It is the belief of both Brendan Creed and Liam Sanford that the ‘WHY? Discovery’ project has had a major impact on the understanding and camaraderie of the GB men’s team.
The programme, first introduced to the squad a few years ago by psychologist Katie Warriner, tasks each player to write down the reasons why they play hockey and the key values that they hold closest to them both in sport and in life.
They then are asked to read these aloud to their team-mates and the coaching staff, providing with a detailed insight into each individual player and an overview of what matters most to them.
It’s not an easy task and reflecting on incidents that have happened in the past can be difficult for some, as can then opening up and sharing it all with other people, but the two defenders have recognised how much of a positive impact it’s had on them personally and the whole squad.
Speaking on #InsideTheCircle: The Podcast, Brendan said: “It’s made my relationships with my team-mates, with the psychologists, with the head coach, more secure. The conversations are more open and honest.
“Everybody wants to know each other more. Dinner conversations are more in depth than previously; they’re actually conversations about what we’re doing outside of sport, living situations and things like that.
“It’s made people a lot more open to understanding each other and it’s created such a healthy atmosphere. The more you can show vulnerability, the more people can see the strength in you and the confidence you have in the group. That makes a huge difference in a team sport.”
This was echoed by Liam, who openly admitted on the podcast that he was indifferent to some of the practices introduced by Katie when she joined the men’s programme in 2017.
But over the years he’s seen first-hand how beneficial working with Katie and fellow psychologist Tim Pitt has been and this has allowed him to become happier both inside and outside of hockey.
“The bond you get and the conversations afterwards are so different to the conversations before. Now I’m definitely more in a place where actually I think hockey is hockey and I enjoy playing it but it’s not the be-all-and-end-all of my life,” the 25-year-old said.
“Actually it’s the connections inside the squad and the connections outside the squad with other people and the process of enjoying day-to-day life that will make you happy.
“It’s a famous phrase but if you’re not good enough without a medal, you’re never going to be good enough with one. If you’re not happy without that medal you’re not going to be happy with it.
“You just have to enjoy everything and if you get to the final goal of winning the medal you so wanted it’ll be great but if you don’t reach it you’ll know you’ll have had a great time with great people along the way. That’s quite a nice way to look at it because you’ve won both ways.”
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