A view from director of rugby Rowland Winter
My weekends are balanced perfectly between the excitement of Coventry’s league campaign and the action-packed, fun-filled hour on a Sunday morning coaching my son’s Under-6 age group at Kettering Rugby Club.
Whilst they might seem poles apart, there are lots of similarities. At both clubs, my coaching philosophy and approach is still underpinned by the same mindset of performance.
In both teams, I aim to create an environment where players feel they can rise to a challenge and have the mindset to achieve rather than have a fear of failure. The environment, the team culture, and my own approach is focused around playing to win, rather than playing not to lose.
When you play with a focus of not losing, your energy is not on what you can gain, it’s focused on protecting what you’ve already got. You limit yourself and become guarded against the threat you face.
When you play to win, you have ambition in all you do, you are breaking new ground, creating opportunities and proactively tackling the challenge you face. You may not win all the small battles, but you are heading in the right direction overall.
At Coventry, we avoid easy training sessions. Our mindset must be consistent throughout. As a result, our training content is designed to provide competitive game situations that will create regular opportunities to empower the players and encourage them to tackle the challenges. The stresses and challenges that are found in each game are then far easier to overcome when they arise.
Research suggests that when players are challenged to rise to the occasion, they perform better then when they are threatened to not blow it. Challenged players tend to focus on the prize for success, while threatened players focus on the consequences of failure.
This quite simple mindset can often be the key factor in succeeding with creating a winning team of consistent performers over a longer period of time.