Rugby shirt

As the build-up to this weekend’s rugby final intensifies, the question on everyone’s lips is what the coaches and support staff can do to help their teams achieve the edge and emerge victorious.

Strange as it may seem, the answer is … to keep it simple and do very little at this time.

Continuity is important; the same process, the same team (if injuries allow) and the same way of playing. Changes at this point are the last thing any team needs. The focus must now be on what they do best and not on what the opposition may or may not do.

Confidence is key and everything needs to be focused upon ensuring that every player and every member of the squad is confident and comfortable in what they are good at, what they have to do and when they have to do it.

So the coaching and support team will go through the same drills and process, the week’s plan will repeat the previous weeks, everything will be as normal as possible.

It is very tempting at this stage to do something … anything to make the difference.

Former Scottish rugby union player and coach Sir Ian McGeechan taught me a key lesson here. “Under pressure make sure that you focus upon the basics and that you can deliver them at a world class level and that will make the difference.”

So as a coach – whether in business or in sport - what are the basics that will make your team World Class?

My work and research in this area suggests the following need to come to the fore:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Stay curious and interested
  3. Be trustworthy and trusting
  4. Develop high levels of rapport
  5. Ask questions
  6. Listen to the answers
  7. Deliver excellent feedback to the right people at the right time
  8. Work out your own system…do it your way and do not waste your time living your life like somebody else!

By John Neal, psychophysiologist and a member of faculty and director of the Sport Business Initiative at Ashridge Executive Education, Hult International Business School