Elite Performance Mind Coach Denis Coen gives us insight and tips into simple practical mental skills and effective coping strategies to allow you to unleash your true potential in sport. This time we look at building trust in a team environment.

Building a championship winning panel can be a very challenging, daunting and complicated task. Getting a team, whether in business or sport, to come together to achieve a vision is never going to be easy. Why? Because athletes come from different backgrounds with different values and beliefs. They all think and behave differently also and therefore, building a successful panel is a process. You can’t expect a group of individuals to come together and become a fantastic team without looking at some of the barriers that may hinder the success of a club or organisation.


Recognising the dysfunctions within a team, evaluating and discussing them can bring about unity and consistency within the panel. The implications of not been able to discus and see dysfunctions within your team will be the result of underlying tension among the athletes. If such tensions exist the performance of the team will be affected.

Like fitness testing, the attitudes and behaviours of athletes need to be measured and discussed regularly. Just because a player gives a verbal commitment at the beginning of the year does not mean his commitment will remain reliable. Likewise, a player that may seem like a team player may have his own individual agenda for the season.

Having an individual agenda that does not correspond with the team goals and vision will also have an effect on team morale and performance. And you know that low team morale is a major confidence killer to any team. Having worked with various teams over the years I have distinguished many different dysfunctions of a championship winning team. One of those dysfunctions is the lack of trust.


Trust is the primary foundation for building a championship winning panel. It is a critical part of team building and it really and truly is at the heart of teamwork. Failure to understand or build trust is the result of team players and team members not been able to open up to one another.

Having worked with various teams in different sports over the years I have found that players have difficulty opening up to each other. Understanding a teammate’s emotions and motivations will result in team unity. Therefore, it’s important to understand how teammates feel and think. Sport is an emotional game. We may not always admit this but it is true. To build trust one must learn to value the emotions of their teammates.


Teams that win championships do not hold back. They are completely open with one another and aren’t afraid to admit to their mistakes and weaknesses. They will seek help for their weaknesses from teammates and work on them and they will work hard to learn from their mistakes. Weaknesses may not always be physical or tactical within a team or panel. A player’s weakness maybe a behavioural or mental one that has a negative impact on the panel. It is important to be open and honest about this also. By challenging and rectifying a behavioural or mental weakness will more than likely increase the performance and success of a team.

Having trust means having confidence in your teammate and having confidence in the direction and vision of the team. When trust is at the core of a championship team, team members are more likely to commit to the process of a common goal. No matter how difficult the process, team players will stay committed to it during the ups and downs. When trust is evident there is an absence of suspicion and fear among the players. The players will depend on each other and believe that each and every one in the panel is capable of performing to get a job done.

Bring out your best in pre-season with our great Home Gym equipment sale.


With over a century of experience, Brooks are one of the go to brands when it comes to running knowledge and quality.

They are a brand who know running and the mechanics to make you run better, and in greater comfort. This year they have launched the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16, a superior shoe that could transform the way you run.

The Adrenaline, in both men’s and women‘s, offers a variety of different technological advances including BioMoGo (Bio-Degradable Midsole) DNA cushioning that dynamically adapts to every step and stride. The Progressive Diagonal Rollbar (PDRB) guides the body back into its natural motion pattern while the full-length Segmented Crash Pad (which we discuss more below) accommodates any foot landing and delivers smooth heel-to-toe transitions – leading to less stress on your foot as the updated V-Groove folds deeper inward to absorb and disperse impact outward. Add in a conformable saddle with adjustable eyelets pulls from the heel to wrap the midfoot in a secure fit. All in all, sounds like a secure and comfortable fit!

The Segmented Crash Pad customizes your foot’s lay-down to provide amazing cushion and smooth heel-to-toe transition throughout the run.


A key component of maximizing your run is to provide the smoothest possible heel-to-toe transition. The Segmented Crash Pad is one technology we use to achieve this goal.

Shaped like a caterpillar, the Segmented Crash Pad is a midsole made up of independent, yet fully integrated shock absorbers. As your foot strikes the ground, the segments work together to customize your individual lay down to provide the right amount of cushion and seamless heel-to-toe transition for you – making the most of all that effort you put into each stride.


Brooks DNA is an innovative and uniquely adaptive cushioning system. By adapting to your specific weight, pace, gait and running surface, DNA offers customized cushioning and adds a spring to your step.

Traditional cushioning takes a one-size-fits-all approach, but we know that each runner is different. Brooks DNA was developed to continuously tailor the level of cushioning to your specific needs – even as they change during the run.


Check out the Brooks revolution for your feet in selected stores or online today


In our latest instalment of “Women In Sport”, we talk to Portlaoise Panthers point guard and under-age coach, Maeve O’Sullivan.

There has been much made recently of the amount of time and effort that inter-county GAA players put into their sport and the question of whether it is worth it or not. It’s a valid question and worth exploring, but if you step back for a minute and look at it objectively, is there really that much to complain about? What of the players who put in a huge effort in other sports, sports that don’t garner the same TV minutes, column inches, or online focus? Outside of the elite in professional rugby, the GAA, and to a lesser extent the top flight of the Airtricity League, every week thousands and thousands of men and women spend their evenings and weekends doing their best to become their best, all away from the glare of the spotlight. Maeve O’Sullivan, the skilful and tenacious point-guard for the history making Portlaoise Panthers – currently in their first season in the Women’s Premier League in basketball – is one such individual. She argues that if you don’t love what you’re doing, don’t do it. She loves her sport and despite everything, that is the reason she plays – not for the crowds, not for the glamour, not for the trophies. For the love of the game.

“I read an article recently where the writer said he fears for GAA this year, and football in particular. He was saying that the players aren’t committing to county teams as they may have in the past and the players that are committing are training, and training, and training, and training and not winning – he’s saying, what is the point? And fair enough, I know I have training tonight and I’m looking at the clock and thinking “I’d love to get out of it, because, what’s the point…” but, then, I look at sport as my life. You do it because you love it and when things get rough, as it is for us right now [Portlaoise are second bottom of the league table], you have to pull together and learn from the positives and you have to improve. If you take his word for it in the article, you’d wonder if people took that attitude to everything in live what sort of world we’d be in? People play sport, even when they are losing, because it offers them so much more, it offers them friendship, it offers a release. When I go on the court, I’m a completely different person and I love that aspect. So, yes, losing sucks and it’s tough but you just have to put it in to get something out and like I said, I don’t have the mentality of a quitter. I’m going to take everything I can from this year and even at 28 years old, I feel i am getting better from game to game and I think my team-mates are too. That’s the positives we are going to take from it because the successes will come when you have that positive mentality.”

Maeve first fell in love with the game as a youngster after watching her talented sister Catherine take up the sport, all under the watchful eye of a Laois legend back in the mid 90’s.

“I started when I was in primary school,” she explains. “I have been playing since i was six or seven, Catherine my sister started when she started secondary school. It was never a game that my family were involved in before that. Once Catherine started secondary school she fell under the guidance of Pat Critchley and she fell in love with the game. Catherine was always my idol, I wanted to do whatever she did so i followed her around. The basketball courts in the old Convent school in Portlaoise used to be the haunt for the summer so literally you went down there every day and it was five on five games, two games going at the same time all day long, it was that popular – and all thanks to Pat too.”

“As I was the annoying little sister who used to tag along with her she tried to teach me to shoot, how to dribble, or I’d sit there and watch the games going on as well. Thankfully then Pat started to extend his training to the primary school because there was no club set-up at the time. He was struggling at school as players were coming in with no technical ability or real knowledge of basketball so he worked back and started with the fifth and sixth class. Although I was in third class he took me in with the rest of them. That’s where my formal training started.”

Bright, articulate and with plenty of opinions on a variety of sports, O’Sullivan is just one of a vast array of talented and intelligent females plying their trade at the top level of basketball right now in Ireland. And even though the sport is not enjoying the recognition it may have had in this country in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, there is superb work going on at all levels to build a solid base for the game for the future. O’Sullivan herself is part of that, and alongside her playing career, she is currently coaching under-age teams in Portlaoise and ArdScoil Rath Iomgháin, Rathangan where she teaches. She is determined to give back as much as she has gained from basketball, even if it can be a big ask at times.

“It’s tough to combine the two – right now I’m on the way home after coaching in school, I’m going home to grab a bite to eat and going training then from 7-9pm myself tonight. It’ll be the same on Thursday, coaching the guys after school then on to my own training and then Friday you have the under 18’s and thrown in there is an under 18 game I can’t make because I have my own commitments with basketball.

It’s hard and you’re constantly on the go, but I feel I owe to my sport. I have got so much from my sport and I’m not getting any younger but when you know that in a few years you’re going to have to step back from it… I’d hate to step back from it completely and not have anything to do with it. Now I’m just setting up the future for coaching I suppose. On the court I’d like to think of myself as a player who can read the game, someone that sees things going with defences, I suppose that is the job of a point guard as well to recognise these things – I may not be a superstar but I’d like to think I do see things on court and can adapt to them and I guess than transfers to the coaching. I’m learning. It’s definitely different. I think I have learned from the coaches I’ve been coached by before – nice coaches, angry coaches, polite coaches – and I know what type of coach I want to be from those experiences.”

“I’m still learning. I hope that the kids enjoy it, and that’s what I want – I want them to enjoy basketball, to realise that yes it is about winning and we all love to win, but it’s about the experiences as well . That’s what I love, I love being at the top of the bus when the music is blaring and the kids might be doing my head in but they’re having fun and getting along. That’s what my school days were about, those are the days I remember, and that’s what I want for them as well. I think I’m in a privileged position where I get to facilitate that. I love winning myself but as a player it’s completely different to being a coach. Actually it was quiet emotional the first time seeing the kids win their first regional final and like I said I feel in a privileged position to facilitate that.”

It’s not just with Rathangan – now one of the big schools in Irish secondary schools basketball – that Maeve is creating waves. Portlaoise Panthers have risen like a phoenix in recent years, and unusually, the club are following a top down method of building success which is working excellently so far.

“We [Panthers senior women’s team] started Midlands League, won the Midlands League, natural progression was to the National League, won the National League, now SuperLeague but there was no point going to the SuperLeague if there is nothing coming up behind you, so that was the emphasis we had to put on things – did we want to have a club or did we want to just have a team? Again that was the natural progression and thankfully there are kids coming up now who have chances that we didn’t have.”

“They’ve started a league in the Midlands, we have teams in the kindergarten where you bring seven, eight, nine, ten year olds, then you have under twelve, under fourteen, sixteens and eighteens. Myself and Catherine took on a good under eighteen team, we were entered  in the Midlands League and Kilkenny League and won both, and then with the likes of Claire Melia, Maeve Phelan and Erone Fitzpatrick coming through, three really talented players, with a group of really strong and talented girls coming up, we decided we would enter the National Cup this year. We reached the semi-final : it was the first time in the clubs history we entered an under-age girls team in a national competition so to make the semi-final [was a great achievement]. Unfortunately we lost out to a fantastic Brunell team on the day, but it was such a great achievement for the club that we are hugely proud of that. It’s going from strength to strength.”

“The levels are improving, the numbers are improving, definitely. We have unprecedented numbers of people coming to take up basketball and more importantly it becoming their first sport – we are a minority sport, we are battling against the football and hurling, so it’s great to see kids come down and fall in love with it and give it their full commitment. Numbers are increasing year on year and that’s not just in our club; that is right across the Midlands so you have a really solid league. What we need to do now is up the standard and the levels – our under 18 team have won the Top Four the last two years in a row, and our hot favourites to win it again this year but still we are not winning national competitions. We have the numbers and we have the team but it’s up to us and all the clubs in the Midlands to improve the standards – the Cork and Dublin teams are the ones to beat and they have huge amounts of teams in each county, but we are looking at a whole region and we are looking at getting coaches onto coaching courses and improving them and them improving the players. I think it’s great now that we have a Premier League team and that Basketball Ireland still has a structured –link up rule whereby girls who are under 18 girls in the area can look at us and realise they can play Superleague (sic) but still keep playing with my own team too which is great. Now there is more incentive for players to improve and to keep playing basketball.”

Before she commits herself to full time coaching, the former DCU ace still has unfinished business in her own playing career and after a stellar couple of seasons in the green and white of the Panthers, Maeve, along with her team-mates is looking to establish them as a real force in senior basketball.

“Look, it’s tough. Last year we went unbeaten, and for the last two years the word ‘lost’ wasn’t in our vocabulary, we had unprecedented success and obviously you enjoy every minute of a season where you don’t lose and any sportsperson will tell you that. This year has been tough and I’ve said it before, we think we were realistic  going into this season – we’ve had two players miss out as they’ve had pregnancies, it’s I suppose a disadvantage of being  a woman in sport, but the team was in transition. Our club is still at a very young stage where we didn’t have an under 20’s team that you could take from, the girls are still at the stage where they are coming up to under 18 so maybe it was two or three years too early, we don’t have the privilege of the draw from colleges like Dublin, Cork or Galway teams do either so that’s a struggle for us too. To be honest though we probably thought it was going to go a lot worse for us than it has already so that’s really, really positive and in a season where you’re losing the majority of those games you have to look for those positives or you will go demented and you will start to hate the sport you love. We’re taking the positives though and we are running teams close and it’s a sickener when you lose and no one likes losing but you have to keep going – what else can you do but quit and I don’t have the mentality to do that, and I’m on a team of girls that don’t have the mentality to quit either.”

#CommitToFit in 2016 with Elverys Intersport great training range for women.


We’re not talking Peter Kay in his famous John Smith advert here, but sometimes you just need to ” ‘ave it “. Well step forward the Puma evoPOWER 1.3  , the latest edition of the power silo that gives you maximum power based around the principles of barefoot kicking. A new outsole is part of the changes to create a more flexible, more streamline version of the boot.

Puma have increased the amount of AccuFoam for increased accuracy in the upper and to provide a smoother kicking surface, and the Adap-Lite upper allows the foot to bend akin to how your foot naturally does. The new outsole focuses on an improved configuration of the bladed and conical studs to allow for more manoeuvrability and extra stability for the standing leg when kicking – meaning you can get all your weight behind each and every shot.

These boots are ideal for those with a wider foot – it can always be tricky to find the boot to fit your feet but if you’re searching for a wider or higher boot, this is the one for you. Overall, it’s a winner from Puma, and something to seriously consider when you’re looking for the edge in your game, in defence, or in attack.

The new Puma evoPOWER and evoSPEED boots, available now at Elverys Intersport!


Swimming. It’s the full body workout that blasts calories while virtually eliminating joint impact. Ramp up your efficiency in the pool with our top tips for getting the most out of your swim time.

The secret to keeping your workout fresh and exciting is to mix up your training with different swim strokes, training aids, interval training and water weights.

Here’s how…

Swap laps for drills

Want maximum efficiency? Forget straight laps and get your drill head on. Technique drills, speed drills – there’s a drill for everyone.If you plan ahead,with the right swimming drill, you could burn around 300 calories in as little as 25 minutes.

Need inspiration? Try this fat-burning drill and increase/decrease the rest time according to your fitness level:

  • Swim four lengths of freestyle with just 15 seconds rest after each length.
  • Next, move on to backstroke (or alternate backstroke with freestyle for 8 lengths), aiming to complete the entire 8 lengths in around 4 minutes.
  • To add some variety to your swim, perform the next four lengths with a kickboard, taking a minute per length.
  • After using the kickboard, swim freestyle with a pull-buoy for two minutes.
  • Next, alternate freestyle and backstroke for eight lengths once again, completing this in 4 minutes.
  • Finally, end on a high with two lengths of your favourite stroke, completed in one minute.

Kit bag essentials: Speedo Futura Biofuse Goggle (comfy and won’t steam up), Speedo Pace Swim Cap, Speedo Pinnacle Kickback suit, Speedo Pullbuoy.

Turbo-charge your water workout with resistance training

Incorporating resistance training into your swim can help improve strength and power. Better yet, it helps build lean muscle, increasing your resting metabolic rate so that your body burns more calories, even when you have your feet up (bonus!). One way to weave resistance training into your drills is to invest in a pair of hand paddles. The extra resistance created by having paddles strapped to your hands intensifies the demands on your upper body, providing a challenging and targeted swim session.  Advanced swimmer? Try upping the difficulty further by using a pullbuoy alongside your hand paddles. Tip: step up progressively to avoid loading the shoulders prematurely.

Resistance training for aqua fitness workouts

Want to add resistance training into your aqua fitness workout? Try using hand-held water weights as part of your training –simply hold them under the water (to create resistance) while performing exercises such as walking lunges, squats and high knees (jogging on the spot).

Alternatively, use them to improve upper body strength by targeting the triceps, biceps and shoulders during your aqua workout. Tip: if you’re new to fitness training, bypass the weights and start with body weight exercises such as high knees, squats and walking lunges.

Kit bag essentials: Speedo Tech Paddle, Speedo Pullbuoy.

Join the HIIT squad

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a busy swimmer’s best friend, and allows you to get maximum bang for your swimming buck. Between 20 and 30-minutes of high intensity exercise, where you’re working for short bursts at close to maximum effort, has been scientifically proven to be an efficient way to burn fat and increase fitness. Best of all, unlike low-intensity steady state exercise (LISS), your body continues to burn fat long after you’ve finished exercising – for up to 24 hours afterwards.

The key is to ramp up your heart rate with intense intervals of effort. Try adding one of the following to your training plan:

  • Swim as fast as you can for 30 seconds, then rest for between 15 and 30 seconds before sprinting again. Repeat as many times as you can manage – aim for double figures
  • Non-swimming option Tread water (or run on the spot in the pool with your knees high), working as hard as possible for up to 30 seconds. Rest 10-15 seconds (you may need a longer rest, initially) and repeat. Advanced fitness levels may increase their exercise time to between 30 and 60 seconds, or raise arms above the head while treading water

Kit bag essentials: Speedo Water Bottle on poolside. Speedo Nose Clip for swim sprints.

Why swim?

Still need convincing to help you get in the pool? Just 30 minutes of steady swimming can burn between 200 – 350 calories, plus it only takes half an hour of swimming, once a week, to significantly improve your energy levels.

Great for toning up, swimming doesn’t work just one muscle group, but all of them. Better yet, 30 minutes of exercise in the water is the equivalent of approximately an hour’s land-based exercise. And you want to lose weight? Swimming burns around 3 calories a mile per pound of bodyweight – meaning that a woman weighing 150 pounds can burn approximately 450 calories for every mile swum. Nice!

Get started with our kitbag essentials:

Swim cap – try Speedo Moulded Silicone Cap

Goggles – try Speedo Merit Goggle

Swimming costume –try Speedo Monogram Muscleback

Water bottle – try Speedo Water Bottle

Nose clip – try Speedo Nose Clip

Check out our #NewYearNewSwim range now at Elverys Intersport, online and in store!



The gym. It can be a tough place to go – it can be tough to motivate yourself to head along, it can be tough to find space for yourself, it can be intimidating in a number of ways. So if the gym doesn’t appeal to you and you think you need something different, what can you do?

Well, the good news is that you don’t even need to leave the house to reach your fitness goals. The ‘Home Gym’ is the answer to your prayers and is the perfect accompaniment to a busy lifestyle. Here we look at some of the reasons why working out at home is the perfect way to move your fitness to the next level.

You dictate what you need in your gym

Sometimes you can walk into a gym knowing exactly what you want to do and what machines you need – and sometimes those machines aren’t available for the hour or so you intend to spend there. It’s frustrating and it’s why having your own personal spinning class or treadmill ensures that you never have to wait for the equipment to be free. In many gyms, the equipment choices were made based on cost rather than effectiveness. At home, people have the option of using high-quality equipment that works for them.


Your home gym – where you are in charge!

We know more and more of how to train right, and what is good for us and how to achieve the right results. Having the correct form is hugely important when doing any exercises, especially weights, and having the time and space in your own home allows you time to get the correct posture and form to make sure that your exercises count every time. You don’t need to worry about anyone watching, are waiting for you to finish with the weights etc. It’s your gym, you’re the one in charge!

Home offers a place that fits your program

Do you go to the gym and end up spending as long finding a parking space, getting room in the changing room, finding equipment, talking to a friend or acquaintance, and at the end of your hour realising you’ve barely managed to get any real work done? Working out at home cuts out all of these issues and means that your workout is a straight up workout. You dictate the pace and intensity and distractions are cut to the bare minimum! At home, no one will disturb you while you are exercising. You’ll be able to remain focused and have a faster, more productive workout.


Tailor your workout

If you have a specific gym routine you can find it interrupted time and again by other patrons. With a home gym, as pointed out before, you won’t have these issues. You can plan a circuit for yourself – take your cardio on the treadmill, use a chair for your dips, press ups require no equipment, a medicine ball brings another host of possible exercises… all of a sudden with the minimum of fuss you have a huge range of circuits and exercises that you can put yourself through. It might be in your own house but it need not be boring.

Check out the massive reductions on the brilliant Elverys Intersport Home Gym sale now!