“Successful interactions with others are underpinned by our recognition of their individual drives and desires. Once we understand someone’s drives and desires it becomes much easier to align on common goals and a pathway to achieve them.”

This is a unique portion of the book where author, Brett Bartholomew categorizes patterns of personality traits and characteristics often fitting a certain profile of athletes or coaches – labeled as archetypes. By identifying different archetypes via common distinguishable traits amongst a group of people it can help leverage various coaching situations – adversity, competitiveness, social connection, etc.

There are a total of 16 archetypes discussed in #ConsciousCoaching; we will discuss the first 8 this week with a follow-up next week on the remainder. In the book, each archetype is described by strengths/weaknesses, how to connect, and a professional coach’s observation. We will break-down each one listing the most significant character traits followed by a couple quotes that capture the essence of the archetype and how best to connect with them as a coach.

The Technician
  • Perfectionist
  • Cerebral
  • Incessant
  • Control

“The Technician is at risk for becoming a champion of training, but not a champion of competition.”

The Technician is a why person, constantly seeking knowledge asking questions for incentive behind their actions. This is a type of thinking that can better serve them in competition, but also likely used as a defensive mechanism when things don’t go as planned.

How to Connect:

“Teach them by acknowledging their interests and demonstrating ways in which they can take a better angle or find a more efficient way to do something.”

The Royal
  • Entitlement
  • Confidence
  • Recognition

“They are ever aware of others’ perception of them and they guard their reputation closely by making examples of their strengths and athleticism highly visible, while scarcely sharing any details of past or current weaknesses.”

The Royal could be compared to the “elite” AAU athletes that have likely demonstrated an advanced skill-set at an earlier age often associated with higher-regard than others on the team. Compliments and comfort massage the ego, but it is the complacency behind the confidence that can hinder overall development.

How to Connect:

“Social proof states that if someone recognizes another individual participating in a behavior that has a perceived reward or positive outcome (praise in this case) they, too, become more likely to adopt the behavior.”

The Soldier
  • Attention-to-Detail
  • Sacrifice
  • Will

“… these true soldiers can be a coach’s dream. Imagine never having to motivate effort, foster attention with a whistle, or wonder if you’re making an impact. While those are critical aspects of coaching, you won’t find yourself needing them much with soldiers. Instead, the main challenge will often be to protect them from themselves.”

Purely speaking on the metaphorical connotation to this archetype, a soldier embraces instruction and execution to the task. Often someone that is capable of being a great leader by example, but may fall short verbally as they are not one to seek attention often.

How to Connect:

“What the soldier needs most is clarity. When they know how a “mission” also aligns with their personal goals they become experts at aligning their mental and physical resources.”

The Specialist
  • Identity
  • Love of the Game
  • Narrow Focus
  • Performance

“The game is transcendent for the Specialist. Regardless of whether they are introverted or extraverted, you can expect an amplified version of themselves to be on full display whenever they are playing their respective sport.”

Specialist was compared to the Technician in some capacity considering the desire to be perfect in direct relation to their sport. Where a specialist can fall short is in comprehensive awareness of all things that create a successful athlete – leadership, teamwork, strength/conditioning, or actual acumen of the actual game.

How to Connect:

“The power of personalization is the primary force at play and will help the athlete see the benefit through their own eyes, thus increasing the likelihood that they will perform the drill with a renewed sense of purpose.”

The Politician
  • Charismatic
  • Convenience
  • Talkative
  • Dynamic

“The Politician is generally a confident type, but will find ways to blend in when it suits them not to be noticed.”

The chameleon of archetypes, but typically the most predictable of behaviors from an athlete. Consider the individual with the brightest shoes during lay-up lines – wanting to stand out with the most eye-catching apparel during the easiest of situations to look good, but during competition can often get frustrated when the competition is not as favorable.

How to Connect:

“Politicians value options and the freedom to do as they please. They aren’t necessarily against doing the work, they simply want to do it their way, under their terms, and on their own time. The simplest and most effective way to deal with this archetype is by making it clear that you know how to play their game.”

The Novice
  • Eager
  • Raw
  • Patience
  • Potential

“The key with the Novice is to remember that patient development is often the most productive kind.”

The Novice is any baby-deer that shows up to tryouts. Individual has size, but not the coordination. Or has a shot that releases like a perfectly poured faucet, but dribbles like it comes from a well – all starts and stops, nothing fluid.

How to Connect:

“To best connect with the Novice, reconnect with the memories of yourself when you were in this stage. Through empathy and recall, you can better tailor your coaching message and meet the Novice where he or she is while also helping them visualize how taking a slow and steady approach will ultimately lead them to the development highway they strive to be on.”

The Leader
  • Influencer
  • Natural
  • Burden
  • Budding Stars

“They are the ones who are willing to sacrifice so much to achieve an end goal. They work relentlessly in order to feel like they did everything they could to contribute to a positive outcome. While these are laudable traits, they put the Leader at risk; for they often carry the burden of others or inappropriately take the blame for a loss.”

We know who the leaders are on the team. We know those that carry themselves differently. It is often the challenge of infusing the confidence and wherewithal in those potential leaders to transcend a locker room to be at their best.

How to Connect:

“When meeting with the Leader, utilize the tactic of gaining power by giving power, in which you let them know that you appreciate what they bring to the table, you support them, and you want them to serve as a galvanizing force for their peers (which they will likely do naturally).”

The Self-Sabotager
  • Gifted
  • Doubt
  • Analytical

“These athletes care a great deal about their performance yet simply cannot shake the doubts or processing errors that occur when the stakes are high and the lights are on.”

Confidence is paramount.

“All in this archetype struggle from the same root problem: paralysis by analysis.”

These athletes have all the desire in the world to be great, but struggle to get out of their own way; whether that is something that has the ability to controlled or needs interference is the challenge from coaches.

How to Connect:

“Repetition serves as a convincing argument for the Self-Sabatoger. From a coaching standpoint, the positive effects of trial by fire approach is amplified only if the Self-Sabatoger is guided along the way.”

The Mouthpiece
  • Distracting
  • Provocative
  • Audience

“Some members of this archetype are masters of elocution in the sense that they often know just what their audience wants to hear, as well as just how to say it so that it provokes maximal peer engagement.”

This personality describes the athletes that struggles to filter substantial contributions to conversation with preference of simply being heard. There is a desire for attention from them yet often shy away from the tangible exertion necessary for development, often compensating with braggadocios behavior or false equivalencies of performance. There is a deeper drive behind the incessant noise; the challenge in coaching is finding that same gear that can runs their mouth and shift it into production.

How to Connect:

“Compromise is essential to lasting connections, and to connect with the mouthpiece you have to win them over by striking a balance between letting them do their thing and reminding them that there’s a time when they have to get “off stage.”

The Wolverine
  • Complex
  • Independent
  • Bottled Emotions
  • Channeled vs Volatile

“Their self-sufficiency is often fueled by their inner angst and seems to have a way of maturing them earlier in their life since they’ve had to face the harsher realities of the world early on.”

This is the kid you see in the gym by themselves that immediately impress upon you for their natural ability or raw talent, but when approached appear guarded, particularly towards commitment. The complexity from the coach’s side is that their is a clear interest in the sport, but conflict when it comes to relinquishing control relative to time, instruction, or association of others – being a part of a team.

How to Connect:

“Thus it is important to continuously remind yourself that forging a relationship with the Wolverine will take time and trust, and will depend upon your ability to relate to this athlete and convince them to see you in a new light as a positive, stable and consistent influence in their life.”

The Free Spirit
  • Play
  • Inspire
  • Aloofness
  • Eccentric

“The reality is that a fierce competitor lives within many Free Spirits; it’s just that their competitive fire is manifested in a different manner. 

Often misconstrued as the hobby athlete – participates when most convenient. The book refers to task-orientation vs. ego-orientation as a purpose of play. Free spirited athletes were associated by the author as task-orientated driven by competency learning to master new skills. From a coaching standpoint we have to build practice plans, activities, or workouts where the tasks create a certain level of satisfaction deriving sustainable commitment.

How to Connect:

“When you allow the Free Spirit to live out loud while at the same time taking ownership of their training process, connection is created and “buy-in” begins.”

The Manipulator
  • Awareness
  • Malleable
  • Angling
  • Selective

“They are experts at masking their motives and motivating others by painting a picture that seems to align with another party’s goals or desired gains, whether they are as innocuous as wanting to help a teammate or as insidious as taking credit for something they had little tire involvement in to improve their position or perception.”

Manipulators exist in any locker room. Fact of the matter is they have the potential of being as skilled and helpful to the team as anyone else. We can’t as coaches identify the athlete as manipulative and disregard how they could contribute, if their behavior isn’t disruptive. The environment we look to create in the locker room can breed decision-making enabling corruptive behavior, or suppressing it; through positive-peer pressure manipulative habits can either be altered or inconsequential to the larger objective at hand.

How to Connect:

“Connecting with the Manipulator requires a soft heart but a firm hand. Remember, your goal is to help someone, not to defeat them.”

The Underdog
  • Overlooked
  • Will
  • Stubbornness
  • Proof

“Underdogs understand reality but will not accept it as others definite for them, and they directly or indirectly teach others to do the same.”

There is an infectiousness of rooting for an underdog, but it is the underlying character traits that appeal to us as coaches. Not often the highest ceiling of an athlete, but a work ethic that galvanize a group to do more. Draw from their strengths.

How to Connect:

“Underdogs, perhaps more so than anyone, need to know they can take risks and are not going to be chastised as soon as they make a minor mistake. They often need opportunities to master and repeat. Courage and confidence are crucial to their success.”

The Crusader
  • Aspirational
  • Purposeful
  • Steadfast

“They are natural nurturers and teachers, but one lesson they themselves must learn is that helping others is most effective when you empower them to solve their own problems rather than making them reliant on you to help them.”

The Crusader is the unicorn archetype checking all the boxes of leadership, skill, foresight, and selflessness. If the rest of our team is filled with the other archetype personalities, as coaches we look  to develop them as much as possible into Crusader traits.

How to Connect:

“Seek to learn more about their purpose and path so that you can find common links between the culture you are trying to create as a coach and the ideals that they believe in as an athlete.”

The Skeptic
  • Analytical
  • Cautious
  • Perceptive
  • Associative Bias

“Skeptics typically have a strong drive to acquire a new skill or capability, but they don’t always have the patience required to put in the work and learn it.”

Skeptics are inherently inquisitive. This is a good thing for coaches on the aspect that they are likely to ask more questions than others with the intention of seeking comprehension. The downfall can come from the contrarian that resists buy-in because it is less appealing than traditional, or what is perceived as customary. Consider the shooter with incorrect footwork – particularly at the youth to high school level. At a less competitive level this individual could be perceived as a quality shooter, but at a much more competitive level that footwork will likely become costly as the speed of the game catches up. To change ingrained habits of someone perceiving to be proficient at something takes time and independent buy-in.

How to Connect:

 “Understanding the origins of the Skeptic’s behavior and controlling your emotions when questioned are great strategies for connecting with the Skeptic.”

The Hypochondriac
  • Sensitive
  • Proactive
  • Scrupulous
  • Overreact

“If managed appropriately, the Hypochondriac can learn what signs and symptoms are truly harbingers toward impending danger, injury, or inadequate preparation, and which are just a normal part of navigating the complex puzzle of the human body and its responses to the journey of the training process.”

The Hypochondriac finds comfort in always having fears of the worst. Having had a player that was extremely talented that struggled with confidence if the slightest thing felt unnatural, this archetype attentive psychological coaching. So much of the mental obstruction is out of the athlete’s hands simply because the complexity of how the body reacts – illness, strains, soreness, or fatigue. Combine those reactions with an adolescent athlete with limited information of why those occur and it can put a palpable fear in them, at times paralyzing natural movements for protective purposes.

How to Connect: 

“When trying to connect with the Hypochondriac, acknowledge, aim and alter.

  • Acknowledge their concerns and allow them to be heard.
  • Aim to learn the true source of their anxiety. Tell them to specify their number one worry.
  • Alter their perception of the limitation. Don’t ignore it, but redirect their thought process by using positive phrasing and imagery. In others words, remind them why they can still achieve success despite their issue.”

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