 step process that rebuilds your performance mindset from the ground up.

Step 1 – Neutrilse Performance Traps

An athlete’s fears & fantasies are the root of performance-related issues. These perceptions are responsible for the brain operating from its most primitive pain avoidance & pleasure-seeking regions resulting in:

  • volatile swings in performance
  • impulsive decision-making,
  • performance-related anxieties, and
  • issues surrounding confidence, self-worth, and self-belief.

Solution – By holding the athlete accountable to answering a series of questions we can dissolve the emotional charge allowing the athlete to remain rooted in the prefrontal brain regions resulting in higher probabilities of:

  • mission-focused decision making
  • consistent execution of key skills
  • greater levels of emotional control in key moments

Step 2 – Identity – An athlete’s perception of self and their mission

An athlete’s belief about themselves and others has a major impact on how they perform in the moment and over time. Beliefs such as “I am a confidence player” can greatly hinder an athlete from performing at a high level consistently and fulfilling their innate potential.

Solution – Perceived core beliefs about self and others can be transformed within 30 minutes if you know how to ask the right questions and are held accountable for answering them honestly. Transforming your beliefs about yourself and others leads to a profound shift in your identity.

Who you believe you are affects how you perceive the world and therefore how you decide and act. Your identity acts like a type of gatekeeper, admitting or restricting your access to your highest states of potential.

Step 3 – Certainty v Uncertainty – of progress and performance

How a player measures their:

  1. Individual improvement and development throughout the season, and 
  2. Performance in competition over time

Greatly impacts whether they are rooted in Systems 1 or Systems 2 thinking. Why?

The Uncertainty principle

When an objective or goal is set without clear step-by-step actions for its attainment, the brain perceives uncertainty. 

Uncertainty can be interpreted by the brain as a threat which in turn triggers an emotional response, often characterized by anxiety or fear. This emotional arousal prepares the body for a “fight-or-flight” response, increasing vigilance and readiness to respond to potential dangers. 

While this reaction has its place, it is not the wisest place to operate from if looking to make tactical and strategic decisions to attain a particular outcome in the future.

Players and teams often set Improvement and Performance objectives which unwittingly trigger this amygdala response and thereby increase their emotional volatility index rooting them in systems 1 thinking. To understand the effects of Systems 1 and Systems 2 thinking on performance follow the link

Common issues with performance

Playing free in the moment:

Problem– When the mind holds imbalanced perceptions known as philias and phobias (fears and fantasies), we drop into our Amygdala (animal brain) looking to seek an immediate pleasure in the future and avoid a painful trigger from the past. Our ability to play the moment is greatly reduced because we are being run by these painful past memories and future pleasure seeking imaginations. Our mind is not poised or present it is oscillating between past and future.

Solution – Learn how to find and neutralize these fears and fantasies, allowing greater access to the advanced executive regions of the brain and increasing your innate ability to play the moment intuitively and strategically, unfettered by doubts.

This process can be straight forward and results measurable and predictable resulting in immediate feedback from the body and mind.

Performance associated Fear

Problem: Fears associated with performance are rooted in Systems 1 thinking, running away from a perceived pain and simultaneously chasing a perceived fantasy. The content and context will differ but the root cause is constant.

Solution: The 1st step, once again is to learn how to systematically isolate and balance out these stored memories and imagination. Once these imbalanced perceptions are dissolved you will no longer have the desire to seek or avoid the object or event and will instead be free to approach it from a state of objectivity and poise.

-Next, we define what an efficient and effective performance looks like in detail making sure we focus on the controllables and taking into account the specific role played. It’s also crucial the athlete sees meaning and value in this new definition. So often an athlete’s vision of what a “good performance” looks like is littered with unrealistic uncontrollable aspirations that give birth in the mind to fears and fantasies and drop us into our amygdala.

Once the process is complete the athlete will experience a sense of certainty and poise and will begin to reconnect with a feeling of enthusiasm for the challenge instead of a sense of trepidation before a performance and relief in the aftermath.

We apply a process designed to target imbalanced perceptions and balance them. When we see both sides we become nonreactive, objective, centered, reasoned, and better able to respond to a situation because we are rooted in the executive centers of the brain (systems 2 thinking) and not the systems 1 seeking and avoidance areas designed for survival.

Testimonials

I have had the privilege of being coached by Gavin for four seasons and I can confidently say that his dedication, expertise, and passion for the game have truly transformed my overall hockey experience. He is more than just a coach; He is a mentor, a motivator, a great listener, and a true leader both on and off the pitch. What sets Gavin apart is his genuine investment in each player’s development and success. He takes the time to understand our individual strengths and weaknesses, thus tailoring his approach to help us grow both as players and individuals. His passion for sport is infectious, and it’s clear that he genuinely cares about each player’s growth and well-being beyond our performance on the field. In summary, Gavin is not just a good hockey coach; he is an exceptional one. I am incredibly grateful for the impact Gavin has had on my hockey journey, and I wholeheartedly recommend him to anyone seeking a coach who can inspire, motivate, and elevate their performance.

Sinead Connory
Former Irish International Hockey