The Application of Mental Performance Coaching in Elite Professional Rugby

The Application of Mental Performance Coaching in Elite Professional Rugby

Aaron Walsh

Aaron Walsh, otherwise known as “Walshy” is an experienced Performance Coach. His main areas of focus are developing leadership, culture and mental performance programs for teams. Currently working with Chiefs in Super Rugby as well as consulting to Harlequins, Scottish Rugby, Texas Rangers and Basketball New Zealand.  Aaron has worked in MLB, NRL and with various national teams.  He is also currently coaching multiple corporate leadership teams in creating and maintaining a high performance working environments.  He is sought after and highly regarded presenter that is comfortable in both sporting and corporate environments.

In episode #147 I chat with Aaron Walsh, a performance coach for the Chiefs rugby team in New Zealand as well as a consultant to many more elite teams including the Scottish Rugby team.  We chat about his experiences of supporting elite rugby union players, common challenges that players bring to him, perceptions from players and coaches of working on their mental game.  Performance analysis is a topic we touch on too as is culture in elite professional sport. 

Key Learning Points:

  • We have many amazing athletes who work incredibly hard, I feel it’s a tragedy that they’re not able to actualise that skill and potential because they don’t have the ability to navigate through the emotional and mental side of performance.
  • In my philosophy I treat the mental side as a skill that can be developed.
  • Why hasn’t mental skills been integrated into elite teams is a part of Aaron’s research. The answer is people need educating on the topic.
  • How players respond to mistakes and pressure is an integral part of mental skills training.
  • Psychological safety and well-being need to be talked about cautiously in elite professional sport.
  • Everybody wants to be resilient, but not many know how to build resilience.

Connect with Aaron Walsh



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To Listen to Rugby Orientated Podcast Episodes

Ep029: Lome Faatau – How to Play Professional Rugby with Confidence 

Ep038: Taz Bricknell – Playing Professional Women’s Rugby 

Ep039: John Fletcher – How to Develop Fearless Athletes

Ep104: Seb De Chaves – The Psychological Demands of Elite Professional Rugby

Ep127: Paul Trainor – The Application of Mental Toughness Training in Elite Professional Rugby League

Helpful Rugby Orientated Resources

Blog – Overthinking on the Rugby Pitch

Blog – Are you a Rugby Player who Focuses Too Much on the Opposition

Blog – Helping Young Rugby Players Mentally Prepare Before Matches

Blog – Playing Rugby at Your Best Under Pressure

Blog – 5 Ways to Create a Psychological Safe Sporting Environment

Rugby Psychology | Mental Skills for Rugby Resources



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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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