Coaching an International Athlete
The title of this blog post, whilst accurate, is perhaps a bit overstated: the international athlete concerned is my youngest daughter Lizzie, who is currently playing for the GB Women Under 24 Ultimate Frisbee team in the world championships in Heidelberg. And I have no frisbee coaching skills. But thinking about the various stories that inform her success is helpful. I was thinking that I can lay no claim to being part of her coaching team - unlike her eldest sister, Annie, who is a professional frisbee coach working for Durham University, where Lizzie is studying.
But then I reflected my modesty is overdone; I think there are (at least) two ways in which I have contributed. One is quite tangential: a long time ago, I read the children Ballet Shoes, by E Nesbit. The children were very taken with the heroes, the Fossil children (who were adopted and chose the name Fossil for themselves) declaring that they would make the name famous. They related this to their being the first generation of Plasom-Scott children (the result of my marrying Jane Plasom) and I wonder if this is playing into Lizzie's story now.
But more immediately, I think that I have been directly helpful. Lizzie returned from her first competition with the GB team suffering from a severe bout of Imposter Syndrome: she wasn't really good enough to be on the team... and so on.
And we did some work on that, treating it as an Unhelpful Story that needed to be shifted. So she developed her More Helpful Story: that when she played well, she was a Valuable Member of the Team. And then we worked on how to enrich the plot of that story. The two main things were dedicated practice and fitness time every day, and using an affirmation to re-wire her thinking.
And so far, that seems to be working and she's getting on the scoreboard at the highest international level.