June 2022, Articles

Athlete Life shifts focus to Performance Life coaching

HPSNZs longstanding Athlete Life programme made a fundamental shift earlier this year when it changed its name to Performance Life, reflecting a new approach which sees a move to providing life coaches rather than life advisors.

Head of Performance Life Chris Arthur says the change of focus is aligned to the key wellbeing pillar within HPSNZ’s 2024 Strategy.

“Coaching is a transformational process where individuals take control of the agenda and take responsibility for their development.”

Performance Life coaching is a strategic shift in focus for Chris and her team of 11 who have pivoted to their new role as life coaches for HPSNZ athletes.

“We have been talking about and evaluating the change for 18 months as it became evident athletes wanted to be coached to grow in all aspects of their life,” says Chris.  “Performance Life coaching is predicated on providing athletes with the tools to empower and manage their own performance growth journey, inside and outside the sports environment.”

In the first instance this has meant a concentrated approach to upskilling Chris’ team as they make the shift from advisors to coaches.

“As wellbeing is recognised as a key part of performance, so our team has embraced the opportunity to give athletes more autonomy, through coaching, and we continue to undertake training to facilitate this shift.

“We undertake weekly team coaching sessions with one of the best international sports life coaches, US based Carlette Patterson,” says Chris.  “Her sessions are helping provide the Performance Life team with the confidence to make the shift from advisor to coach, as well as our internal professional development training and peer supervision.”

For athletes the biggest change is the introduction of a wide range of new tools they can use, along with a combination of team workouts and personalised one on one sessions.

“A good example of a new tool is in the area of time and energy management.  Athletes take responsibility for working out when they produce their best performance, how they best manage their energy systems and then use the tools we provide to implement a system that will optimise their own energy rest and recovery,” says Chris.

While it is early days Chris says the initial anecdotal feedback from athletes is great.  “A number of our Performance Life coaches are getting feedback that athletes are enjoying the new challenge which is certainly more rigorous.  They are also feeling a greater sense of ownership as they take responsibility for sessions rather than expecting an advisor to fix things for them.”

The Performance Life team is working to get baseline data to help with effectiveness measurement.  “We need to identify what aspect an athlete is trying to develop and introduce measurement systems which allow them to self-assess and then triangulate this with feedback from other people they nominate.”

Chris says the shift to performance life coach is an exciting space to be in.  “It is a real privilege to be part of this commitment to support our athletes in a way which empowers them now and for their future.   But athletes need to buy into the new approach and they need to do the work – we are there to coach them along the way.”