You Control Your Response

Do you see Mud or Stars?

Perspective is up to you



In 1968 A young self admittedly ‘mediocre’ student at Central Washington State College with an obviously better attitude to partying fell afoul of the local legal system. The local judge ordered him to spend weekends in jail—punishment for underage drinking. Each weekend he reported to the local jail to serve his punishment. One night in the cell he hoisted himself up to look out the barred glass. His more experienced cellmate asked him what the evening view was like. “What do you see, Jimmy?” The youth scanned the views of freedom outside. “A muddy parking lot” he replied. The older inmate laid back against the wall “From down here, I see stars in the night sky,” he said. “It’s your choice. You can look at stars or mud.”

“Humans see what they want to see.” ― Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief

It’s All in the Mind

Life will throw events at us, sometimes self-inflicted and sometimes randomly not of our own doing. There’s always two ways to look at every dire circumstance – even from behind the bars of a cell, look at the mud or look at the stars. Often, we need someone to remind us too.

“Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.” ― Marcus Aurelius

An NFL linebacker once strolled into my office on a Monday morning. He looked downcast and somewhat distraught. I stopped what I was doing and asked him what was concerning him. “I missed a bad tackle yesterday Ferg. The first touchdown was my mistake. I went to cover and shouldn’t have”. I leaned back on my chair and smiled. This was one of our best players and actually had an outstanding game by anyone’s measure but he was so hung up on the one single mistake he made. “Are you looking at a birthday cake?” I said. He looked at me with a confused look. “What do you mean”. I said “I think you might be too hard on yourself. You had a great all round game and made one mistake. All you can think of is the one mistake – which you can learn from. It’s like you have just been handed this fabulous cake for your birthday surrounded by family and loved ones and the only thing you see is a fire from candles.” He thought for a moment and then laughed. “Yeh, that’s actually a great way to describe it”. Sometimes we only see mistakes completely out of context. A few months later the same guy called me to tell me he’d used the same ‘Birthday Cake” metaphor with the new quarterback who was also beating himself up.

“When you Change the Way you Look at Things, the Things You Look at Change”-Wayne Dyer

Incidentally, you probably heard of that once wayward student ‘Jimmy’, but know of him better today as retired General Jim Mattis, legendary US Corp Marine General and former Secretary of Defense. From that experience Jim Mattis “learned that no matter what happened, I wasn’t a victim; I made my own choices how to respond. You don’t always control your circumstances, but you can always control your response.” *
– Mattis, Jim. Call Sign Chaos. Random House Publishing Group.

‘I most enjoy being able to help people.’ : Inspirational Leader Series with Christian Bosse

‘I most enjoy being able to help people.’

“I realized that there is a perception of me of being very successful …

but when I reflect on the successes, every single one of them started from a failure.”

“I was so worried about looking after everyone else,
I wasn’t looking after myself’

I was honored to be asked to speak with Christian Bosse about high performance recently.

Christian studied sport science in Berlin (Germany), Madrid (Spain) and the prestigious Sport University of Cologne (Germany).

He has an impressive resume, having worked for the British Tennis Association LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) as the responsible strength and conditioning coach for the Junior Davis Cup Team, working with high-level tennis coaches such as Paul Annacone (former coach of Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, and Tim Henman) and Brad Gilbert (former coach of Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray).
He has also worked for the Chinese, and Dutch National Olympic Committee as a strength and conditioning coach.

We discuss

Background in computer integration based optimization and what it means
How I got into Sports Science and became a performance expert
Darkest moment
Best moment
Advice to young aspiring performance experts
The role of artificial intelligence and technological disruption in the future of sports
Advice to a younger Fergus Connolly
Philosophy on supporting a team
Which person has influenced me most and why
How to deal with expectations you don’t agree with
How to manage expectations
A typical day in the life of a performance expert
Motivation to write books
How to How to implement performance support services
Interview nomination

Enjoy :

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Online Courses – Team Sport Programming – OUT NOW

Planning in Team Sport

Online Course – Out Now!

Programming in Team Sport
Learn how the best Teams Plan and Program for Sustained Winning!
The Differences of Team Sport Players
Team Sports players are the same – but different (!) than olympic athletes or powerlifters. So how do we develop them? How do we train game intelligence AND physical fitness? Learn how …

How do you Plan?
Unlike other sports Team Sports have regular games and need to continuously win each week – learning and developing – so what is the best approach for developing these players?

How do we develop Game Intelligence
Physical fitness is important, but arguably more important is developing Tactical and Technical (skill) abilities at the same time, not to mention the psychological ability to manage emotion and decision making – find out how!

Profiling the Person & Player
How do you prepare each person as a unique individual? How do you plan and strategize for every kind of person you have on your team? Find out how to profile, scout and develop every player for continuous development.

Recovery & Regeneration
Training is fine, but every coach knows the recovery and restoration of the players is critical to winning. How do we allow players recover and peak every week, yet still improve? Find out how to keep the fitness / freshness balance!

Team Sport Programming

Course Modules & Topics Covered
What you will learn …

Lesson I – The Basics of Team Sport Preparation – Principles and Concepts behind the Methodology

Lesson 2 – Day Types & Principles – Planning an Rationale

Lesson 3 – Drill & Game Variables – Manipulation for Effect & Experience

Lesson 4 – Designing Small Sided Games – The Decision Tree

Lesson 5 – Work:Rest Ratios for Drills & Games – How to Design for Energy Systems

Lesson 6 – Introduction to Weekly Planning – The Principles of the Morphocycle

Lesson 7 – Case Studies in Variations – Changing the Week for your Team

Lesson 8 – Planning Regeneration & Recovery – How to Plan for Fitness vs Freshness

Lesson 9 – Case Study – NFL & College Sport – Looking at an Annual Plan

Lesson 10 – Individualization in Team Sports – Reducing Limiting Factors in the Team Context



Noise – Wisdom : The Simplest Note You Need

Noise – Wisdom Continuum

Data (alone) = Noise

Data + Context = Information

Experimentation + Error = Experience

Information + Experience = Knowledge

Knowledge + Humility = Wisdom

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Elite Mental Performance – The Sport Psych Podcast

The Sport Psych Show Podcast

Wonderful interview with Dan Abrahams on ‘The Sport Psych Show’

It was particularly interesting because of Dan’s own experience in professional sport and insightful questions …

There was a lot covered – from managing stress and pressure to communicate, empathy and resilience and considering the person – not the ‘player’ or ’employee’

Image result for The Sport Psych Show

If you’ve not listened to Dan before I strongly suggest you listen to his podcast always insightful and passionate.

Enjoy !


Exploring the ‘High Achiever’ Mindset on the ‘Humbled’ Podcast

Humbled Podcast

The role of sport in preparing people for the challenges of life.

When Erin asked me to come on this podcast I was honored – the conversations and questions she and Kristn have been exploring are incredibly important for athletes and coaches – especially in relation to transitioning athletes and military as well as balancing both performance, work and life.

In this we explore models for navigating the world which can help us understand how we as humans and athletes can evolve, adapt, and come out better on the backside of performance.

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Fergus Connolly is a performance expert who has worked with professional sports teams around the world. Fergus sat down with Erin and Kristin and talked about how he believes that the role of sport is preparing people for the challenges of life. He has made a career out of working with all different types of athletes, special operators and personnel. Fergus has published two books on performance and team dynamics and has a really good insight into not only how athletes can train and perform better, but simultaneously prepare themselves for life after. Fergus gets into the dangers of specializing in one specific area and how that may be our greatest threat to adaptability. Fergus is amazing at is creating models for navigating the world which can help us understand how we as humans and athletes can evolve, adapt, and come out better on the backside of performance.


For more information about Humbled, check out the Humbled website at
Follow Fergus on Twitter @fergus_connolly and Instagram @fergus.connolly.
Catch up with Kristin @kharaldsdottir and Erin @erincafaro on the Instagrams.
Thank you as always to our incredible podcast editor, Corey Schreppel! @coreyschreppel

Enjoy !

A Personal Insight on the ‘Leave Your Mark’ Podcast

Leave Your Mark Podcast

Here’s link to a Podcast I did recently with Scott Livingston

It’s probably one of the more in-depth and personal interviews I’ve ever done and Scott has a unique style.

Enjoy – I love Scott’s style – and he has many other great interviews to listen also!


Lessons from a Legend – Ruud Van Nistelrooy

Learning from Van Nistelrooy

Six Lessons from a Legend

I was in Amsterdam last month presenting a Masterclass to soccer and cycling teams when a hand when up from the back of the room.

“Do you think it’s best to be a coach who is very methodical or a skilled people person?”

I knew my answer, however when I noticed the question was from Ruud van Nistelrooy, the fifth-highest goalscorer in Champions League history I paused for a second.

“Always a skilled people person first” I replied.

I followed up asking Ruud what he believed.

Ruud’s reply was very enlightening

“I agree completely, that’s why I like your book Game Changer so much, because you present both methodology and art of coaching. There are too many coaches now who have very complicated schemes, but they cannot communicate or get people to play for them.’

But what Ruud said next was most important for coaches and leaders to hear.

“I’ve played for both Alex Ferguson and Bobby Robson and they were the best coaches at getting the most from me”.


In sport and business there has been a trend very recently to a more data-driven decision-making process at the expense of people skills. It’s a good reminder that people respond to people. Hearing it first-hand from one of soccer’s greatest players is all the reinforcement you should need.

Old Fashioned Values

During a break I later asked Ruud about a story I had heard from some of the United coaches many years ago and wanted to know if it was true.

Alex Ferguson wanted to sign Van Nistelrooy in 2000 from PSV Eindhoven. Van Nistelrooy had just scored a remarkable 29 goals in 23 games during the 1999-2000 season. However, Ruud failed the medical and the transfer, then estimated at $25 million collapsed.

Shortly after returning home to PSV tragedy struck, and Van Nistelrooy tore the ACL in his right knee. Not only had the deal collapsed, but now he was facing surgery and a career threatening injury.

But the story didn’t end there.

As Ruud Van Nistelrooy came to terms with the injury and faced the reality of a long rehabilitation, his phone rang. Alex Ferguson had heard the news, and was calling him to support him, encourage him. But Ferguson went further. He assured him that if he got back to full fitness, United would come for him again.

Van Nistelrooy worked harder than ever and the following summer Alex Ferguson kept his word. Manchester United signed him for even more than they initially had offered.

Van Nistelrooy repaid the loyalty, belief and faith Ferguson and Manchester United had shown in him and scored 150 goals in 219 games for the United.

Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but I was still amazed why Alex would give his word and take such a gamble. Van Nistelrooy explained to me that it wasn’t a gamble – not for Ferguson.

Ruud explained Alex Ferguson met him in person, came to his apartment, saw how he lived. Noticed it was tidy, that he was dedicated, a professional and was composed. Ferguson was investing in the person Ruud Van Nistelrooy, not just the player.

Alex Ferguson, underestimate him as a coach, but his ability to understand people can never be questioned.


What lessons can you take from this?

  1. – Methodology is important – but develop people skills if you want people to excel
  2. – Values matter. Keeping your word still matters in sport and business
  3. – As a player – never give up. Injuries and set backs are temporary.
  4. – If you’re a player – remember good coaches see everything!  
  5. – Encouraging others when they stumble will reward you – perhaps more than you realize. 
  6. – Never bet on the capability alone. Bet on the person. Character.


As I left that evening Ruud stopped me one last time.

“Fergus, you know the story you told earlier this evening about losing to Manchester United 3-1 when you were starting out on your career at Bolton Wanderers?”

“Yes”, I replied.

“I scored in that game.


Ruud Van Nistelrooy smiled, winked and walked away.


’59 Lessons – Working with the world’s Greatest Coaches, Athletes, & Special Forces’ 

Insights into what makes winners truly great.

Get it now – HERE!


Go to the Source – Louie Simmons & Charlie Francis

Disciples Differ

Leaders Agree

The following is an extract from  

’59 Lessons – Working with the world’s Greatest Coaches, Athletes, & Special Forces’ 

Insights into what makes winners truly great.

Get it now – HERE!

The 55th Lesson

Go to the source, not the disciples.


Exclusive extract from “59 Lessons: Working with the World’s Greatest Coaches, Athletes, & Special Forces’ by Fergus Connolly, now available on Amazon


In a nondescript industrial park lies an unremarkable warehouse outside Columbus, Ohio. There is no sign, no name, nothing to signal what lies behind it. Morning after morning for decades, the strongest men in the world have walked through the doors to train at an elite, invitation-only facility. In a small torture chamber, they lift bars and weights that look nothing like the polished colored plates or machines you find in modern college or professional NFL team weight rooms. Under a true pioneer in the world of strength, they train to move rusted battered weights, setting world records by a half inch. 25lbs is always 25lbs – polishing it doesn’t make it lighter.


Louie Simmons owns and runs this gym. He has trained and prepared more record holders in powerlifting than anyone in the world. Louie developed his Westside Barbell method over many years of study, theory, and practice. An accomplished athlete in his own right, he’s one of only five lifters to record elite totals in five different weight classes.

He has written many books and openly shares his concepts, which many have copied. But there is only one Louie and only one Westside. Having studied the Westside Method for years and trained many athletes in the methodology, I thought I knew a lot about it. But when Louie invited me to come visit I also believed that many of his approaches would be in direct conflict with what I had learned from other coaches in different sports because powerlifting is so different than team settings. But sitting across from Louie in his office, discussing many of his principles with him, Tom Barry, and John Quint, I found more similarities than differences.


This is not the first time I’ve had such a realization, but it underlined again for me the need to go directly to the source, to tap leaders and ignore advocates or second- hand disciples. When you discuss techniques with Louie, you find that he is not only a gold mine of information and experience, but also a sophisticated thinker. Delve deeper into Louie’s mind and principles and you find out how solid his logic and understanding really are.



Sitting with Louie was somewhat of a déjà vu experience. For years before I went to stay with Charlie Francis in Canada, I had read and re-read his coaching book Training for Speed and his fascinating autobiography Speed Trap many times. I’d also spent hours poring over his website forum, where people would debate aspects of his Vertical Integration system that encourages coaches to train each one of their athletes’ attributes to some degree at all times. As a result of all this reading and research, I had a pretty firm idea about what Charlie’s methods were. These informed the 20 questions I’d written down to ask him.

A few weeks later on the flight home, I pulled out the piece of paper to see if I had missed anything. Going slowly down the list of questions, I realized I hadn’t gotten an answer to a single one. It slowly dawned on me that the reason was simple: I wasn’t even asking the right questions.


This taught me a valuable lesson about the dangers of misinterpreting the written word or worse still, second- hand information. Yes, you can glean insights from what experts write or say in an interview, but you won’t get the full story unless you actually spend time with them and leave your preconceptions at the door.


Go to the source!


Get ’59 Lessons’ now – on limited release – HERE!

Recommended Reading on Psychology

Three Books on Psychology

One of the questions I get asked most frequently is about recommend reading …


Recommended Reading on Psychology

If you’re interested in understanding psychology better here are three recommendations

As I’ve said many times, I get asked about the best books I’ve read quite often. Again, in Europe I was asked, and the topic was psychology this time.

I always tell coaches, especially young coaches, to start with Brett Bartholomew’s book ‘Conscious Coaching: The Art and Science of Building Buy-In’as it gives a great insight into the application of psychology to coaching in the practical setting.

It’s probably one of the few that is both practical and by a practitioner.

The second book I really enjoy is by Dr. Steve Peters, ‘The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Program to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence, and Happiness’. Steve has worked with Bradley Wiggins, Winner of Tour de France 2012, Chris Hoy, six-time Olympic champion and many, many more.

Tame your Chimp!

Finally, I love this one – “The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion”by Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson. Simon Marshall is a sport psychologist who trains professional athletes and Lesley Paterson is a three-time world champion triathlete and coach and – as you can guess from the title – they deliver psychology in a very, lets say, ‘common sense’ manner for you to digest.

You’ll find this will speak to you!



Learning from a different domain has the effect of avoiding any preconceived bias you might have


Send me an email to info@fergusconnolly.comwith your top three.