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Developing employability through sport and physical activity
Developing employability through sport and physical activity

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4 The inner game – exploring self-awareness in sport

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Figure 6 Self-awareness plays a crucial role in emotional regulation

Self-awareness refers to having a clear understanding of your own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, values, and motivations. It involves being conscious of how your thoughts, actions, and behaviours impact not only yourself, but others as well, in various settings. You will probably notice that there is some crossover with self-awareness and self-management, which you explored in the previous section.

By possessing well-honed self-awareness, athletes and coaches are able to focus on leveraging their strengths to maximise their performance potential. Similarly, acknowledging weaknesses enables them to work on those areas, striving for improvement and enhancing overall abilities. Furthermore, self-awareness plays a crucial role in emotional regulation. Whether as a player, coach, or even a fan, you no doubt recognise that sport can elicit a range of emotions, such as excitement, elation, frustration, and anxiety. Being self-aware allows people to manage those emotions effectively, particularly if they can understand emotional triggers and responses allowing them to maintain composure under pressure and make rational decisions.

Take a moment to pause and reflect on your personal involvement in sport before proceeding with the activity below. Consider why you choose to be engaged in sports, what goals you hope to achieve through your participation, and the emotions you experience when competing, coaching, or watching your favourite team. These seemingly straightforward questions prompt you to probe a level of self-awareness that may not typically receive conscious attention in your daily or weekly routines.

Activity 4 Coaching with clarity: uncovering the benefits of self-awareness

Timing: Allow approximately 15 minutes

Listen to the clip from The Sports Career Podcast (44:47 to 49:05) via the link below. This extract focuses on self-awareness from a coach’s perspective. As you listen, consider how Ed Bowers (host) and Mariusz Rumak (a Football Head Coach, Educator of High-Performance Football) discuss these behaviours by answering the following questions:

  1. What strategies or techniques does Mariusz Rumak suggest for coaches to cultivate self-awareness?
  2. How can these strategies or techniques be transferred to athletes or taken into the wider world?

The Sports Career Podcast: Mariusz Rumak – How can ‘Self-Awareness’ & ‘Self-Assessment’ Improve a Football Coach? [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

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Mariusz Rumak emphasised the importance of self-awareness and self-assessment for coaches, highlighting their role in fostering professional growth and effectiveness. The central focus of the conversation revolved around comprehending and recognising yourself, and how this understanding relates to your vision, values, and objectives. While Rumak specifically discussed these aspects within the context of a football coach, similar contemplations can apply to athletes as well. It involves understanding the type of player you are, defining your aspirations, and identifying daily actions to enhance your performance. Moreover, these reflections can be extended to your professional life, considering the desired qualities as a colleague or leader. It entails recognising personal strengths and weaknesses and continuously enhancing both technical and interpersonal skills.

Before progressing to the summary of this session, take a moment to consider the various ways in which self-awareness is a vital behaviour not only in sport but in your professional life too.

Self-awareness in the workplace fosters effective communication, strong relationships, leadership abilities, conflict resolution skills, adaptability, resilience, and personal growth. It contributes to a positive work environment, improved collaboration, and individual and organisational success. Ask yourself: what is the one thing you could do today to develop your own self-awareness either from the perspective of sport or professionally?