There will still be a good proportion of athletes that were coached the old way… The way of finding fault, criticism, of ‘could do better’…

There will be some of these athletes who are now coaches and may believe that this was the way that lead to their achievements and so will coach the next generation in the same way…

But it doesn’t work, even with an athlete that needs more push than reining back, criticism is destructive, there are ways to realistically point out where improvements are needed, growth opportunities are budding, possible pointers for citius altius fortius…

Faster, higher, stronger comes through building up, not breaking down and feelings of ‘not good enough’ and criticism break rather than build…

There are ways to coach that encourage, support, engender feelings of self worth, satisfaction pride, that build the consistency and ongoing commitment to ‘keeping on keeping on’, which is necessary for our top performances to emerge…

But the damage that can occur through criticism can be deep… the external coach turns into the internal coach and then the athlete is never satisfied, always hard on themselves, the outer critic has taken up residence and is well and truly now the inner critic.

And this can spoil a sporting dream… Spoil the joy in sport, it can spoil life.

‘Could do better’, ‘not good enough’, to downright direct criticism, ‘that’s rubbish’, ‘what you do think that is? You might as well not bother’, ‘give up, you’re no good’, ‘hopeless’, and so it spirals and defeats the whole object of sport being a place of possibility, expansion, striving for excellence, stretching; becoming more than we were before…

So if you have a harsh inner critic, this is an exercise I did myself that had every good effect and changed my life as well as my sport.

Retiring the harsh coach exercise:

Firstly personify this coach… I called my inner harsh coach George… I didn’t know any George’s in life!

Thank this coach, they have worked long and hard to do what they thought you wanted… success, satisfaction, great results… This was the way they thought best to help you to help you achieve what you dreamed… So a big thank you to the intention…

Then retire this coach… Do a visualization exercise, I imagined shaking George by the hand, giving him a ‘golden handshake’ for his years of good service, and a retirement party too! A great big ‘do’, and then sending him off to a relaxing and happy retirement …

Then think of the qualities you need in your supportive coach… write them all down, the ‘job description’, so that you know ‘who’ you are looking for as your inner coach…

Then personify them, I employed an inner coach called James – I didn’t know any James’ either at the time… He is still my inner coach, and this was many years ago he came into my ‘employ’… he is kind and patient and always encouraging… He takes into account all factors if the running hasn’t gone quite as well; he notices the windy day, the heat, the fact I may not have slept so much, or travelled. He is my inner friend as well as my coach…

So – Visualise employing your new coach… Have a chat, get to know him or her and settle in with this new inner being…

It might take time and sometimes your old coach may forget they are retired and then he or she pops back in with their old ‘coaching methods…’!

When this happens, gently, kindly remind them they are no longer required and instead turn to and listen to your new one.

About the Author: Julia Chi Taylor

About the Author: Julia Chi Taylor


Julia is an ex international distance runner.
In the late 70’s all through the 80’s and into the early 90’s she competed regularly for England and GB at distances from 5k to Marathon. Some of her best performances include winning the 1985 Dublin Marathon and finishing 7th woman (3rd British woman) in the 1986 London Marathon in a time of 2.36.31 where she was selected to run in the Commonwealth Games.

She still competes now as a master over 55, regularly winning her age group in races around the world. She’s was also part of the winning team for the national master X country championships in March this year, 2016. Julia has coached and mentored others to achieve their dreams in sport and life for the past forty years!

Read about her barefoot adventures:
Watch Julia chart her barefoot journey all over the world:

Julia’s Books:
Girlfriend For A Year
Running To Learn
Running Sussed

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