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UK Coaching Team
Talent and Performance Developing Mindsets

Self-Regulation: ‘The Bedrock of Healthy Psychological Functioning’

In the seventh of a series of eight resources, Performance Psychology Consultant Philippa McGregor explores the concept of self-regulation and strategies for developing it in the athletes you coach

Self-regulation is having an awareness of your strengths and limitations. Because they are guided by goals you have set personally, developing self-regulation enhances self-satisfaction and motivation to continue to improve

Importantly, self-regulation is under an individual’s own control and encompasses processes that are teachable and can be learnt through instruction and modelling by parents, teachers, coaches, and peers (Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 2005).

The three key functions of self-regulation (adapted from Collins, 2011) are:

Firstly, the ability to think about your thinking (metacognition), which can be separated into:

  • Monitoring: How am doing? Do I feel the way I want to feel before performance?  
  • Planning and selecting your response: I feel anxious. I need to go for a walk and get some headspace. 
  • Organising and executing your response: I’ll go for a walk and listen to my Headspace app.  
  • Evaluating consequences: I feel better but need to get into my preparation phase now. 
  • Learning from the experience: I might consider making a walk and some Headspace time part of my performance preparation routine.

Metacognition is often referred to as “thinking about thinking.” It is an important aspect of self-regulation.

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