Supporting the support team when away on tour

Understandably there is significant attention paid to the physical, mental, and emotion well being of players and teams when away from home either on training camps or in tournaments/competitions.  Both the provision and need for this support is further increased when this involves travelling overseas to different parts of the world, often in different time zones with different social, cultural and culinary norms. The benefits of providing such support to players are increasingly well documented, and as such teams and squads are increasingly providing more support more of the time.

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However, while the support and monitoring of playing staff has improved significantly in an attempt to understand how well players are coping physically and mentally, in my experience the same is not true for the coaching and support staff. This is particularly interesting as the coaching and support staff who are more likely to be older with more commitments and responsibilities at home and are also more likely to have increased family commitments. Also, the mental and emotional state of the support team directly impact upon the quality of the coaching, the support to players, and the environment. As a result staff wellbeing should be a core consideration when looking to plan any overseas programme.

Indeed, if you think about the core responsibilities of the team, the player’s main responsibility is performance, and the coaches and support staff’s main responsibility is the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of the players. Due to this dynamic the wellbeing of the support staff can often be overlooked. Many squads and teams now employ a system of ‘monitoring’ player physical and mental state, but these systems are often not extended to the support staff. Sometimes the main reason for this is the support staff themselves. They recognise that the players need to be monitored for their own health, but then fail to recognise their own need for reflection on how they are coping and their personal health, and support systems.

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In planning for effective performance when overseas either training or competing, staff should start by considering how they are going to ensure they are operating at optimal levels. Also considering what mechanisms they will have in place to understand if they are suffering or not performing as effectively as they could. Finally, consideration should be given to clear next steps if a coach or other member of the staff team is not able to perform optimally.

An effective team should encompass all playing and support staff, and as such support should be provided for the whole team, not just the players.

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