Report from Performance Psychologist Charlie Unwin’s Zoom Presentation on 7th Sept 2020

“Mental Fitness for Equestrian Athletes”
So, some salient points from last night:  Firstly, how wonderful to get together with so many like-minded people with such a huge range of experience – and why ever don’t we do it more often?  It’s so stimulating and thought- provoking.  Charlie is a super presenter with endless enthusiasm for his subject and clear thought processes which are all very relevant to us as Coaches.

We started by discussing what it means to be “mentally fit” and then went on a rollercoaster, discussing Resilience, Resonance, a fascinating section on the brain and neural pathway development, Talents and Skills, the role of Self-Esteem, Repetition, Reward, Recovery, Functional Intelligence, Placebos, Trust, Listening, developing “the system”, dealing with nerves, using visualisation, the importance of open questioning… We had our notebooks to hand, and there was so much to absorb.

Reflecting back over the years – and many are possibly my vintage I think! –  many of us (I certainly did) spent a lot of time ‘reinventing the wheel’, so being able to pool our experiences and dilemmas to mutual benefit and intelligently work out the way forward is just so refreshing! I certainly reflected last night on the Talent vs Skills “barcode” – and ‘enhancing what people have, not putting in what they don’t’.
A lot of what Charlie said made me think of Coaches I have worked with in the past and really clarified why the good ones were so good and made the whole learning experience such an exciting journey – measured challenge, positivity, encouragement, enjoyment… although without the initial years of consistent long-term work and practice (demonstrated by Charlie with his Friday effect/ Monday effect graph) would these top coaches have been able to work the same magic?

The word ‘Intelligence’ was used many times during the evening.
Intelligent breakdown in goal setting
Using intelligence to correct technique
Intelligence gets scattered on the floor when you fail to build shelves in the mind to organise
Mechanisms in the brain that add meaning to experience
Helping our clients have meaningful experiences
In an intelligent ‘approach’ the rider is part of the process

Charlie gave such solid reasoning for not over repeating / over working – applying to both riders and horses – and the importance of coaching the rider off the horse, using time out of the saddle, which has become ever more evident, whether it’s the psychological aspect or the physical fitness and suppleness.

Thank you so much F&I, Mandy Holloway and especially Charlie for a really stimulating evening.☀️

And some of the feedback from appreciative emails received by Mandy:
Thought provoking – Fantastic, interactive session – Ensuring our personal levels of coaching are as high as possible  – Hugely beneficial  – Very useful – Helpful to continually reflect on all aspects of coaching – Really interesting Webinar – Very informative – Amazing First Zoom Presentation for Fs and Is – Great job Charlie and Amanda – Charlie packed a lot in – Thoroughly worthwhile  – Fantastic Presentation – Importance of reflection on own Coaching techniques – Importance of Rest and Recovery – Food for thought regarding improving our own techniques – Charlie’s enthusiasm, knowledge, experience and guidance shines through.

Report by Carol Bennitt, followed by some of the feedback received by Mandy Holloway (organiser).