MindSet Lab Podcast: Moving Sport from Power Over to Power With, To and Within

Dickheads Allowed: Why we Cling to the Coach-Centric Model of Sport Leadership

“Why is there such a pervasive problem in elite sport with serious misconduct by coaches?” asks John Hoberman, sports historian at U Texas in the film Broken Trust, “and this is overwhelmingly a male population.” Hoberman ponders how “many coaches have found it necessary to establish authoritarian relationships with their athletes…that this young person has to be molded and shaped and brainwashed… and enter into what is often a dangerously dependent relationship with the coach, who, in any number of cases is just going to…

Crisis, Communication, Conflict and Insight Webinar

Sport: Investment or Cost?

I’ve often struggled with the characterization of elite athletes making ‘sacrifices’ to represent their country or reach a pinnacle in sport. Articles that discuss what an athlete ‘gives up’ to succeed, misconstrue investment with cost. Personally, I did not feel that training and competing for Canada was a sacrifice. I did not feel that I was ‘putting my life on hold’. I certainly did not believe that sport was ‘costing me’ anything. Rowing for Canada in the 80’s and 90’s was a gift, an education,…

Building a Club Culture of Thriving, Not Just Surviving (Row BC Webinar)

Club and Professional Development Workshops Wednesday April 29 2020 @2:00 pm  Collaborate Webinar Link HERE Running and sustaining a club can be exhausting and unrelenting. The same, aging group of volunteers raise their hands for an increasing number of tasks. The work is complex, and the maintenance never ends. Rowing as a sport can also be exhausting, relentless and unforgiving. Injury and/or burnout are common outcomes. For club leaders, coaches, and rowers alike, it is important to learn how to ‘thrive’ not just ‘survive’ in…

Building a Culture of “Winning with Benefits”, not Winning at all Costs (Rowing BC webinar)

ROWING BC CLUB DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOPS WEDNESDAY APRIL 15 2020 @2:00 PM DR. JEN WALINGA WEBINAR RECORDING LINK HERE Too often, winning can become the only focus in sport at the expense of other important goals and values. It is also easy to believe that we have to resort to a ‘win at all costs’ mentality in order to achieve gold medals. However, winning and more is possible, and more probable, without resorting to harmful practices in sport. During this interactive workshop you will: Explore the…

Winning Better: Cases of Cultural Transformation in Sport and Coaching (RRU Webinar)

Please join us Wed April 15 12 noon PT for a Roads to Research (link) presentation with Dr. Jennifer Walinga Professor, School of Communication and Culture Date: April 15 Time: noon to 12:30 p.m. Location: Online in Collaborate (see link below) Ultimately, all organizations are socio-technical systems in which the manner of external adaptation and the solution of internal integration problems are interdependent” (2004, 186). According to Schein and others, culture stems from underlying assumptions and beliefs which are represented through the values expressed, communicated, or enacted…

How to Strengthen yourClub Culture Even When Your Club is Closed (Webinar)

RECORDING LINK HERE A strong club culture leads to engaged members, positive energy, responsibility, successful events, high volunteerism, and an ethos of trust and support. Building a strong culture demands reflection, planning, collaboration, communication, and practice – just like rowing! DURING THIS INTERACTIVE WORKSHOP YOU WILL: • Understand how culture works • Clarify your club purpose, goals and values • Align club principles with practice • Use communication to build culture WEDNESDAY APRIL 1 2020 @2:00 PM DR. JEN WALINGA CLICK ON THIS WEBINAR LINK

Blog Post: #WinBetter or Win at all Costs: A Cost/Benefit Analysis Study on Sport Coaching

A coaching colleague described what it was like to coach the rowing team at the Royal Military College: “For them, sport was all about leadership, citizenship, sportsmanship. Sport involved building trust, collaboration skills, discipline, and focus; but ultimately sport was about becoming a better human.” She recalled how confusing it was, then, to watch the athletes in combat training: “It was non-stop yelling and cursing, it was violent, demeaning, hostile… it was abusive and it freaked me out!” When she asked about the contradiction, the…

Blog Post: We need coaches who can develop leaders, not Neanderthals and narcissists

Blog by Jennifer Walinga, PhD The tough guy mentality in sport is dead. It’s time to evolve. Interestingly, values based coaching is not new. There is a curious assumption that in order to get people to perform we must break them down. We call it ‘old school coaching’. I suppose we have inherited this mindset from the military; however, in sport, the militaristic approach does not make sense. While athletes certainly need to develop resilience in order to stretch their limits, sport is not battle…

An Evening of Women in Leadership

Each year, on International Women’s Day, Jennifer Walinga, Professor of Communication and Culture at Royal Roads University, offers a free talk on Women in Leadership. During this interactive evening session hosted at RRU’s Quarterdeck, Walinga provides an update on the status of women in leadership and challenges the participants to problem solve barriers to a more inclusive, balanced, and diverse society in all aspects of our personal and professional lives. Jennifer draws from her personal experience working with communities of leaders across public, social profit…

Blog Post: Bullying or Coaching: Are you pulling kids in, or pushing them out?

In a recent conversation with fellow coaches, we were trying to determine how best to support young coaches’ development. One of the questions we wrestled with is “what is good coaching practice?” We struggled with the the idea of Safe Sport and particularly “how do we know when something verges or leans toward bullying?” The example that arose was the idea of making an athlete ‘drop and give us 20’ when they arrive late to practice. This is a common practice at many club and…

Blog Post: Recovering from Abusive Coaching: From Surviving to Thriving

Recently, the Coaching Association of Canada was tasked with creating an updated Coaching Code of Conduct in order to address BAHD behaviours in sport (bullying, abuse, harassment, discrimination). Sport Canada and Kristy Duncan, Canada’s Minister of Science and Sport, introduced several steps to eliminating abuse of all kinds in sport including expecting NSO’s to create policy and third party reporting procedures, creating an investigative unit, establishing an athlete helpline, and funding preventative measures such as Safe Sport promotion and education. These steps toward prevention, recognition…

Blog Post: High Performance Sport is Good Sport

Recently, I attended a think tank supported by Canada’s Own the Podium (OTP), designed to explore what it will take to enhance the culture of sport and sport teams in Canada. Culture is an important high performance factor and presents an additional opportunity to enhance performance in our quest for excellence. OTP is a not-for-profit organization that prioritizes and determines investment strategies for National Sport Organizations in an effort to deliver more Olympic and Paralympic medals for Canada. What the leaders of OTP are finding is…

Blog Post: It doesn’t matter who wins…

For the first time, I don’t care who wins the nba final. I definitely care about the final – don’t get me wrong – but I don’t care who wins. I am not supporting one team over another. I love both teams and I’m looking forward to watching great basketball. This lack of alliance struck me as a rare experience. I typically choose a side even when I am unfamiliar with the sport, and even when I join late in the game. I’ve reflected on…

Blog Post: Building a Culture of Excellence in Sport – What it Actually Takes to Change the Norms

“We know that sport has the power to inspire a nation, to build leaders and to unite Canadians,” says Dasha Peregoudova, President of AthletesCAN. “That is why we are pushing hard for the necessary change to address abuse, harassment and discrimination in sport.” Dasha is spot on. If sport is to truly inspire, build, and unite, we need to delete all forms of abuse in sport. Abuse contradicts the purpose of sport to inspire, build, and unite. Abuse degrades, diminishes, and fractures. Yet somehow abuse is…

Blog Post: Passion or Abuse: What is harassment in sport?

Recently, there have been several items in the media highlighting changes in Canadian sport policy, specifically concerning bullying, abusive, harassing, and discriminatory (BAHD) coach behaviour in sport. Most NGO’s are creating their own codes of conduct and implementing the new SafeSport policy requirements including the rule of 2, criminal record checks, and ‘responsible coach’ training. With a 60% reduction in sport participation, partly due to bad coach and parent behaviour, sport is in crisis. The values in sport need to shift. As a researcher and…

Blog Post: Leadership through Sport: Competing with, not against

Marc Gasol consoles Joel Embiid after game 7 in the Raptors/76ers series and shows his class, grace, and leadership in modeling the true value of sport. These guys play with each other season after season. I say ‘with’ because one is always competing with, not against, in sport. Athletic competition is collaborative – without your opponent, there is no game, there is no challenge, there is no excellence. It’s for excellence that we all strive. I noticed that consoling his competitor was one of the…

Blog Post: Winning with Integrity

The picture above was part of a celebratory article on a youth lacrosse coach upon retirement. One of his former athletes wrote fondly of this coach’s tendency to ‘break people down’ and how while he at first rejected this approach, he learned that ‘he needed it’. I disagree. Somehow we have normalized violence in sport. We call violence ‘passion.’ We think violence is ‘natural’ to the human experience and must be ‘released’, a Freudian theoretical principle that anger released is anger spent. Anthropologists Desmond Morris…

Blog Post: Taking the Lead on Safe Sport

I’m calling on Canada to take the lead on Good, Safe, Clean and True sport. Canada is best positioned, as a world moral leader (albeit shaky of late), to take the lead on good sport. Winning can only come with integrity. It’s the Canadian Way. As a professor and research in communication, I believe that leadership is communication and communication is crucial to leading change in the area of safe and good sport. It is one thing to say we believe in integrity in sport,…

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