Are hierarchies inevitably formed whenever a group of individuals unite for the purpose of a common goal? Do they represent key structural components for a successful organisation or do they hinder progress and lead to cliques and discontent amongst the ranks? These are just some of the answers we tackle with mental skills coach Tom Dawson-Squibb.
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The true test for any elite athlete is bouncing back from adversity. For the Lions half back pair of Elton Jantjies and Faf de Klerk, the climb up from last season’s poor showing with the national side will be an arduous journey. With high performance coach, Tim Goodenough, CONQA explores the process of rebuilding confidence to return to the top.
It’s a throwaway term for pundits and scribes whenever a coach bumbles his way through a press conference after his team has lost another game, but what does “losing the dressing room” actually mean? CONQA Sport explores this fascinating concept and calls on two legends in their field to help out. Next time you hear this phrase, you will have a better understanding of its meaning and nuance.
Two giants of world sport have recently felt the painful bump of reaching bedrock and now have to make some dramatic changes if they want to taste the glories of the past. South African rugby and Australian cricket sides used to command respect from opposition by virtue of their dominance. Today they are both facing unprecedented crises. CONQA Sport offers a way out for both of these once proud juggernauts.
Every single one of us gets lambasted for a job poorly done from time to time. Criticism can severely impact performance but luckily for most of us, the amount of people who have access to our shame is very small. Imagine that all your work, good or bad, was public knowledge. Imagine that everyone with a smartphone could vent how terrible they thought you were at your job. Imagine newspapers, radio stations and online blogs were about to call you out for a perceived ineptitude to millions of people around the world. Now you have a taste of what being an under fire head coach of an elite sports team feels like when results aren’t going their way. CONQA Sport explores how owning and directing the narrative can help coaches navigate these difficult times.
Change takes time, and more often than not is a difficult and arduous process. In the realm of elite sport, a ruthless industry to begin with, change often means sacrificing results in order to change course and head in a new direction. For the Springboks, South Africa’s proud national rugby team, a change in identity has coincided with a dramatic downturn in performances. Naturally, the media and public are up in arms, but should they be showing a touch more patience and understanding? CONQA Sport unpacks this rebuilding phase that South African rugby is going through and offers a sympathetic and measured view on the situation.
What is it about certain sports fans that compel them take success for granted? Is it simply the desire to see your team succeed that obscures the truth, or is it something more complex? Once a nation or club enjoys a spell of dominance, expectations rise and leave a high water mark for future generations. Unfortunately, the natural ebb and flow of success means that on field performances do not always match expectations. CONQA Sport explores how accomplished legacies often breed entitlement.
Allister Coetzee has been appointed the 23rd Springbok rugby coach and has immediately sought to establish an era marked with youth and excitement. With an average age of just under 26 years, this is a team that might lack experience but has all the potential for something truly great. What Coetzee will need to do is unify all 31 players under a single ethos – perhaps the most challenging task for any head coach or manager of a national team.
Nothing divides opinion in elite sport like the selection of a team before a major tournament. Everyone has their favourite combination of players and anyone who contradicts them is not only wrong, but an insult to the game they love. Roy Hodgson, manager of England’s national football team, has a tough choice to make: whether or not to include Wayne Rooney in his plans for European domination. It’s a tough decision to make, and one that will depend on more than purely footballing reasons
Every week there seems to be another example of sport and politics mixing in an unsavoury fashion. Whether it is one more FIFA delegate being implicated in a corruption scandal or a star athlete accused of doping, it would appear to be a given that sports articles feature on both the back and front pages of newspapers. But perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. CONQA Sport explores the often tumultuous relationship between sport and politics and discovers that if history is anything to go by, these two key representations of the human identity will forever be linked.
Every job, no matter how glamorous, can get tedious from time to time. So then how do they do it? How do those elite athletes who reach over 100 caps for their country or compete in multiple Olympic Games stay hungry and focussed over many years in the same sport? Of course the pursuit of glory is a driving factor, and motivation comes easy when things are going well, but every athlete goes through dips in form and enthusiasm. This is when motivation can be used as a tool to set things right. CONQA Sport speaks with Professor Pieter Kruger, Performance Psychologist for the South African national rugby team, the Springboks, and debunks a few misconceptions surrounding sports psychology, and finds how motivation affects performance in elite sport.
"In rugby, men are missiles," so said sports journalist and sexologist Ernest Crawley in 1913. If only he could see them now. As the years have gone by, particularly after the injection of professionalism in the late '90s, those missiles have become nuclear warheads. Monsters crash into monsters for 80 minutes and the pace and force of the game has become relentless. And we love it. But what are the ramifications of the ever increasing forces rugby players exert on each other? Should we, as sports fans, be concerned? CONQA Sport speaks to Paddy Anson, Head of Strength and Conditioning at Gloucester Rugby, and explores the negative impact of expanding athletes. How has it affected the way the game is played and is there a warning from the NFL that rugby should be taking seriously?
Cinderella stories, fairy tale results, no-hopers inspiring hope; whenever an underdog manages to upset a much better and accomplished rival in sport we can’t help but get romantic about the games we love. By its definition, an upset takes us all by surprise and throws egg on the face of so-called experts and allows the few that somehow managed to predict the result to say, “I told you so.” But can we draw any parallels between famous upsets and if so, can we use these common themes to predict future upsets? CONQA Sport explores the blueprint of a sporting upset.
Have you ever wondered why certain countries seem to stand head and shoulders above others in a particular sport? Rasmus Ankersen, CEO of Danish football club FC Midtjylland, travelled across the world to answer that question. He recorded his observations in a book called The Gold Mine Effect: Crack the Secrets of High Performance (2012) and identified certain ingredients that talent hotbeds around the world share. Using the same theories, CONQA Sport explores how a high school in the middle of South Africa can stake a claim as being the most productive gold mine in world rugby.
There are some special athletes around the world that seem impervious to the touch of Father Time. These men and women not only refuse to let the advancing years hinder them; they embrace their age with wisdom, skill, and invaluable experience. One such athlete is Victor Matfield; the imperious South African rugby forward who is not only the most capped Springbok of all time, but at 38, is still one of the most indomitable sportsman on the planet. CONQA Sport explores how older athletes maintain excellence, how they adapt their game, and the emotional maturity that is needed in order to remain at the top.
With two Rugby World Cups, a Cricket World Cup, Formula 1 race wins, golf Major titles, as well as championships and victories in a host of other sports such as netball, football, hockey, tennis, and water polo, Dr Sherylle Calder is arguably one of the most successful individuals in world sport. Her innovative and highly successful programme, EyeGym, has improved the performance of thousands of athletes across the globe. By improving how the eye sees and understands the world around us, the cognitive process of seeing and doing, and then effectively and accurately responding to what is being seen, elite athletes are able to separate themselves from the competition.