Just another coach, aligning with other coaches’: Meet Danielle Poulos, HFX Wanderers’ mental performance coach
Excerpts of the following article by Charlie O’Connor-Clarke from March 8, 2022 are courtesy of Canadian Premier League: https://canpl.ca/article/just-another-coach-aligning-with-other-coaches-meet-danielle-poulos-hfx-wanderers-mental-performance-coach.
In the course of a season, high-level athletes spend countless hours working on the physical attributes of their sport: their shooting ability, for instance, or their strength and agility.
More recently, though, teams and athletes have started to put similar focus on the psychological aspects of their game; particularly in a sport like soccer, where mental acuity and chemistry can make the difference between winning or losing, coaches are wise to ensure their players are in the best possible headspace to perform.
In Halifax, that’s where Danielle Poulos comes in. She recently began working regularly with the CPL’s HFX Wanderers FC as a mental performance coach, and she’ll be working regularly with players to help them find an edge.
“We’re looking to create high performance athletes from the mental standpoint,” Poulos told CanPL.ca. “Just like they might work with a strength and conditioning coach on their muscles and on their overall endurance, I work on the mental side of things. So we talk about things like mental strength, mental flexibility, mental endurance.”
Just as it’s important for athletes to warm up and recover their bodies around a game, Poulos explains that she’ll help players prepare mentally and then recharge following matchday.
“Lots of times when coaches first start to work (with me), they have no idea what I do,” she said. “It’s literally just another coach, with another yearly training plan, aligning with the other coaches so that the athletes can be the best that they can be in every area.”
Poulos, who is quick to point out that she’s not a clinical psychologist, but rather a coach, has a background across a variety of sports. Though originally involved with artistic swimming, she’s been coaching all kinds of athletes for the past 21 years.
That said, she does have plenty of experience with soccer, too; Poulos worked previously with the Dalhousie University team, as well as at the Canada Games. So, she understands well how to adapt her work to the idiosyncrasies of this particular game.
“Things like communication and teamwork are more important than in some individual sports, like racing sports or artistic sports; there’s kind of like three categories, I’ve worked quite a bit in game sports, in team sports like soccer.”
Since January, Poulos has been involved with the Wanderers as part of their Integrated Support Team — a group of professionals brought into the fold to help the club in a variety of ways. Poulos, along with several others, came aboard through her work with Canadian Sports Centre Atlantic (CSCA), a facility and organization that has already worked with the Wanderers previously but will now have a greater connection to the club.
For the rest of the story from February 8, 2022 by Charlie O’Connor-Clarke, please go to https://canpl.ca/article/just-another-coach-aligning-with-other-coaches-meet-danielle-poulos-hfx-wanderers-mental-performance-coach.