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Case Studies

The following cases outline how important coaching can be for parents. Each parent’s individual story only becomes clear during the coaching programme. Before that, the stories are happening but nearly always without the parent being fully aware of them. A big part of the coaching is bringing this to light in a way that honours what has been happening to date and gives an inspiring path forward. Often the initial stages of the coaching help to join all the dots so that the client gets to see what the key issues are in regards their relationship with their children. It’s a much valued opportunity to step off ‘automatic pilot’.

In the cases below it can be seen in real life examples how a programme is developed between the coach and the client to help enable significant progress with their child. In the examples it was not only the impact of the direct one to one sessions with the coach and the vision of the overall programme that created the positive results. Our package also includes individually designed and reviewed practices to help build the ‘muscles’ needed for clients to ensure continual and sustainable improvements. These consist of developmentally researched actions in relation to their child and then journaling and answering specific questions that bring a new depth of understanding to the situation.

This all-encompassing approach enables clients to cement new understandings and changes as seen below. Notice in the case studies how the coaching process is able to highlight where the current causes of the issues are coming from but also how to develop the skills and knowledge required to surpass these difficulties.

Roberto's Case Study - Small version

Eleven year-old Waldei was a national level tennis player but struggled to control his emotions when he played and as a result would often underperform, behave badly and aggressively, including blaming and taking it out on his mother. His dad Roberto had little involvement with his tennis, did not feel close to his son and found it too stressful to watch him play. Through the coaching Roberto realised he needed to support Waldei much more and that his stress at work and at home made it difficult to respond constructively to his son’s emotional outbursts and struggles. The coaching programme focused in on the challenges of this and through taking perspective and a practice designed to help being more present during stressful times changes started to emerge. He therefore started to build in more relaxation time, started taking more regular walks, improved his diet and engaged in a more regular exercise programme. Initial resistances were supported and an effective programme started to take shape.

As time went on in the coaching the link between his stresses from work with how he often treated Waldei was a big breakthrough. At work he could be very reactive and be triggered easily when things were not the way he wanted and he noticed the same was happening in his relationship with his son. In seeing this link he accepted this area as a key challenge for him in the coaching process. He therefore began a practice that supported setting better boundaries at work and shared more of his emotions with colleagues (e.g. expressed his struggles when he felt he had to do all the work because others were not getting back to him and how tired and stressed he was, etc.).

The next key was the realisation that he wanted to share all this with his wife which he found led him to become more productive and relaxed. As a result he became more involved at home with Waldei (including improving communication through coaching practices) and as their relationship improved he decided to see him compete for the first time which he really enjoyed. Roberto became a much better listener rather than being on an aggressive automatic pilot mode and developed a joy for being more nurturing with his children and wife. By the end of the coaching period Waldei had become more relaxed and happier and clearly showed more smiles in training. His scores for attitude and behaviour in his coaching sessions went up significantly which led him to train much better and longer and to take on board more feedback. He is now more able to control his emotions and speak about what is bothering him rather than ‘blowing up’. As a top national player, these attitude improvements were also recognised by the LTA.

Roberto's Case Study - Long version

Roberto’s background: Roberto has 2 children (Waldei and Leo) and has his own business to which he devotes a lot of time – he is the CEO of a big cement company. He has found the stress of work pretty overwhelming in his life over the last 5 to 10 years. His son Waldei, aged 11, is ranked around the top 10 tennis players in the UK. Roberto is married to Maria and she takes responsibility for most of Waldei’s involvement in tennis i.e. driving Waldei to training and tournaments, planning his tennis schedule and being there for him at training and tournaments. Roberto has been an essential source of financial support to the family, and also drives Waldei to some weekly training sessions, but has avoided watching him perform both at training and competition, preferring to sit in the tennis academy café relaxing from work stress. Waldei is a very talented athlete but struggles to control himself emotionally and often spoils a training session or a competitive match with bad and sometimes aggressive behaviour. Also, Roberto has been feeling the struggles of relating to his son at home, which combined with his stress levels from work, often lead to Roberto losing his temper with Waldei. From a brief conversation with the coach, Roberto started wondering if Waldei’s lack of emotional control was related to his own competitiveness and difficulties in controlling his emotions, and also if there could be any way to better support him in tennis. The latter led him to accept being coached.

Session 1 – Key/ insights progress:

  1. Roberto realised he needed to support Waldei more;
  2. He saw that he needed more help at work and to take more holidays;
  3. He felt “depleted” from work and family-related stress, hence why his threshold to respond to emotions was so low;
  4. He saw that he needed to slow down his pace of living and realised he did things on automatic pilot and often would not think them through thoroughly;
  5. Both coach and Roberto agreed on the topic: “To decrease levels of stress both inside and outside work and, at the same time, find new ways to support Waldei better in Tennis and improve the relationship between the two of them”.

Session 2 – Key/ insights progress:

  1. Knowing the inner struggles of Roberto’s topic, the coach created a metaphor that would best describe his current way (The way of the Lonely Lion), i.e. how he orients and makes decisions around the topic, and a second metaphor that could serve as an inspiration and support for Roberto’s development of a new way (The way of the Loving Eagle);
  2. The Lonely Lion helped to illustrate a number of things for Roberto. This included how he was generally stressed and could easily be triggered, and that he showed distance from all his son’s performances and struggles in tennis. Further, his main concern was acting as the provider of essential goods like money, travel, food, etc. The Loving Eagle was more relaxed and could easily fly back to support Waldei and his family not only with the main essentials, but also with love; the latter would nurture Roberto back and help him deal with his high stress levels, making him feel more understood in the family for his own struggles. Importantly, the Eagle gave Roberto a sense of being able to see the big picture because he is able to fly, whereas the Lion can only stay on the ground. Finally, he would also be progressively more present around his son’s tennis both at training and, more importantly, competition.
  3. It was not easy for Roberto to receive his current way metaphor and some resistance was shown to it, unlike the new way which he really seemed to like;
  4. Next both coach and Roberto decided on the necessary Developmental Objectives, which would be worked with specifically designed practices (accompanied by journaling) to develop the “muscles” needed to become successful in the topic: 1) You are more able to be in touch with your emotions and to express them to the ones close to you both at work and outside it; 2) You are more able to relax your body and mind, both at work and at home; 3) You are more able to support Waldei through tennis and other life activities; 4) You are more able to connect to the significant people in your life by expressing more of yourself whilst at the same time listening more fully to what they need;
  5. The coach proceeded to prescribe practices (1 per session) for Roberto to engage in through the coaching process that would work the necessary “muscles” for his new way to emerge and become sustainable after the coaching was completed;
  6. Roberto started becoming more supportive of his son and went to see him for the first time in a tennis tournament;
  7. Realising he would like to be more engaged with Maria in house tasks, Roberto started sharing his emotions more with her, and also realised he wanted to feel more supportive in her life.

Session 3 – Key/ insights progress:

  1. Roberto realised how he was so stuck in his reactive mode, and that this trait brought him stress at work and within his family environment. He started seeing how quickly he could react with his family, and already brought examples of relating better to his wife and son by an improvement in communication;
  2. Roberto increased his awareness of his depleted energy levels due to all the stress he experienced in his life. He even started to show the first signs of slowing down the pace he normally operated at and started to implement more change at work, deciding to go for a walk on his lunch break instead of driving to the restaurant;
  3. He became more aware of his emotional threshold, also knowing he may “relapse”, although understanding that this could be a common part of the growth/coaching process;
  4. He grew more aware of all that was going on in his life, which let him start asking where his place was in the big picture;
  5. He felt a deep love for his daughter and realised that she can be so funny;
  6. He realised that a lot of his stress at work stemmed from his disorganization with different things and therefore started working on becoming more organized;
  7. He started engaging in house tasks that had been waiting to be done for a long time;
  8. He started going to the gym more frequently.

Session 4 – Key/ insights progress:

  1. Roberto started becoming calmer and more in touch with his emotions;
  2. He realised how much more he was nurturing the family and how a new joy was emerging from this;
  3. He started supporting Waldei more by speaking to him more, being more present at his training sessions and tournaments;
  4. He realised he did not want to keep taking on too much at work and started setting new boundaries regarding the amount of work and his organizational issues. His improvement in the latter started bringing more positive things at work, i.e. more connection with work colleagues, higher efficiency in his work productivity and less time spent on work-duties when at home;
  5. He started becoming more conscious of his emotions through a greater awareness of his body and started sharing his emotions more with people around him, i.e. work colleagues, his secretary who as a consequence became more productive and his family, especially Waldei;
  6. He was more able to relax at work and started to find new ways of relaxing more at home.

Session 5 – Key/ insights progress:

  1. Roberto showed more awareness of the Lonely Lion regarding his emotional threshold – when he got triggered he was a lot quicker to realise what he had done and control himself. This led to a stronger emergence of the Loving Eagle who felt more connected to his wife and children, he kept improving communication with Waldei and also with work colleagues;
  2. He realised more clearly how he would put “stuff” off from work as a first reaction and how he then started looking at it with fresh eyes and less resistance;
  3. Roberto felt that he could keep striving for better communication at work, but also understood that it was something that would take time to improve;
  4. He associated the stress from work with his anger and frustration (Lonely Lion traits) that could, at times, be put out onto his surroundings, including Waldei;
  5. He realised that the Loving Eagle within him could listen to people properly and found he was no longer on “automatic pilot” mode.

Session 6 – Key/ insights progress:

  1. Roberto became more aware of how tense he was in the evenings and now can reflect more on stepping back and not allowing himself to take his stress out on others and as a result has become less agitated, stressed, worried and tense;
  2. He realised that growth and change is a challenging process but one that is needed because of the rewards it brings;
  3. He has become more aware of the times when the Lonely Lion emerges within him and therefore has become sharper on making a change in these moments;
  4. He has become more caring at home and at work, enjoying special moments with wife and friends and also just by himself;
  5. He has lost weight through taking a deeper look at his diet and consequently started feeling more energized and more focused generally;
  6. He became a lot more present in Waldei’s tennis and now accompanies him to tournaments, and appreciates the challenges of this for Waldei;
  7. Roberto was now starting to show a much deeper resonance with his current way metaphor and stated that the fact that he resisted it slightly was simply because what he had been given was a mirror that he didn’t like to look at.

Impact on Waldei’s tennis:
Waldei showed impressive signs of improvement after the very first coaching session had taken place. Now Waldei is more relaxed arriving at training sessions, is more able to control his emotions, feels very motivated by his father’s support and seems to be generally “lighter” in how he approaches his tennis. His scores for attitude and behaviour in his coaching sessions have increased significantly and his coach is able to get much more out of him during the sessions as he rarely has to leave the court because of his emotions now. In tennis tournaments Waldei has shown an enhanced level of focus and confidence, and is better able to accept losses or a performance that does not match his own expectations.

Jessica's Case Study - Small version

Jessica hated the thought of being a pushy or over pressurising parent so typically left her 13 year old son Keaton to do his own thing. Keaton was very talented but lacked discipline in training. As well as not being very involved with Keaton’s tennis Jessica was lacking proactivity in her own life more generally. During the first coaching session she was supported to see the link between being unsure and uninvolved with Keaton and feeling a similar way in her life in general. She had recently achieved her goals within her business and had lots of time spare and a sufficient income without needing to work and now did not really know what to do with her time. Through understanding the bigger picture with her coach she decided to make this the topic of her coaching as she was confident that if this issue was hit head on it would help to reach the cause of her lack of involvement with Keaton.

As the sessions went on it became clear how overly conscious she was of what others would think of her if she acted differently and did some of the things she wanted such as taking on more meaningful work. In recognition of this and through further coaching practices, like skilfully asking for feedback from others and speaking more honestly, she started to appreciate more of her positive skills and abilities. It now became a strong drive for her to have something for herself in her life and she began to feel reconnected to a determined energy she had always had in her youth. These things in combination allowed her to let go of the need to explain herself to others and she proactively explored new avenues of work and things to do with her time. She quickly gained an important role in a charity which built her confidence further which led to her to start guiding Keaton more and she soon saw how effective this was.

Another illustration of the changes taking place in Jessica through the coaching was when she stood up in front of 4000 people at work and did an inspiring speech which she had never done anything like before. This once more illustrates how she kept gaining trust in herself and in her ability to lead others which was a key competency the coaching had been focusing on. This directly led to her taking more much needed leadership and involvement with Keaton’s tennis. She has now helped him to set goals, work harder, prepare better, deal with losses, become more disciplined, improve his sportsmanship and understand just what it takes to become great at something. Shortly after the coaching Keaton’s improvements were not only felt by his coach and importantly himself but he was selected at national level for the first time.

Jessica's Case Study - Long version

Jessica’s background: Having attended a parental workshop on how parents could better support their children in sport Jessica thought she’d give the coaching a try as a way to better support her son Keaton. She hated the thought of being a pushy parent and therefore left Keaton to “do his own thing” in tennis. The reality was that Keaton was now 13 and was a very promising tennis player with a genuine love for the sport. Jessica had a very good relationship with him but he was lacking discipline and would easily lose focus in training and competitions. Jessica is a highly successful self-made business woman and was at a turning point in her life having to decide what she wanted to do next. Her business ran itself and although she had always worked towards this, she was getting a bit bored with her current easy lifestyle. She felt she was lacking proactivity and generally felt a bit unsure about how to move forward in life but thought there was maybe something else that she could do that would be more fulfilling.

Session 1 – Key Insights/ progress:

  1. Jessica realised she was completely leaving Keaton to deal with his sport by himself because she was worried about acting as a pushy parent;
  2. She realised she lacked confidence and that she worried about what others might think of some of the changes she was thinking of making in her life (e.g. engaging in more meaningful work to help provide more opportunities for others);
  3. The coach made the link between becoming generally more proactive in her life and certain about what she wanted to do, and how this would likely help her to also become more proactively involved in Keaton’s tennis and confident in guiding him;
  4. If she could provide Keaton with more direction and guidance and also hold him a bit more accountable to his goals this would be of great benefit to Keaton;
  5. Both agreed on the topic for Jessica: “To explore and come up with what you now want to do in your life”;
  6. As sometimes happens, by a parent following a coaching topic more specific to themselves, there will be a significant knock-on effect on helping them to better support their child in sport. This is what Jessica wanted to do as she felt she could perhaps kill two birds with one stone.

Session 2 – Key Insights/ progress:

  1. Metaphors were created by the coach to firstly help Jessica see how her current way of dealing with things was in her topic – The way of the Unsure Cutting-edge Designer. This brought to light and captured how she actually had some great skills and ideas but felt stuck and didn’t feel much support or confidence to move forwards with them;
  2. A new way-of-being metaphor was also created to help inspire and support her moving forwards in her topic – The way of the Inspiring Leader. This was a metaphor to help Jessica build trust in her instincts, inspire others and push her comfort zone while seeing the bigger picture;
  3. While the coach came up with the metaphors Jessica helped flesh them out and liked both. However, she found it quite hard to acknowledge how unsure and stuck she was in terms of coming up and moving forwards with new things to do in her life;
  4. The coach also designed Developmental Objectives which are like the muscles Jessica would build over the coaching programme to support her progress in her topic and would form the basis of the practices (accompanied by journaling) that would be set for her in between sessions: 1) To have a greater clarity of your own passions and what most matters to you; 2) To be more willing to go into the unknown, make mistakes and trust your own direction; 3) To be prepared to go more with what you want and lead the way for others.

Session 3 – Key Insights/ progress:

  1. It had become apparent just how important it was for Jessica to have something of her own in her life due to the sacrifices she had made with her family over the previous year;
  2. She felt really moved by this and it also gave her more determination and energy to move forwards in finding out what she wanted to do with her life;
  3. There was a strong shift in her energy from being very down about her family situation to positively wanting to move forwards with things;
  4. She started gaining more confidence as part of her practice had been to gain feedback from others about herself, who reflected a lot of her positive skills and qualities.

Session 4 – Key Insights/ progress:

  1.  Jessica had made strong progress in terms of enquiring into and narrowing down the different things she could start to do with her life;
  2.  She had a renewed confidence and felt she did not need to explain herself to others in relation to these plans and ideas, which was a big shift;
  3.  This was a strong characteristic of the Inspiring Leader showing up, i.e. she may explain herself to others but also will not waste time with it if she does not feel it necessary;
  4.  Jessica was a lot more positive and excited continuing with her topic.

Session 5 – Key Insights/ progress:

  1. Jessica had made some big decisions in her life and, after an interview she was offered an important role within a charity mentoring children;
  2. She felt really moved by this and happy to be involved in something that was truly meaningful to her;
  3. She had inspired quite a few of her friends with the projects she was starting to get involved in and was also starting to talk a lot more with Keaton with guidance for him in his tennis;
  4. She pushed her comfort zone amazingly by taking the microphone at a big work event in front of 4000 people and spoke to the coach about ‘how she would rather cut her arm off’ than stand in front of this many people to speak. The speech received a standing ovation and was a great illustration of the Inspiring Leader emerging in her life.

Session 6 – Key Insights/ progress:

  1. Jessica’s increased confidence and trust in herself along with a greater sense of getting involved and being proactive has helped her to spend a lot more time with Keaton around his tennis;
  2. She has helped him to set goals, work harder, prepare better, deal with losses, become more disciplined, improve his sportsmanship and understand just what it takes to become great at something;
  3. She has managed to inspire Keaton to improve his overall attitude within tennis but also in life more generally;
  4. The cross-over between Jessica’s personal topic of deciding what she wanted to do with her life has now been fully integrated with her ability to better support Keaton with his tennis.

Impact on Keaton’s tennis:
Keaton has become an all-round more disciplined athlete. He’s enjoyed his mum’s involvement and respects the advice and guidance that she has brought. The extra accountability has also helped him to stick to his ambitious goals more thoroughly and this has boosted his confidence in competition too. As a result of improvements to Keaton’s performance he was selected to compete with the national team for the first time since he started tennis. Keaton’s sportsmanship has also improved, he appreciates his opportunities in his sport more and his coaches find him better at listening and applying himself through his coaching sessions.

Beth's Case Study

Beth’s Case Study

Beth’s background: Beth is a working mum holding a job as a Bank Manager in a local bank. She is a conscientious parent who was motivated to give her children a holistic education through sport. She came to coaching because her daughter Linda (aged 15) was having a lot of difficulties with her tennis often losing confidence with herself, becoming depressed and sometimes even lashing out in anger. Linda’s younger sister Joanne (aged 10) had also started to play tennis and was showing promise in a new coaching program in the area that was offering good opportunities for young athletes. This was not available for Linda when she was Joanne’s age. This was adding to Linda’s low confidence and inconsistent behaviour. On court she often had suspect injuries, was difficult to coach and was extremely nervous and introverted in competitions. Beth found it difficult to communicate with Linda and was also worried that she might have influenced her behaviour and feelings of insecurity.

Session 1 – Key/ insights progress:

  1. Beth found that she was on high alert with Linda and felt that she had to abide by her moods. Linda would refuse to speak about herself and often become strongly withdrawn when shown affection or praise;
  2. Beth would worry a lot and not know how to deal with the situation. She had always kept strong boundaries but found it difficult to apply appropriate sanctions to discipline some of the more difficult emotional behaviour displayed by Linda;
  3. Although so many pieces were in place in her family life, Linda caused her much upset. Her difficult behaviour had become an accepted part of the family system with limited structures in place to support her;
  4. Her uncertainty and avoidance of challenging herself in sport was also clearer;
  5. Beth also realised that she was acting more from a place of damage limitation where she was cleaning up the mess and battled on in adversity even though she really didn’t like what was happening;
  6. Both coach and Beth agreed on the topic: “To be more able to relate with my daughter Linda to give her more support and guidance”.

Session 2 – Key/ insights progress:

  1. Beth was offered metaphors to help her relate to her situation with more clarity. The metaphor portraying her current way was entitled: The way of the Red Cross Nurse. This symbol was to help Beth see that around her daughter she could become like the famous nurses in war time. Always working hard to tend to the surface wounds of the soldiers, but unable to give them any deeper support. Beth agreed she sometimes despaired and felt that she lacked adequate training to help heal and support the needs of the soldiers;
  2. The current way metaphor highlighted Beth’s great care for her daughter and her maternal instincts to help her. It also showed that the Nurse struggled to know what to do when Linda became overwhelmed by her environment and she became aware of her difficulties around supporting Linda when she froze on a match court, or when she refused to get her bag ready for training or when she shouted that nobody cared about her;
  3. The second metaphor represented a potential new way of relating to Linda: The way of the Loving Lioness. It was a symbol to inspire the strength and independence of a Lioness in balance with her healthy maternal instincts. The image that most inspired Beth was the Lioness sitting back relaxed, with her cubs coming to her. She also expressed how far away this seemed at the time of the coaching;
  4. From the metaphors three key Developmental Objectives were outlined as follows: 1) To develop the capacity to be with strong emotions in yourself and in your daughter, especially in times of stress; 2) To create fair and honest boundaries with compassion even when you are challenged; 3) To feel empowered and enriched by the time you have for yourself and seeing its role in helping your relationships;
  5. The developmental objectives helped the coach to prescribe specific practices together with journaling, with the purpose of strengthening the “muscles” needed for Beth to progressively become more aware of her current way of interacting with Linda and consequently, allowing space for the emergence of her new way.

Session 3 – Key/ insights progress:

  1. At this stage, journaling was used to help Beth really notice what was happening in Linda’s world and her interactions with her daughter. The Red Cross Nurse noticed fears and doubts around her parenting skills, which she had not been previously aware of;
  2. The great part of this was Beth’s ability to pause at the precise moment of interaction with Linda to stop and get a clearer picture of her current way of being. From this Beth was able to see that she often went into nursing mode, fussing over Linda and trying to ‘tend to her wounds’, when unsure what to do with difficult behaviour; this was a big step forward in the topic;
  3. The coach then discussed how the Lioness would be able to stand firm in uncertainty and only act when she knew it was important to do so. However, this could only happen when Beth had learned more about the Nurse and had built capacities that were needed to be more like a Lioness when confronted by Linda’s behaviour.

Session 4 – Key/ insights progress:

  1. Beth found it new and liberating to look at herself in a deeper way without being critical and uncertain;
  2. She realised it was her own lack of confidence that led her to want to protect Linda from the difficulties she had in her sports and her own moods;
  3. Through seeing more clearly how she felt with Linda, Beth discovered she could separate her own confidence as a mother from her daughter’s behaviour, i.e. while she was showing her nursing characteristics she was not fully understanding Linda’s needs;
  4. Beth kept being encouraged to try and “fit” into Linda’s shoes so she could understand her world better. This was building the Lioness traits and her ability to stay calm and present to her cubs, whilst not getting involved when it was not really needed, trusting the cubs more to learn from their own experience.

Session 5 – Key/ insights progress:

  1. The previous prescribed practice of seeing Linda ‘where she was’, really opened Beth to how she had been occupied with her own emotions;
  2. Her own fears of being a good mother created the need to ‘over-nurse’ Linda;
  3. The irony she started noticing was that this did not work so well anyway because she didn’t like being ‘nursed’;
  4. When Beth started stepping into the Lioness way of being Linda responded well and was empowered;
  5. At the same time some of the strong emotional characteristics of the Red Cross Nurse became less intense. This led the coach to help her look at how she could empower herself as the Lioness to feel more confident.

Session 6 – Key/ insights progress:

  1. The coaching continued with Beth looking at her own personal development and a new level of insight and resolution with Linda emerged;
  2. Linda, as a result started enjoying her tennis more and joined a better club to improve her tennis. This was a big deal for Linda as it was the club her sister was playing at and had some the top players and good-level coaching in the county;
  3. She even started to play Tennis with her younger sister which had previously been virtually impossible;
  4. Beth found the coaching opened up an unexpected interest in self-development.

Impact on Linda’s tennis:

Beth felt she had a better understanding of what her daughter was feeling about herself and her sport. The practices helped her step back and separate her own worries and concerns from Linda’s. From this place, Linda became much more relaxed and approachable about her sport. She started to play more and developed a new confidence resulting in her moving to a performance programme that would push her to the next level in her game. She also joined squads at a club with stronger players and started to compete and challenge herself with less anxiety and “mystery” injuries. She can still be challenging and Beth still has to maintain strong boundaries, but she feels the Lioness holds the balance most of the time. The best development for Linda meant that she could play Tennis with her younger sister and with other juniors no longer shying away or becoming anxious or aggressive.

Anna's Case Study - Long version

Anna’s background: Anna came for coaching because she found watching her son Richard compete very stressful and would sometimes find it hard to eat at tournaments as the stress would “get to her”. Richard was an only child, aged 8 and ranked within the best 10 tennis players in the country. She would also get stressed during training if her son was not playing well. As a result, Anna would often get angry with Richard and make comments about his lack of speed, sloppy technique or lack of effort. Due to the high stress levels she would often be unfairly critical towards Richard. Having this pressure on him, Richard would often feel worried and stressed during training or tennis tournaments, i.e. if things didn’t go his way his head would drop and he would often appear unhappy. Consequently, he would not put more mental or physical effort into what he was doing.

Session 1 – Key/ insights progress:

  1. Anna felt very stressed because of all the time, money and effort that was going into Richard’s tennis;
  2. She needed benchmarks that would reassure her that Richard was going to make it to high level and therefore it would be worth all the effort;
  3. If a bad performance occurred Anna would get very stressed and insecure, questioning the latter and sometimes looking to blame Richard on his effort levels;
  4. Because of high stress levels her expectations of Richard’s performances often became unfair and unrealistic, especially considering Richard’s young age;
  5. Richard was therefore frequently feeling bad about himself and his tennis and felt under a lot of pressure – he would easily get down on himself in training and struggled to play in a relaxed way in tournaments;
  6. Both coach and Anna agreed on the topic to work on: “Help Richard to be successful in tennis and reach his potential because tennis is so important for him”.

Session 2 – Key/ insights progress:

  1. From having gained a good insight into how Anna was approaching her topic, the coach created a metaphor that would best describe her current way-of-being in it (The way of the Relentless Marathon Runner), i.e. how she oriented and made decisions around the topic. Her current way metaphor attempted to describe how Anna was continuously stressed around Richard and how she aspired to him becoming a great athlete. A second metaphor was also created, which would serve as inspiration and support for Anna’s development of a new way (The way of the Inspiring Counsellor) on her topic. The new way attempted to inspire Anna to become more understanding with Richard’s reality, enabling her to nurture him more instead of pressuring him continuously;
  2. Anna did not like the current way metaphor when it was offered, but with some discussion around the issue she started to show more understanding and, albeit hard, she realised it actually illustrated her common traits around her son’s tennis;
  3. After having offered the metaphors, the coach presented the Developmental Objectives for Anna’s topic: 1) You are more able to understand the purpose behind your actions and the things you want to achieve in the long term; 2) You are more able to act appropriately and calm yourself when feeling stressed, especially in front of your son; 3) You are more able to have a deeper understanding and respect of other people’s perspectives to help you relate better with them;
  4. The developmental objectives helped the coach to prescribe specific practices (accompanied by journaling reports) that would work the “muscles” Anna needed in order to progress through the topic;
  5. The coach proceeded to offer Anna her first practice which had the objective of getting her familiar with her current way-of-being in the topic. Specific focused work and practices to develop the new way would start after the following coaching session;
  6. Anna felt open to talk about things she wouldn’t usually speak about because she felt the right atmosphere was in place, even though this was not easy for her.

Session 3 – Key/ insights progress:

  1. Anna showed more signs of becoming aware of her current way i.e. her journal entries related to stress levels as a result of watching Richard play, how she would tense up when watching him, and how her thoughts would often wander to how Richard could become a top tennis athlete, which in turn would cause even more stress;
  2. She became more aware of her anxiety levels around tournaments, which then tended to be pushed onto Richard through feelings of disappointment towards him;
  3. She related for the first time to her having shame for her son not winning his main event on home territory and how being around other parents left her feeling bad;
  4. The first signs of her new way started to emerge, as she started improving the way she communicated with Richard by reflecting more on what to say when she met him after his performances – before she would tend to react quickly “jumping in with both feet”, which was a reflection of her current way.

Session 4 – Key/ insights progress:

  1. Anna started becoming more interested in knowing really what it was like for her son to play tennis;
  2. She shared her struggles and difficulties of being a parent, which helped her to understand her own stress;
  3. She started feeling better about herself and her family’s investment of time and money in her child’s tennis and she could understand the benefits for Richard and how many of these were not just reliant on him becoming a top tennis player;
  4. She showed more awareness of her highly-reactive emotional style and realised that she would normally stress both herself and Richard regarding the upcoming tournaments.

Session 5 – Key/ insights progress:

  1. It was during a tournament that Anna felt she had a breakthrough with Richard’s tennis where she realised clearly how her frequent nervous behaviour was putting pressure on Richard;
  2. She got a real sense for the first time, of what competing must be like for Richard, the challenges of remembering his technique, dealing with tricky opponents and the pressurising score system. This helped a real emergence of the characteristics of the Inspiring Counsellor in her as she felt drawn to support him and be there for him rather than feeling critical towards him.
  3. Through specific practices that focused on her emotional awareness and body, Anna started noticing her more egocentric ways of dealing with her son’s tennis and wanted to change this by allowing Richard to express his views and thoughts more;
  4. From this time onwards Richard’s tennis coach started noticing a considerable difference with Richard’s practice: instead of coming to training feeling moody, he started smiling more and clearly being less worried about training. This allowed the coach to get much more out of Richard during a session than beforehand.

Session 6 – Key/ insights progress:

  1. During her last practice Anna came to realise and felt relieved that other parents were experiencing similar challenges and stresses in their efforts to support their children;
  2. She gained a greater and deeper understanding of her son’s reality through a better understanding of what it was like for Richard to live tennis, the pressures he was under, the challenges involved and that actually nearly all the time he was trying his best and doing really well all things considered;
  3. She realised it usually wasn’t his fault when he made mistakes that she had previously criticized;
  4. She continued to improve communication with Richard by being more positive and asking questions if she did not understand something, rather than telling him off. She felt overall she now had a better relationship with Richard;
  5. She became clearer on her purpose for supporting Richard in tennis and could take a more long term view. She could also see more clearly the benefits of Richard’s involvement in tennis and this added to her growing ability to calm herself.

Impact on Richard’s tennis:
Richard has shown clear all-round improvements in his game because of his far better ability to train and not get down on himself. He can now take stronger feedback, face tougher situations on court and works better with his team mates. He rarely has any tantrums and has become calmer and a much better performer in tournaments as he is not feeling the same pressure. Richard has gone from a borderline national talent ID player where his attitude had been questioned, to one of the best in the country for his age. In the last two years Richard has only lost nationally to one other player in his own age group, which is an exceptional record.