How can you inspire others, if you can’t inspire yourself?

To kick off 2023, I’ve had the privilege of teaching a coaching & leadership class to undergraduate students at a tip-top Canadian university. This has been a great experience in so many ways, but the best part has always been how the students have responded to the learnings of the course and interacted with the key messages to improve their coaching each class.

They are so enthusiastic, so eager to learn, and they’ve massively helped in creating a positive class culture. Unfortunately the time that I get to spend with them always remains very small, so I have to ensure I’m making that impact and doing my part to build and maintain that positive class culture with each step I take in class.

During our last session together, we discussed coaching topics that naturally bring out the best in athletes, and the best out of the environments that you want to create. One of the groups chose “communication” as their session topic when coaching volleyball, another did theirs on “self-efficacy” during a lesson in soccer. I brought up how session topics like these are great because they naturally allow players to talk. To connect with one another. To learn from each other. To gain inspiration from factors outside of the sporting experience.

Critically, they allow you as a coach to connect with your athletes on a deeper level. To gain inspiration from them. To focus on more than just the technical aspects of the game, which is the number one thing that coaches get stuck on.

The technical minutiae of the sport tends to matter less than you think. Why? Because very few of our athletes are ever going to go pro. And all of our athletes have their own unique differences. What works for one athlete might not always work for another, and one technical piece of advice might not always apply across the board to every athlete in every context. Instead, we want them to enjoy their experience, and come back each and every day excited to be there. To hammer home the point – the technical side of any sport is the least important of the five corners.

What are the most important of the five corners? The social and the psychological. When you are thinking about building team culture or ensuring your athletes are enjoying their experience and returning year after year, you will naturally create buy-in. You will naturally inspire them. You will naturally build that winning mentality and winning culture that your ego wants you to bring out in your athletes. Session topics like communication and self-efficacy, allow you to do exactly that. They allow you to build positive team cultures, and create memorable experiences for athletes.

Let me ask you this – do you actually remember the specific technical advice that coaches gave you growing up in sports? Probably a few moments here and there. But probably very little. Instead – what do you remember?

Chances are, you remember how your coaches made you feel. Whether it was a good experience, or a bad one. Your friends on the team, the people that made the experience what it was. The overall environment and culture surrounding your time enjoying the sport. This is what we remember.

So when I’m describing this to my class now, I’m making the effort to be relatable and I bring up dating, and they all go ‘PLEASE CONTINUE. I NEED THAT DATING ADVICE, RHYS.’ So I’m telling them, next time a friend comes up and asks you for dating advice and they say ‘I like this person…What should I say to them?’ The specific advice you give in that moment does not matter. It does not matter what you say. What’s more important is HOW YOU MAKE THEM FEEL.

How do you motivate them? How do you encourage them? How do you lead them toward where they want to be led? You ask them questions. You get them to come up with the answers. You challenge their beliefs in some moments when needed, and you confirm and encourage their beliefs in other moments. The specifics to the advice…it does not matter. It’s not about what you say. It’s about how you make people feel. That’s what matters.

So why do you we still have forty year old men yelling at kids and slamming their baseball caps down when a player doesn’t make it to first base? It makes zero sense and it’s ALL EGO. Put that aside, focus on positive culture, and build in positive culture into each and every session REGARDLESS of your topic for the day.

So then it becomes a question of – how do you actually do that?? It needs to start from within. This is truly the secret sauce. You cannot create a positive culture for your athletes if you cannot create a positive mindset for yourself. They will see right through you. They won’t buy into what you’re putting down. They won’t trust that your coaching will lead them to success.

So what are you doing at this very moment to be the best version of yourself? To take your life to the place you want to go? Are you…working with a therapist to work through the demons still lingering from your past? Are you doing the things that you enjoy? Or are you still living the life that SOMEONE ELSE wants you to live? Are you investing in yourself – your time, your financial resources, your energy – each and every single day to improve the areas that you need to improve? Importantly, is what you are doing right now actually setting you up for the life that you want to live? Seriously. How can you inspire others, if you cannot inspire yourself? So what are you going to do right now to take your life to where you want it to go?

Thanks for reading & see you soon!

Strava Profile | Rhys Desmond


My method for optimal recovery: POSSM

In my own recovery journey and subsequent battles through injury, I’ve developed my own acronym for how I want to recover in time for the next effort. I call it ‘POSSM’.

My theory on race stimulation: 2x race practices

For every short distance run I’ve done over the years, I’ve always held onto a critical rule of thumb. Sometime in training, usually with three and then two weeks to go until race day, I practice my race distance at tempo pace. The point of these runs is not to actually test the intended race…


Be sure to check out my latest coaching advice, analyses, and tactics!
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As the founder of back in 2016, I have proudly created one of the biggest coaching & analysis websites about the beautiful game. Combining my knowledge of writing, coaching, analysis and the game as a whole, I want to help you take your craft to the next level.

In 2020, I helped over 75 undergraduate students at Western University in London, ON, develop their coaching craft, in a three month Coaching & Leadership course. A month later, I began my path as the Technical Director of the club I started my coaching career with, helping coach, mentor and develop close to 100 coaches. In 2021, I began working with current and former professional players, helping them develop their knowledge and ideas about the game, improve their performance and prepare for life in the coaching world. Throughout that time, I have accumulated training through MBP and the PFSA in the realms of analysis, scouting and performance-based football; the OS, CSA, and HighFive in coaching & mentorship; and worked with coaches & athletes around the world from 20+ nations. I have since returned to Western University to continue mentoring young, aspiring coaches, as a University Lecturer in their Kinesiology department – specifically for their course on Coaching & Leadership.

I have also expanded my consultation masterclass on TheMastermindSite, working with professional players, former pros developing their coaching craft, industry-leading writers, and aspiring, young athletes looking to one day reach stardom. Not every environment has the ability to afford a performance analyst or coach, so I offer an accessible option for athletes and coaches to take their knowledge and game understanding to the next level, developing solutions, training techniques and tactical understandings in a 1-on-1 setting where continuous feedback can be applied.

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One response to “How can you inspire others, if you can’t inspire yourself?”

  1. […] a performance analystSome of my key philosophies to life wrapped up in one article…-> How can you inspire others if you can’t inspire yourself?Insights into what you will come to expect from working with me… -> Why the technical, […]


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