How to Develop Fearless Athletes

How to Develop Fearless Athletes

John Fletcher is the Co-counder of The Magic Academy, a Team Coach at Leading Edge and a Coach Developer for England Hockey. Otherwise known as Fletch, he played first team rugby for Tynedale, Northampton, Newcastle and Gosforth, and was awarded England honours with A team selection. 

He then moved into coaching, where his impressive coaching career began with Newcastle Falcons, where he joined the Academy staff before becoming the club’s Director of Rugby and Head Coach, with overall responsibility for teams that included Jonny Wilkinson, Matthew Burke and Toby Flood.

He then went onto work with England Rugby for over 10 years in a developmental role, as the Under 18’s Head Coach, mentoring and bringing on England stars through the Performance Player Pathway, including brothers Mako and Billy Vunipola, Owen Farrell, George Ford and Elliot Daly.

In this episode, John Fletcher who is recognized as an outstanding coach chats to me about helping athlete’s express themselves so that in pressure situations they can play fearlessly.  Fletch’s impressive career began with Newcastle Falcons, in the academy before becoming the club’s Director of Rugby and Head Coach.  As well as working with the England’s best young players for over 10 years as the England Rugby Under 18’s Head Coach.  John brings a great deal of experience and knowledge into our conversation and shares some great pieces of advice for coaches, parents of athletes and athletes themselves.

Key Learning Points:

  • Fear in sport can occur because of a range of factors; including past experiences and their response to those experiences, team-mates, parents, coaching, spectators or an individuals’ personality can influence this type of behaviour.
  • To get over those fears holding you back, knowing why you play your sport can help you.  As can playing to your strengths and building positive relationships with other people.
  • As coaches and parents, verbal and non-verbal cues are so important to help children who are fearful.
  • Acknowledging there will be setbacks and challenging periods when you play sport and supporting athletes through these times is vital.
  • A role of an adult is to help children become independent so that they can make their own decisions, which is vital to perform at a high level in sport.
  • As children are developing look to give everyone, regardless of talent the same opportunities.
  • The future of Sport Psychology in breaking some barriers is also discussed.

Connect with John Fletcher



The Magic Academy

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Relevant Podcast Episodes

Dr Gio Valiante: How to Play Fearless Golf (Ep 017)

Robbie Thompson: How to Feel More Confident (Ep 022)

Useful blogs that are related to this topic

Case Study: Developing A Fearless Approach With A Professional Footballer

Being Perfect Comes at a Cost

Click the button below to join The Sports Psychology Hub a Facebook group that David hosts to help ambitious athletes, serious sport coaches, sporting parents, sports psychologists and mental game coaches to support each other.



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David Charlton

Best Wishes 

David Charlton

Global Sports Psychologist who is located near Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK and willing to travel Internationally.  David also uses online video conferencing software (Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp) on a regular basis and has clients who he has supported in USA, Canada, South America, UAE, Australian and New Zealand.  

Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence and Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub.  With over 10 years experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, quickly. 

T: +44 7734 697769

E: [email protected]

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