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Speaking tips for athletes

Sherrylyn A. Toppin

Speaking tips for athletes

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A?group?of Barbadian athletes are now better prepared to deal with issues off the field, ranging from confidence-building to drugs in sports.
About 35 athletes, coaches and parents attended the first ever Stay On Track: Athletes Personal Development Workshop last Saturday afternoon in the main conference room of the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development.
It was an initiative by the Barbados League of Athletics Supporters and Trainers (BLAST), a newly formed charitable organization which aims to help athletes realize their full potential through the provision of development programmes, thereby meeting their socio-economic needs.
Resource personnel from various areas spoke on topics relevant to today’s athletes including Motivation/Confidence-building by Paul Sealy; An Introduction to Public Speaking and Balancing Academics and Athletics by Michael Jules; Sports Nutrition by Dr Mark Alleyne and Drugs In Sports by Neil Murrell.
In the Introduction to Public Speaking segment, Jules, who is head of the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme and a regular athletics commentator for the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, took athletes through a series of exercises to demonstrate how to deal with the media.
He pointed out it was natural to be nervous because everyone was watching and listening to what you said and how you said it, but public speaking was a skill that could be mastered with practice.
“You can train for when a mike [microphone] comes, when you see a camera.
“You can do it at home, stand in front of the mirror, roll a piece of paper – this is your mike and you can practise,” Jules said.
“You have to prepare yourself to speak with confidence.”
A trained coach and former Barbados athlete, Jules identified tips for speaking in public – confidence, knowledge of the sport, maintaining eye contact, smiling, speaking clearly and being fluent.
Five athletes were selected to speak on a topic for 30 to 60 seconds. They were videotaped and then got the opportunity to critique themselves.
BLAST president John Hollingsworth said that while speaking in public couldn’t be mastered in the single session, they would be putting on more workshops, but they expected to see some improvement now the athletes had the basic information.