Everyone grows up wanting to be the next Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James or Serena Williams. The reality is, that the vast majority of elite athletes play supporting roles in the background. But if the original goal was to be great, how does the coach or manager keep athletes motivated and content with their place? How does a competitive high performing athlete remain focussed, when their teammate is grabbing the headlines? With Phil Handy, assistant coach at the Cleveland Cavaliers, CONQA explores this unique challenge.
After our conversation with Professor Jennifer Chatman from the University of California, Berkeley, we have become entangled in the complexities a leader faces when confronted with a multi-cultural team. With the help of two of South Africa’s greatest sports leaders, we unpack the conversation even further to get to the heart of this unique challenge.
In these modern times, it seems the best teams have every basis covered when it comes to backroom staff. There’s the obvious strength and conditioning expert alongside a mental coach, but rosters are swelling at an alarming rate that we won’t be surprise when teams start employing a designated hairdresser or dog walker for their pampered stars. More people can mean more headaches for a head coach as managing different personalities is a challenge all on its own. With the help of Terry Condon, a man with experience managing teams within teams, CONQA unpacks the unique skillsets required to be a modern manager.
They say an army marches on its stomach and the same could be said for an elite NFL team. The Dallas Cowboys have a new member in their ranks but he’s not responsible for tackling, running or throwing a football. Instead, Scott Senhert, Director of Sports Performance at the Cowboys, is tasked with the job of making sure the hulking footballers eat right. As he explains to CONQA, this is often easier said than done.
The world might be hurtling towards a hegemonic global village, but it’s not there yet. Multiple cultures, worldviews, identities and philosophies permeate throughout every facet of society and sometimes, coalescing individuals under a unified ethos can be a challenge for even the most astute leaders. With Professor Jennifer Chatman at the University of California, Berkeley, CONQA explores the challenges of managing a diverse team.
The Crusaders are just four matches away from completing a remarkable unbeaten season in Super Rugby. Their success has been built on an innovative approach to maintaining and increasing fitness as the long gruelling season has progressed. CONQA speaks to Simon Thomas, head off strength and conditioning at the franchise.
Another global tournament, another humiliating early exist from South Africa as the Proteas once again succumbed to pressure and played far below their usually high standards. But fear not; this will not be an exploration of that crushing defeat to India but rather a viable solution to any athlete or team struggling with the vice grip of pressure.
In an exclusive interview, CONQA sat down with the Chief of the Singapore Sports Institute to discuss the small nation’s ambitious plan to be recognised not only as a host to the world, but as a force to be reckoned on courts, tracks, fields and in pools around the world.
Who’d be an elite coach? The merry-go-round at the top can be a daunting prospect for any manager and in this line of work, even the very best get the axe. But as we see time and time again, appointing a new manager often has an immediate positive impact on the team. Maybe there is some logic behind the madness. Two experts in their field with decades of experience help CONQA unpack the effect new managers have on teams and find ways to replicate that for those who are trying to keep their job.
The South African Blitzboks need at least a Cup quarterfinal appearance in each of their remaining two tournaments to be crowned champions of the 2016-17 World Rugby Sevens Series. However, such premature talks of titles can prove derailing and in an exlusive interview with CONQA, coach Neil Powell explains how his team is maintaining their focus.
Ground breaking work being done out of a UK based company is set to change the way we look at human performance forever. By measuring brain waves and mapping them against performances on the field, elite sport is on the verge of measuring the unmeasurable concepts such as form, mindset and psychological well-being of athletes.
At what point does the integrity of competition become tarnished by the intrusion of science? Elite sport’s mission is to push the boundaries of human performance, but if those boundaries are bridged by variables beyond the realm of physical ability, does sport lose its purpose? With the help of world renowned sports scientist Ross Tucker, CONQA addresses these important questions.
After making history with Leicester City last season, Claudio Ranieri is now out of a job after the Foxes parted ways with the Italian manager after a woeful defence of their English Premier League Crown. Half a world away, a cricket coach offers a sympathetic voice. Paddy Upton, coach of several cricket sides around the globe including the Sydney Thunder, helps CONQA unpack the struggles a championship winning coach can go through.
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.
Modern day sport is a monstrous machine that is driven by money in order to churn out results. That is an inescapable truth. So why then has there been so much pushback from traditional powerhouses of football at the rise of RB Leipzig in the German Bundesliga and the exorbitant amount of money being spent in the Chinese Super League. CONQA explores the hypocrisy in modern sport.
The world game’s global showpiece is set to expand from 32 to 40 teams as of the 2026 edition, a decision that has divided opinion across the world. Here, two writers with very different opinions weigh in on the debate and offer compelling arguments for both sides of the divide.
We spend roughly 23 minutes of every hour at work trying to move people in a certain direction. We might be driven by selfish motives or we might be altruistic in nature. Either way, the process of exerting influence over another human being is something we spend close to half of our working time trying to accomplish. Tom Bird, best-selling author and speaker on the art of influence, speaks to CONQA and outlines the key attributes a leader must possess in order to influence people. As you would imagine, there is no one size fits all model but by following a general formula, anyone can become influential.
Rather than look back on the year that was, CONQA Sport is casting an eye on 2017 and calling on the powers that be to make some changes to improve the games we love. In the cutthroat world of top level sport, stagnation is suicide and so, along with some of the leading figures in the industry, we have compiled a 2017 wish list for a happy and elite new year.
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.
In elite sport, all athletes are equal; some however are undoubtedly more equal than others. In a world where human beings are separated by their abilities on the field, is it fair to treat everyone equally? Is this egalitarian utopia even worth pursuing? Would this approach negatively impact the creativity and flair of star athletes and how can coaches navigate this dilemma without alienating the rest of the squad? CONQA Sport explores these questions and more.
If something is broken it must be fixed. How a coach or manager seeks to do so can either steady the ship or send it to the brink much sooner than anticipated. Wholesale changes might grab headlines and demonstrate that the person in charge is being proactive, but almost always it is much wiser to implement incremental changes to steadily improve every facet of performance.
In a somewhat unprecedented move, this summer’s South African. domestic T20 competition will go ahead without a title sponsor – unless something drastically changes in the next few weeks. This sheds some light on cricket’s relevance and the country’s economic climate, but that does not mean all hope is lost. Antoinette Muller from the Daily Maverick explores this thorny issue which can be viewed as a microcosm of the broader financial narrative in the nation in particular, and the globe in general.
Golf is the most popular sport for people 50 years and up. Makes sense right? Golf is mostly taking a pleasant stroll through manicured fields interspersed with the occasional swing of a lightweight stick. Obviously professional golfers are getting more and more athletic but where else do you find a fully professional Senior Tour? Well it turns out that the twilight years come much sooner for female golfers and more and more young women are dominating the game. CONQA Sport examines the societal reasons behind the phenomenon and finds that they are more worrying than first imagined.
Long before sport turned professional, elite athletes have acted as ambassadors for the societies they represent. As such, they have been labelled as role models and moral compasses whether or not they are deserving of those titles. But is this fair? Do we as the public hold our athletes to impossible standards not reserved for any other industry? How does being a role model impact performance and is the status even worth pursuing? CONQA Sport answers these questions and more.
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.
If succeeding as an elite athlete was easy, we’d all be doing it. So many variables have to go exactly right for a young talent to make it to the top. Hard work, struggle, sacrifice; talent means nothing if a young prospect is not willing to go the extra mile. But if what if the key to success meant going further than a mile? What if the path to greatness lay outside the boundaries of one’s home country and was paved in a foreign land? CONQA Sport explores why youth development needs travel and why so many young English footballers are unwilling to leave the nest.
Every year, new teams are crowned champions over a wide spectrum of sports, but there are only a handful that will forever echo throughout eternity as conquerors. The Brazilian footballers of the 1960s, the West Indian cricketers of the 1970s and ‘80s, the current New Zealand All Blacks who dominate rugby union; these reigns, as mighty as they appear, pale in comparison to an empire that stretches back to the very beginning. US Swimming has exerted a stranglehold on their sport since the first Olympic Games and haven’t let go since. Thanks to a dominant mindset, they won’t be letting go any time soon.
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.
We all know the story of Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s, right? How, using maths, the second poorest team in Major League Baseball went on a record-breaking winning streak and changed the way baseball scouts and general managers operated. The story was turned into a Hollywood blockbuster and the word ‘Moneyball’ became synonymous with statistical analysis in sport. Well, a similar story is underway in football. By combining the roles of head of scouting and head of analysis, Daniel Stenz is changing the game. CONQA Sport spoke with Stenz ahead of his move to the Hungarian Football Federation.