Learning From The Best: How British Gymnastics Are Taking A Unique Approach To Developing Communication Skills
February 2, 2022
Alex McGregor, Performance Pathway Manager at British Gymnastics, explains why the organisation has invited a hostage negotiator to share wisdom on effective communication at this year’s Performance Symposium.
As Performance Pathway Manager at British Gymnastics, I believe it is essential to focus on developing our ‘soft skills’, such as communicating, in the same way that we would aim to develop the technical side of coaching. In order to support coaches to do this, we wanted to tap into the limitless expertise of professionals outside of gymnastics, because that outside perspective is invaluable to enhancing and evaluating sporting practices. Our aim is to understand and learn from other sports and industries, where communication is also pivotal, to be able to bring those skills back into our sport and ultimately enhance coaching practice.
“It is clear to us that providing a breadth of opportunity and focusing on what those with very different backgrounds can give you is the gateway to progress.”
That’s why as part of this year’s British Gymnastics Performance Pathway Symposium, we are giving a platform to speakers both inside and outside the sport – one guest a former Head of Greater Manchester Police hostage and negotiation team.
You might ask yourself what someone entirely removed from the sport can teach a gymnastics coach about coaching gymnastics. But over a number of years providing educational speaker events for the gymnastics community, it is clear to us that providing a breadth of opportunity and focusing on what those with very different backgrounds can give you is the gateway to progress.
Our rationale behind educating coaches with the principles of communication and emotional intelligence is that every great athlete and coach team is underpinned by trust – that any working relationship is built by not just talking to each other, but by listening to each other and really understanding each others values and motivation.
In our efforts to provide the best and most innovative educational resources to our community, we have worked to bring in speakers across multiple disciplines. As well as a hostage specialist with 27 years experience in the police, we will hear from one of the UK’s leading Performance Psychologists, a Professor of Psychology at Loughborough University, and a Senior Coach Developer with a background in professional rugby.
“To have an open forum with communication experts in business and beyond is extremely beneficial to ensure our sport is constantly evolving and considering ways we can innovate.”
This is a collaborative approach in the truest sense. Not only are we looking to professionals outside of our specific disciplines to contribute to our sports’ development, this event is based on the interaction with our gymnastics community. As part of the symposium, everyone has the opportunity to ask questions, to evaluate and reflect on what has been learned, and speak directly with experts on how they can continue to improve and provide the best experiences possible.
To have an open forum with communication experts in business and beyond is extremely beneficial to ensure our sport is constantly evolving and considering ways we can innovate. Gymnastics is considered a ‘foundation sport’ – in that it provides the basis for so many other skills, like communication, that can be reapplied to many aspects of life.
Our sport is a fantastic opportunity for all to develop themselves both professionally and personally. British Gymnastics is committed to providing the best opportunities for everyone involved in our sport, and to complement discussions on best technical practice with wider skill sets. While considering how to gradually build up difficulty in a routine, or working on perfecting a dismount from apparatus, it’s just as vital to learn how to communicate effectively and reflect on your training process.
“It’s just as vital to learn how to communicate effectively and reflect on your training process.”
With our performance pathway symposium focusing on communication, feedback and emotional intelligence this year, we are providing unique support that is helping our gymnastics community – with a little help from industry experts along the way.
The British Gymnastics Performance Symposium is taking place online from 24th January – 11th February. You can find out more, see the schedule and register online here. Tickets cost £20 for British Gymnastics members and UK residents, but access is available to non-members and international guests also. More info on this can be found on the event page.
All sessions will also be recorded so that attendees can watch on demand at any time for their convenience over the next 12 months.