Changing your story by Bill Beswick - summary notes

Beswick regarded as a pioneer of sport psychology when he began working with Derby County FC in 1995. No template for how this could apply in football. Initial interviews with player the consistent pattern was a failure to take personal responsibility and to lay blame anywhere else.

‘Responsibility means doing what you’re supposed to do, when you’re supposed to do it. It means being where you’re supposed to be, when you’re supposed to be there. It means doing what you say you’re going to do, and doing right by yourself and by others.’

Demands self-discipline – ‘Self-discipline is not easy and asks people to move from the comfortable – avoiding responsibility and blaming others – to the uncomfortable – taking responsibility and accepting accountability’.

‘The mind is the athlete, the body is simply the means.’

Culture is absorbed which is part of the reason why stories are so important.

Stories emotionalize information, validate behaviour and forge social connections, and that makes them memorable as a basis for changing our lives.

Jim Valvano USA basketball coach – If you laugh, think and cry, that is one heck of a day.

‘When beginning discussions with high-performance athletes, I tell them that the best I can do is share ideas. I cannot programme their behaviour because they alone choose their actions and they alone are responsible for their behaviour’.

Three key questions:

  • What do you want?
  • How badly do you want it?
  • How much are you willing to suffer?

Everyday we make choices – what is the difference in action and behavior between an A grade a B or a C?

I once heard Ellen MacArthur, the youngest person to sail around the world single-handedly, reveal in a speech how she was able to deal with the mast breaking but cried for a day when she ran out of teabags.

Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.’

Simple self-identity check for children is to get them to draw a picture with themselves in it.

Power of a positive story: The story of the three bricklayers. A man passing by a building site stopped and asked a bricklayer what he was doing. ‘I’m laying bricks,’ he replied. When a second bricklayer was asked the same question, he answered he was earning £10 an hour. However, when it came to the third worker, his reply was that he was building a cathedral and would be proud to show his grandchildren what he had helped to create. They were all doing the same task but they saw their role in it completely differently…

Performance follows attitude

If you don’t’ like what you’re feeling, change your thinking.

Use positive self talk to reinforce good

Competition is you, learn to get out of your own way.

Walking challenge at 0, 4′ and 12ft along a beam. As it gets higher what are the key questions you start to ask yourself?

  1. Do I want to do this?
  2. Can I do this?
  3. What do others expect of me?
  4. What if I fail?
  5. What if I succeed?

All performance begins in the mind.

6 words of phrases that best describe you as a person and 6 as a player or performer?

Fear can often be false evidence but it appears real to you. Use of triegger cards to help switch state from negative to positive.


  • I am relaxed yet ready
  • Mistakes will not deter me
  • There is nowhere else I would rather be
  • I will make this my day.

When facing a new challenge that seems too difficult start by asking, ‘Am I the problem?’ Check yourself by answering these questions:

  1. Do I want to do this? Can I do this?
  2. What do others expect of me?
  3. What if I fail?
  4. What if I succeed?

Staying confident – being your own cheerleader

Confidence has been described as what we say to ourselves about what we think about ourselves.

Aim for mastery not perfection

Words determine how we feel.

She needed to stop distorting her own story, see perfectionism as a problem, learn to lose her fear of failure, forgive her mistakes and stop overreacting to the opinions of others.

‘Perfectionism is not a behaviour but a way of thinking about yourself, where the negatives can easily drown out the positives’.

To support this, I drew three lines on a flip chart. The top line represented perfection, scored at 100 per cent. I asked Emma to score her best performance and she replied ‘90 per..

60 = 60 worse. Emma leant to focus on closing the gap from 60 – 90 not 90 – 100%

More attainable and when she had a bad game usually because of early errors which then let to negative spiral because not going to have a perfect game.

Defining the moment

‘The real bravery in sport lies in wanting the ball when the game is on the line’.

Occasional failure is the price of any challenge

Dawn Peart, the hugely experienced and long-serving British swimming team manager, once told me, ‘Most people want to be in the result and not the process. However, it’s in the process when you realize who deserves to be in the result.

Importance of emotional self-control. Much harder if:

H – Hungry

A – Angry (or Alcohol)

T – Tired

E – Emotional

D – Dehydrated…

Remember the process with the acronym SOCS: Situation, Options, Consequences, Solution

Pairs support exercise. ‘Belief partners are committed to each other’s development as athletes; they always stress the positives, constantly inject confidence and intervene when they see their partner behaving in a negative way that could undermine performance. As part of that responsibility, they were to carry out an act of kindness for their partner every day that the team was together’.

Increasing communication decreases anxiety ‘a problem only ever exists in the absence of a good conversation.’

Academy football system initially did too much for players and creating an entitlement mentality and bad attitudes. Much nmore stress now on attitude and responsibility. The messages that all players were receiving were:

  •  Be where you are supposed to be, when you are supposed to be there.
  •  Do what you are supposed to do, when you are supposed to do it.
  • Do what you say you are going to do.
  • Do it for yourself and to help the team.
  • Be responsible for your job – players who can be trusted get rewarded.
  • Be accountable – accept feedback.

Always early for practice

  • always smart and well prepared
  •  a ‘can do’ attitude
  •  enthusiastic/high-energy
  • enjoys learning
  • undeterred by mistakes
  •  selfless and a team player
  • accepts feedback
  • takes responsibility
  • supports teammates
  • a pleasure to work with…

3-Questions for prospective students to help reveal attitude and character:

  1. Who are you?
  2. Who do you want to be?
  3. 3-Things you have achieved that you are proud of that were not compulsory.

Study the people who are excellent at a goal you are aiming to achieve.

Select a role model and in a given situation ask yourself, ‘What would they do?’

‘We are more sensitive and vulnerable to negative feeling than positive ones.’