Pro Tips

Who is Your Inner Coach?

You have your regular coach, then there’s the other one.

The inside one.

We all have this little guy (or gal) in our heads who is running the show. Giving out directions, setting up scenes.

Everyone knows that some coaches and bosses bring out the best in us, some the worst. Their job is to monitor, evaluate, and direct our activities. What type is your internal coach?

The Tyrant

This kind of manager drives you to excel, but in a negative and sometimes cruel way. If you sprained your ankle last week and your balance was a little off today on your horse, he doesn’t care! He expects more from you, and without whining. Don’t look for empathy here…One of the problems with this type is you don’t end up with much room for learning. The tyrant intends more to punish after you make a mistake, not help you figure out what you need to do differently the next time.

The Avoider

This one doesn’t like to get in trouble or be challenged by anyone, so he also doesn’t challenge you. Whatever you do is ok. You don’t need to set goals or evaluate yourself. Don’t get frustrated or upset, those are uncomfortable emotions.

He says: “go ahead, avoid that entering that class, you’ll feel better.”

You may feel somewhat comfortable with this type of boss, especially when it gets you out of doing something your afraid of, but there is such a thing as being too comfortable. We all need to reach, to be challenged, and, yes, to learn from not-so-great experiences and not-so-pleasant emotions from time to time. We also need limits, just like raising a child, it’s healthy.

The Scare Monger

This coach loves to point out all the things it thinks you can’t handle. “Did you see who the judge was? Never liked your horse.” “Check out that oxer out of that tight corner, think you’ll be able to make it?” “You’re first in the order of go, what a disaster.”

By the time this one is finished with you, you’re just a little freaked out. Just when you should be concentrating on your riding, it takes you away and shows you all that could go wrong. But, of course, this is not where your focus needs to be, it needs to be on your connection to your horse.  The scare monger ends up wasting a lot of your valuable energy.

Here’s you you make adjustments

Once you have really gotten to know this internal trainer, you may or may not want to continue retaining their services. You may want to fire them! If you do, who are you going to look for as a replacement?

Whatever changes you may be considering, take a look at your individual needs first. Do you need more balance in terms of positive versus negative feedback? Do you need more compassion and patience for your feelings of fear? Maybe you require more messages about your ongoing progress.

It is important to know that you can custom design your inner coach to reflect your personal needs.

april clayAbout the Author

April Clay is a rider and sports psychologist in Calgary, Alberta. Want to learn more about show preparation and mental toughness? Check out the Resilient Rider Online Course and the Confidence Factor at