Pre-season team development with the Hurricanes Rugby Team

 – By Jeremy Dean, R&E Founder & Master Game Maker

It was such an honour taking this group of elite athletes through The Emotional Culture Deck. As a former professional athlete, I know how difficult it is to open up and talk about emotions and feelings in a team environment. But yesterday we broke the mould and had 40 male professional athletes explore what they want to feel and not feel this upcoming season.

The majority of conversations in teams, whether corporate or sports revolve around cognitive culture and expected behaviours. But that's only half the conversation. Exploring desired and undesired emotions creates connection, empathy and understanding.

Sport (and life) is, by nature, an emotional game. Elite sports and high performance are all about 'feeling' – both physical feelings, like how the ball or bat feels in your hands. But also inner feelings. Our emotions and feelings govern how we perform on and off the field. Yet the conversation is usually avoided. It's always so humbling and inspiring to see the vulnerability that emerges when teams play with The Emotional Culture Deck.

Here's what The Hurricanes Professional Development Manager, Arden Perrot, said after the workshops:

"The players' engagement really surprised me. The 'mode of learning' rugby players are very kinesthetic, active learners they enjoy this type of delivery - however, I also know there is growth in what challenges us. The players were open, vulnerable and willing and wanting more. 
Overall it was a really positive experience and the content and cards helped our players express themselves. All the players got a lot out of the session, and it was great to hear our players recommended we do it with management next time round.

Next, we will gather in all the data, explore what our players identified as how they want to feel and how they don't want to feel, talk to wellness team and GM about how can we use this data. How we follow up these conversations with the Player Check-In Handbooks will drive the ongoing conversations about emotions and development throughout the season."

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