Sporting Partnerships


“I was not over-eager. I was a little bit faster” Sebastian Vettel after crashing into his teammate Mark Webber whilst attempting to overtake him during the F1 Turkish Grand Prix.

“It was a ******** disaster” Mark Webber.

Whether it’s for training purposes or for actually competing, forming a partnership can be a tricky task. So many factors have to be taken into consideration that partnerships can be formed for a number of different reasons. It could be to enhance the performance of both partners, for one partner to lead and mentor another, or simply for someone to keep you company during those long hours of training.

One of the first things any partnership should do is to establish what it is the partnership is being formed for. What does each partner want out of the partnership and what are they prepared to give? Be open and honest so that there is a clear understanding from the start. If there is sufficient common ground then a mutual vision with clear goals and objectives can be created so that a cohesive and collaborative unit is formed. If either of the two partners do not share the same vision then any partnership is likely to fail.

All successful partnerships share some common qualities. They help each other to learn, provide positive challenges or positive rivalry, help each other believe in themselves and their mission. They constructively analyse each others performance and contribution, provide encouragement when needed, and share actions and perspectives on how to improve each others performance and the partnership itself. If you add to that a sense of humour and good banter then not only will it be a successful partnership but it will be fun too.

Competition between partners can have very positive outcomes but if it leads to ongoing tension and conflict it can break the spirit of even the best partnerships and friendships. Just watch how things develop between Webber and Vettel for live evidence of this. A great partnership carries a spirit or sense of mission that lifts both partners. A partnership that is free from ongoing tension and conflict brings out the best in both partners and inspires them to give more of themselves and give more to each other. The first rule of ‘partner-competition’ should be that it does no harm to either partner’s performance. Every action that is taken and every comment that is made, whether by a member of the partnership or someone connected to it, has the potential to affect the spirit of the partnership. Positive actions drive good things; negative actions drive bad things. Being positive with each other and challenging each other in positive ways brings out the best in everyone.

Great partners give each other good reasons to believe in themselves, their goals and their capacity. They grab every opportunity to enhance confidence and avoid speaking or acting in ways that undermine confidence. They challenge each other to push their limits and become better performers, but they do it in positive and respectful ways. This approach is empowering. The best partnerships are formed when people feel valued, supported and respected. When this happens they give more of themselves, give more to others and perform at a higher level on a more consistent basis.

There are two great partnerships in this years Formula 1; Webber-Vettel and Hamilton-Button. Each driver has the ability and the desire to win the championship but of course only one person can ultimately claim the prize. We have seen the first major incident between Webber and Vettel and a very near-miss between Hamilton and Button in what was almost a carbon-copy incident. It promises to be a fascinating competition and I for one am expecting plenty more excitement yet.

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