Vicki Fennell talks about the importance of coaching in life away from sport

19 May Vicki Fennell talks about the importance of coaching in life away from sport

Vicki Fennell is a Switch the Play Associate and performance coach from Ebb and Flow. In this Q&A, Vicki explains why athletes can benefit from having a coach in all areas of their career, not just sporting performance.

Vicki explains: “In my experience, athletes say that starting to think about or plan for their ‘next step’ wasn’t something that they did whilst still competing.  While they didn’t exactly say ‘It’ll never happen to me’, their way of thinking about it was similar to arranging a pension, ‘I don’t need one yet, I’ve got plenty of time’.  They tended to live in the moment and focus on the here and now or the next competition, championship, Olympic games, race, game or match.”

How does coaching help?

Just as in a professional sporting career, a personal development coach can become an integral part of an athlete’s support network for planning and moving forward into a life beyond sport. As with any coach they are there to formulate goals, encourage and motivate an individual to stay on the path and achieve them.

The majority of athletes I speak to, who have transitioned out of sport, wish they had started to think about what to do at the end of the career a lot earlier than they had. This is where the intervention of a coach can really help an athlete gain perspective and control of this situation, helping them to stay focussed and balanced.

How does coaching work?

Without giving advice or opinions a coach will ask positive, forward focused questions, empowering individuals to identify and gain clarity on what their goal really is, what is happening for them now in relation to achieving that goal, all the options available to help them move forward and finally determining an action plan of what they will actually do.

Using different coaching frameworks and personal development tools, a coach’s support will help an athlete to understand and develop their own self-awareness, values and priorities.

How does an athlete access this type of coaching?

Through Switch the Play, an athlete can engage with a career coach who can give them the time and space required to develop plans for the future. By using a coach individuals can begin to understand their own unique needs.

Athletes are encouraged to identify goals, the options they have and how to take the first step to achieving them and help in developing a realistic action plan to ultimately smash them. Along with professional mentors and advisors, a coach will be part of a new support structure.  Coaches can also be used to bounce ideas off, sense check thoughts and sharpen one’s focus.

Vicki has extensive experience working with both military personnel and elite athletes. “Although both careers seem very different there are striking similarities and share similar reactions when their careers comes to and end.  As a coach the best part of my job is the lightbulb moment, when my clients face relaxes and light’s up because they know they have just found the answer. “

If you would like to find out more about coaching then visit or email