Job title NLP Sports Master Practitioner
Have you ever wanted to work within the sports industry to help sportspeople maximise their potential and skills? Or have an interest in the impact of sports psychology?
Bob currently works for think2win as an NLP Sports Master Practitioner providing leadership skills, communication and team motivation for businesses within the sports industry. Bob spoke to us about his main responsibilities, challenges faced and the experience required to be a Sports Master Practitioner.
“My love in life has always been sport”
Can you tell us a bit about your career path to this point and how you became an NLP Sports Master Practitioner?
After leaving college many years ago, I started work in the financial services sector working for the London Stock Exchange. Over many years I worked in the City of London working for exchanges, trade associations and the vendor market. The roles were mainly in the sales and account management positions. I preferred to deal with people rather than technology, very much a people person.
In 2006, I decided to go out on my own and launched my own consultancy business, again within financial services. However, my love in life has always been sport and being of an age it was too late to make a living from playing sport. But I didn’t give up, I investigated other areas where I could still be involved within the sports industry. Due to running my own company, this gave me the time to retrain.
My inspiration came from watching a documentary on sports psychology, this whole area fascinated me and I started reading up on psychology and the techniques used in sport. I then just simply Googled “Sports Psychology Courses” and up popped a company called Widervision run by a man called Andy Barton. Andy is one of the UK’s leading sports psychologist and he runs NLP Sports Practitioner courses and Master courses. I signed up immediately and after completing my training for the practitioner courses, signed up straight away to do the Master courses. I just loved this part of psychology. After becoming accredited, I launched my small practice called think2win.
I must confess; it took a long time and many hours and weeks of contacting various people in the industry to get the business going. Finally, I got a breakthrough with the English Football League Trust who requested a meeting to discuss my services in more detail. They provided me with excellent advice and requested that I contact academy and centres of excellence managers at all Football League clubs and present my practice at the club’s “In Service” days. After staying up all night writing letters to all clubs and researching their academies, I got the letters out the next day. This resulted in a positive response and several clubs requested workshops at the in-service days. Several players and coaches requested individual sessions ranging from confidence building, limited beliefs, motivational issues. One club used me for long term injuries for goal setting techniques and reframing the negative event into a positive outcome.
I have now extending think2win to provide Soft Skills training for businesses to aid leadership skills, communications and team motivation. I and another two partners have recently launched a company called ICPD UK. This has been designed to provide postgraduate and universities with intensive courses for Interview, Communications and Personal Development to help students prepare for the outside world. The aim is to help them prepare for the interview process, understanding the importance of body language and building rapport.
“It is vital to stay ahead of the game”
What are your main responsibilities in your current role as NLP Sports practitioner?
I would say the main responsibilities are to provide a first-class service to my clients. Working on my own can take self-discipline, running your own business, there is no room for complacency. In this whole area of coaching it is vital to stay ahead of the game in terms of new techniques and how to use them.
When you run a small business on your own, it is vital to find new clients as well as existing ones.
“One of your techniques being used in a successful situation”
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Without a doubt, working with people, not just sports people but anyone wanting to improve their lives or performance at work. When you see the smile appear on the face or one of your techniques being used in a successful situation or event, the sheer joy is hard to describe. I once worked with a player who played centre-forward for a club, he was having a goal drought and confidence was low. The coach called me on Friday morning and asked if I could see the player. We did a session that afternoon, the player was willing to be open-minded and just wanted his confidence back in front of goal. The root of the problem was negative self-talk, things like “don’t miss, don’t hit the post not straight at the goalkeeper” were constantly going through his head. We just reframed the negative to positive, did some internal positive talk (using present tense) and visualisation techniques. When I got a call on Saturday evening from the coach asking me “what did you say to him yesterday? He hit a hat-trick today”. The feeling is one of joy and excitement that you helped someone.
What are the biggest challenges in your NLP Sports role, or facing your industry generally?
There are certain sports which still have issues recognising psychology as part of the players training methods. The Football Association introduced a four plan for players and coaches to take in account, technical skills, fitness, social and mental skills. Other sports still leave mental preparation directly with the athlete to do themselves.
Another huge challenge is budgets, especially at lower league football and rugby clubs. They love the idea of putting their playing staff through psychology training and learn new techniques to help enhance the performance but simply do not have the budget to pay external practitioners. I found this on many occasions, love the idea but no money to pay for it. Championship clubs that I worked for even struggled sometimes to approve the budget.
“Go out and get some work experience”
What opportunities are there in your industry for young people in 2020?
For someone just starting out there are huge opportunities in NLP, coaching, life coaching.
I would recommend to any young person, go out and get some work experience first. Observe what you see around you. How do people manage others? Fully understand how the human ticks. What type of personality do people have, observe all. Remember that 55% of our communications is body language, only 7% are words. By understanding what makes people tick and how to build a rapport with them will really give you a head start in any area of coaching.
Sport has now become a huge business but nevertheless it is a big, big business so for young people starting out, believe in yourself, fulfil your dream, try and not let people put you off. In the sports industry today, there are so many opportunities on the periphery, commercial, sponsorship, player liaison, journalism, performance coaching and with technology today like Prozone and video analysis.
If you’re looking for work experience within the sports science industry why not check out our careers advice section to see what is available?
What experience does your profession require?
Firstly sign up for face to face courses (please, please do not go for an online course, you need a human to teach you). Then start working with family and friends to build up your coaching hours. I’ve been accredited since 2009 and I’m still learning and picking up new ideas and techniques. Each session that you conduct, learn from it, self-analysis is a very good exercise. What went well, where can I improve etc. I would advise a minimum of 2 to 3 years actively coaching to gain the experience required.
What is important for young people to consider when applying for a job? What makes people stand out?
When I look at a CV, the first thing I look at is, interests. This tells me a lot about the person. Are then a team player type or an individual? During the interview, I look how much they have researched my company.. Candidates can be nervous that’s perfectly normal, but have they prepared for the meeting is what I look out for. As humans, we all have our own personalities. I’m looking for the person to just be themselves. If they give me examples of their work ethic, could even be voluntary work, it shows that they are willing to get ahead of the competition. A competitive nature is always a plus but my advice research the company first, don’t come across too competitive as this could be a high maintenance candidate or arrogant.
The first important step in your job search is perfecting your CV. If you’re looking for tips on how to perfect your CV why not check out our top CV tips and other advice sections when applying for a job.
“Follow your dream and believe in yourself”
If you had one bit of advice you would tell your younger self, what would it be?
I wish I had discovered this type of work when I was younger. Unfortunately, at school and at home, I was told, go and get a proper job, in an office, regular salary. In my younger days I was a reasonably good footballer, I lived, breathed and ate football. I was asked to go for trials at a local league club but this pressure from school and at home to “Get a proper job” overtook events. So, telling my younger self now, follow your dream and believe in yourself.
“Be open to criticism”
What was the best advice you were given?
Believe in yourself. Try not listen to negative comments. Be open to criticism but constructive criticism only.
£20,000 upwards. It can be dependent on the sport and level you’re working at. Salaries for experienced sport and exercise psychologists typically range from £27,000 to £37,000 and senior psychologists and heads of department can earn upwards of £48,000.
Interested in this NLP Sports profession? Access more information on careers in Sports Science via our dedicated section on Careers in Sport.
Careers in Sport and Exercise Science webinar on our YouTube channel.
Visit the BASES directory on Careers in Sport.