Previous Weekly Updates

Updated: May 14


ARTICLE. Having just finished reading Carlo Ancelotti’s book Quiet Leadership: Winning Hearts, Minds and Matches, I am enjoying rereading Bill Walsh’s book The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership. In my opinion it is the gold standard on leadership and coaching, and a book I go back to regularly, not only to check and challenge my coaching methodologies and philosophies but also to support my coaching practice and behaviours. There are nuggets of coaching and leadership wisdom on every page! A must read for coaches of all levels. Inspiring's Paul Westgate looks at Walsh's DOs and DON'Ts for getting back in the game, his famous Standard of Performance and advice for coaches wanting to establish their own Standard of Performance. Our members can access Paul's article in the Leadership and Culture section of our members' area.


ARTICLE. Inspiring's Paul Westgate chooses his 5 key learning points from the Building a Performance Environment workshop with Liv Murphy (Loughborough Sport, Head of Performance Support) and Sara Bayman (Loughborough Lightning Director of Netball). Liv and Sara gave a fascinating insight into the world of elite Netball but importantly the learning and takeaways are transferable to all sports and relevant to all coaches. Our members can access Paul's article in the Leadership and Culture section of our members' area.


ARTICLE. Inspiring's Paul Westgate shares his 12 key learning points from Carlo Ancelotti's book: Quiet Leadership: Winning Hearts, Minds and Matches. Although renowned for his tactical prowess and adaptability, it is his kindness and good humour, and his calm and balanced approach as a manager that set him apart. Ancelotti has time and again demonstrated the ability to motivate his players and cultivate a good relationship with them, and he has consistently produced a united and winning team environment. Our members can access Paul's article in the Leadership and Culture section of our members' area.


ARTICLE. Our latest coaching article focusses on building rapport when time and contact with your players and key staff are limited. Inspiring's Paul Westgate spoke to Community Head Coach Ross Boshier who had just completed a long term assignment on building rapport in short interactions. Ross shares the summary of his research into rapport building and the feedback from his expert interviews with people in the sporting world and in business, the military, medicine etc. Ross concludes that rather than follow a rigid framework to build rapport coaches should instead follow a set of principles or guidelines. Ross shares with Paul his 8 Principles for building rapport and these will be of interest to all coaches who want to build and maintain effective and productive relationships with their players and staff. Our members can access Ross's article in the Leadership and Culture section of our members' area.

WORKSHOP. Our Workshop with the England Rugby Senior Team S&C Coach, Tom Tombleson, on Wednesday 31 March has been one of our most popular workshops yet. The feedback has been terrific and it is clear that you all took so much away from Tom's detailed presentation on a typical week's training for the England senior team leading up to a test rugby match. Not only did Tom provide the rationale behind the principle of Tactical Periodisation which the England coaches follow, he also shared details on the content and intent of the training sessions, and on the importance of nutrition, hydration and recovery. Fascinating stuff! Our members can access a recording of Tom's workshop in the Tactical Analysis section of our members' area.


INSPIRING DIALOGUE. For our latest Inspiring Dialogue Paul chats to the USA Eagles Women's Assistant Coach, Neil Harris. Neil shares his passion for the set piece as well as his coaching philosophy: to create a safe and contextual learning environment. He talks about the enjoyment and challenges of coaching at the elite end of the women's game, and the importance for a coach to understand and communicate his 'why' and his purpose. Referencing his coaching experience with Bedford Blues and Saracens Women, Neil talks passionately about scrums and lineouts, and their importance in the game. He shares his scrum philosophy which is based on the acronym - S.C.R.U.M. Easy for the front row players to remember he adds! Our conversation takes in culture (defined as the acceptable behaviours), the importance of fun and enjoyment in your sessions, the benefits for a coach of networking and how Neil personally reflects and learns. One key takeaway is about the relationship between the coach and the player. A player may forget technical and tactical knowledge, but he or she will never forget how a coach makes them feel. The full recording can be accessed in the Coaching Practice section of our member's area.


ARTICLE. Inspiring's Paul Westgate comments on a paper looking at high performance recently written by Richard Young PhD. The brief paper summarises observations and analysis of the learned habits of success in Olympic performance. Richard looks at the experience, observations and data from 30 years in high performance sport helping Olympic Teams build systems of learning and innovation. Many talented performers struggle for too long with too many priorities, too many problems to fix, and too many ideas to implement. The approach taken by successful performers is simpler and lighter. The paper is written to help you (the coach) simplify performance in your world for faster, lighter and more meaningful results. Paul shares Eddie Jones's definition of high performance. Most high performance environments are focussed on learning and improving, and if this is the case then all coaches should aspire to create and sustain a high performance environment. But where do you start? Read Paul's observations and Richard's summary paper in the Leadership and Culture section of our members' area.


INSPIRING DIALOGUE. Listen to our latest Inspiring Dialogue with Steve Hill, Director of Rugby at Richmond RFC. Richmond are one of the oldest clubs in England (they were formed in 1861) and currently play in the English Championship. This dialogue took place after the Championship had restarted and Richmond had played their first game away at Hartpury RFC. Steve shares his thoughts on coaching philosophy and methodology, his non-negotiables (good time-keeping, no d***heads, no egos, honesty etc.), the importance of club culture at Richmond, how he regularly self-reflects (at 5am!) and how he keeps himself up-to-date with current coaching practice. He offers some great advice for young coaches (Steve himself started coaching in his 20s) and shares the many lessons from his extensive coaching journey. Steve is first and foremost a rugby coach. He has coached rugby part-time, full-time and been a player-coach, and he has coached in the Premiership, Championship and lower leagues. In addition to being DoR at Oxford University for 14 years (50% success rate!) Steve has also coached representative rugby at senior county level, England Students and The Penguins. The full recording can be accessed in the Coaching Practice section of our member's area.


ARTICLE. Read Paul Westgate's article on how the GAZING Principle and Red2Blue Thinking can help coaches and players perform better under pressure. Paul is a qualified Red2Blue Coach. The full article can be accessed in the Mental Skills section of our member's area.

"Pressure does funny things to people! Let's take a closer look at performance and pressure. Take a piece of paper and draw a straight line horizontally across the page. Put a zero at one end on the left and 100 at the other end on the right. If this line represents performance, where would you put yourself on the line? Most people put themselves at about 70%. Why? Well, nobody is 100% perfect although you would want the surgeon doing your operation to be operating at 100%! The fact is that we all move up and down the performance line. The first point to make is that performance is not all or nothing. But what does that mean? It means we can all improve and the line helps with perspective.

We all want to get better or if we find ourselves stuck then we all want to get moving again. The secret is taking small steps.... The key is control of attention..."


ARTICLE. Read a summary of Tom Drewett's research into how coaches should manage difficult or problematic players. Tom is Director of Rugby at the University of Bimingham. Tom's provides his rationale, shares some insightful research and offers coaches a list of recommended approaches. The summary can be accessed in the Coaching Practice section of our member's area.

"I spent lockdown 1 watching the Chicago Bulls documentary (the last dance) and I was fascinated by how Phil Jackson (the Head Coach) was able to manage the players, their egos and their eccentric behaviours to form incredible successful team environments that won Championships. I wanted to know how Phil managed Dennis Rodman, and how he got Michael Jordan to fulfil his potential. I bought Phil’s book and learnt that he also had to manage Kobe Bryant who I believe was more difficult to manage than Dennis..."

WEBINAR WITH BRIAN ASHTON. We have uploaded a recording of Brian' webinar Why not Player Ownership? to the Coaching Practice section in our members' area. It was awesome to invite Brian back to speak on a subject that he is passionate about. Player Ownership can lead to an increase in player motivation and team success, so why do more coaches not use it? Brian looked at what player ownership is, why is it important and how can coaches translate it into successful practice. He shared a stunning example of Player Ownership in action in the final minute of Ireland v New Zealand in 2013. Here is the link.

Brian also shared his experiences and lessons as a coach, discussed his transformational influences and his move away from drills to holistic coaching. In particular he looked at a coaching shift in methodology from systematic to opportunitistic, and shared the ROLF (Responsibility, Ownership, Leadership and Freedom) pathway to player freedom! There was still room for discussion of game intelligence and implementation of tactics, and further reference to his favourite acronyms e.g. VUCA and COPS!

Some key takeaways: develop a culture of the player NOT the coach, coach through the eyes of the player, promote a fail/learn/fix approach, have a clear purpose to what you are coaching and ask simple but effective questions e.g. What are your thoughts (to the players)?


INSPIRING DIALOGUE. Listen to our latest Inspiring Dialogue with Phil Davies, Director of Rugby at Leeds Tykes. Paul catches up with Phil having both previously been on the first cohort of Level 5 coaches. Phil talks about his coaching philosophy and non-negotiables, and about building culture and the importance of context in creating high performance environments. Phil has an impressive rugby coaching CV. He finished his playing career as captain of Llanelli and having won 46 caps for Wales; he has since been Director of Rugby at The Scarlets, Cardiff Blues and Leeds Tykes, Assistant Coach at Worcester, National Academy Manager for the WRFU and coach of Namibia at the 2015 and 2019 RWC! It is an excellent listen - so many nuggets of wisdom and insight for coaches, and some great learning moments shared. Phil is honest and clear in the lessons he learned, and he uses plenty of examples and anecdotes to bring his coaching journey to life. He also shares his thoughts on the next round of the 6 Nations with England taking on Wales in Cardiff!

The Inspiring Dialogue recording can be found in the Leadership and Culture section of our members' area.


ARTICLE. Read our latest article on Building Culture. Inspiring Coaching recently delivered a workshop to coaches on Building Culture and in his article Paul shares a process for how to build culture. He looks at establishing purpose, defining behaviours and standards, creating a commitment culture, developing a sense of belonging and being authentic. As well as providing 5 key takeaways, Paul shares a useful bibliography for coaches who want to know more and draws on sporting examples from the All Blacks and FC Barcelona, to Manchester United and the San Anonio Spurs. Included is a definition of culture from Stuart Lancaster who was interviewed by Paul for one of our Inspiring Dialogues.

This article can be found in the Leadership and Culture section of our members' area.


ARTICLE. Watch and listen to our latest Inspiring Dialogue with Peter Drewett, the High Performance Director with the Georgia Rugby Union. Since finishing his playing days with Exeter University (St Luke's), Exeter Chiefs and Bath, Peter went into full-time coaching and developed an impressive coaching CV. He was for many years the RFU National Player Development Manager, is a former coach to the England U21s and was Director of Rugby and Head Coach at Exeter Chiefs. He is widely respected and acknowledged for his significant influence and foresight in laying the foundations for the Exeter Chiefs future success and dominance in English and European rugby.

Peter talks about his current role with Tier 2 nation Georgia and their aims for the 2023 RWC. He shares his journey from a young rugby player at John Fisher School to working alongside one of his key influencers, Sir Clive Woodward, in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Peter offers his non-negotiables (Lombardi Time, Respect for others, Commitment, Growth Mindset and Followship) and in the candid and honest discussion, he touches on the early days at Chiefs, leadership, having courageous conversations, reflection and feedback, and finally, the importance of thinking differently. The one constant theme throughout Peter's coaching journey has been to improve people's lives.

This Inspiring Dialogue can be found in the Leadership and Culture section of our members' area.

ARTICLE. Inspiring's Paul Westgate explores the importance of coaches knowing their WHY and perhaps more importantly their players knowing their coach's WHY! Referencing Simon Sinek's article on Start with Why and sharing a YouTube link to Simon's popular TED Talk (it's the 3rd most popular download of all the TED Talks!) Paul considers the role of a mentor in helping a coach find, define and follow their WHY.

If a coach wants to coach consistently, have a useful point of reference, be a better decision-maker, be more inspirational, have better player engagement, have a clearer purpose to what they do, and coach with even greater passion, enjoyment and motivation for the game, then knowing their WHY is a no-brainer! Having a mentor who can help you to understand your WHY and support you on your journey could be a great starting point.

Check out our e-mentoring programme for more details!

The article can be found in the Leadership and Culture section of our members' area.

RECORDING. Listen to a recording clip of Eddie Jones discussing the importance of personal development. Eddie looks at the importance of continuing to develop yourself and having a development plan, and and how you never become a good coach, you are just trying to be a good coach! It was also interesting to hear Eddie's take on Generation Z and the need to understand how they learn. In particular Eddie discusses who influenced him as a coach and the importance of having someone in your coaching corner - someone who can support you as a coach and help you develop through feedback. With more coaches signing up to our e-mentoring programme we would be delighted to discuss how we can challenge and support you further as a coach. The recording clip can be found in the Coaching Practice section of our members' area.

At Inspiring Coaching we understand that coaching can be a lonely place and particularly now during what is a difficult time for us all but having someone to support you, a mentor, can be hugely beneficial.

Here are 5 reasons why we believe our Inspiring Coaching e-mentoring programme will help you improve your personal and professional skills and knowledge:

​1. We are passionate about the development and growth of others

2. We are coach-centred and will always put YOU and your needs first

3. We will help you increase your confidence and motivation so that you will have better personal and professional outcomes

4. We will provide timely and relevant advice to ensure you stay on track and get the best out of the programme

5. We will readily engage you in your own learning through effective questioning, consistent support and appropriate challenge. YOU will drive the agenda!

We are both experienced mentors and we can offer that critical friendship to help coaches develop. Contact or for more information.

WORKSHOP. Our grateful thanks to Coach Logic's Mark Cairns who presented an informative and insightful workshop on Wednesday looking at young players and how they learn. It was fascinating to look at some of the statistics of Generation Z (aka the Zoomers) and discuss the implications for how we coach them. The workshop has been uploaded to the Tactical Analysis section of our members' area. Enjoy!


ARTICLE. Take a few moments to think back to your favourite sports coach or teacher. What are the qualities of that coach that first spring to mind? My guess is that you remember them more for their social and personal qualities, and impact on you, than their technical or tactical knowledge. Someone famous once said that nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. Too true! Coaches who build connections and relationships with their athletes and show that they care about them as people are often the most memorable. We never forget how people made us feel.

Our latest updates are two articles about coaching the person not the athlete. The first is an article by Inspiring's Paul Westgate Don't Coach the Sport, Coach the Person! in which he looks at the importance of knowing your player(s), building relationships and coaching the person first. This is often called transformational coaching. Much of the success of the San Antonio Spurs basketball team, for example, is down to their Head Coach Gregg Popovich (see photo). 'Pop' is a transformational coach. He is beloved by his players because he brings the best out of them on the court. It also helps that he treats every player with the same level of respect whether it’s the franchise player or the last man on the bench, and he selects players based on their personal skills and personality. The second is via a link to an article by Dan Wright Coach the Person not the Player. Dan is the Player Development Project’s Technical Advisor and a UEFA A Licensed Academy Coach with experience working at grassroots level through to professional academies in the UK & Africa.

The link is at the end of Paul's article. Both can be accessed in our members' area in the Coaching Practice section.


INSPIRING DIALOGUES. Listen to a recording with Director of Rugby Nick Scott in our Inspiring Dialogues series. Nick chats to Inspiring's Paul Westgate about his coaching journey from Newark RFC and Loughborough Students to National Coaching Manager for the RFU and now Director of Rugby at Rugby Colorno in Italy. Nick shares his coaching non-negotiables which include mutual respect and authenticity, and describes how he has changed his directive style of coaching in his early days to becoming a more collaborative coach. He discusses his preferred learning style as a coach (non-formal) and explains why session planning for him is a mind map and not a linear plan. Nick gives an insight into Italian Culture and how passion can be both a positive and negative! And advice for our coaches? Enjoy the journey and don't let the perfect get in the way of the good! Our members can access the recording in the Leadership and Culture section of our Members' Area.


INSPIRING DIALOGUES. New for 2021! Each month we will be recording and sharing a conversation with a sports person for our Inspiring Dialogues series. This month Inspiring's Paul Westgate talks to Richie Williams, Level 4 Coach and current Director of Rugby at National One Club Cambridge RUFC. Richie shares his rugby journey from watching Neath as a young boy with his father to playing for Welsh Students, and his coaching journey from Belgium and Hungary, to Head Coach of England Counties 20s and now full-time DoR at Cambridge RUFC. Richie talks about the importance of trust between a coach and his players, shares his coaching philosophy and non-negotiables (high levels of engagement, energy and desire to improve) and discusses the off-field culture he and others are developing at Cambridge (the 3Cs: Connection, Collaboration and Challenge). Richie draws on his learning from the Level 4 Course and stresses the importance of self-reflection and being self-aware. There is also time to discuss his playing philosophy and what makes a good training session! Our members can access the recording in the Coaching Practice section of our Members' Area.

RUGBY SEVENS WORKSHOP. Judging by the excellent feedback from the coaches who attended the first of our three Rugby Sevens workshops on Wednesday it was a big success. Our thanks to James Rodwell and Charlie Hayter for their insightful, interactive and informative presentation on Attack in Rugby Sevens. It is still possible to sign up for the remaining two workshops on Defence and Skills Development in Rugby Sevens on Wednesdays 13 and 20 January (6.30pm to 8.30pm). Please go this link and sign up: Non-members can sign up for the 2 sessions for £35 and Inspiring Coaching members can sign up for £21 with a discounted rate. For the discount code please contact Alex ( or Paul ( It is also possible to order a recording of the Attack in Rugby Sevens presentation. Again, please contact Alex or Paul.


ARTICLE. Article on Coaching Attack, Defence and Skills in Rugby Sevens has now been uploaded to our members' area (Coaching Practice) ahead of the webinars with James Rodwell, Charlie Hayter and Chris Davies. All three are world-class coaches. James is the most capped Rugby Sevens player of all time and has been part of the England coaching team since 2018. He is currently assistant coach across both the men's and women's Rugby Sevens programmes. Former England 7s player Charlie is the new Team Leader for GB Rugby Sevens role and is currently assistant coach across both the men's and women's Rugby Sevens programmes. Chris is a former Skills Coach and Analyst for the Fiji Rugby Union andhas coached on the World Rugby 7s Series, Commonwealth Games and RWC7s. He is currently Head of Rugby at Gordons School. In this Inspiring Coaching article James, Charlie and Chris share some thoughts and ideas for coaching attack, defence and skills in Rugby Sevens.


121s. It was nice to catch up with some Inspiring Coaching members this week and deliver some 121 e-mentoring sessions. An important offer from Inspiring Coaching is the opportunity to have a 121 e-mentoring session with either Alex or myself. We are both qualified and experienced mentors, and we enjoy supporting coaches on their coaching journeys. If you haven't yet had your complimentary 121 e-mentoring session then book now by contacting Alex or Paul.

Email or

LINK. Following on from my article last month on Non-Negotiables in Coaching I really enjoyed listening to the High Performance Podcast with Sir Clive Woodward. It may be 17 years and counting since England won the RWC but a lot of what Sir Clive discusses is still very relevant for coaches today. He talks about his journey with England (winning doesn't happen in a straight line!), looks at his Teamship Rules (the code of conduct which the players had set down and agreed that everyone should keep), shares his 3 non-negotiables (relentness learning, attitude and managing pressure) and emphasises his concept of 3D Learning (Discover, Distil and Do!). I am sure coaches will also find his process model (how to get better/win!) fascinating and applicable to a range of different environments. There is a big focus on learning (as you