High-performance coach Rob Yates has brought a new focus to the FNB Madibaz rugby team in their preparations for the Varsity Shield tournament.
The Nelson Mandela University outfit finished top of the log last year and will be looking for a similar effort this time to have a chance of returning to the top-flight Varsity Cup in 2021.
Yates, a top-level consultant who specialises in mental conditioning, will be hoping to see the fruits of his efforts when the first match is played at the Madibaz Stadium in Port Elizabeth against University of KwaZulu-Natal on February 14.
Aimed at improving the players’ performances across the board, Yates said he was working with the players to become the very best version of themselves.
“In rugby specifically I have been working on them to increase their mental ability and I expect to raise their mental threshold by 40 to 90% over this season.”
He added that much of his approach was to talk about and commit to an all-round standard of excellence
“I work with them to understand their world to a much higher degree and to understand how they can leverage their given talents and mitigate the impact of things which we identify can limit their performance.
“This is obviously different for each player and that is the most challenging part of what I do.”
Yates, who grew up in the United Kingdom and moved to South Africa seven years ago, was a professional kayaker before a serious injury ended that career.
He then spent years studying the mental aspect of sport and is now sharing that expertise with others.
“I have worked with medalling Olympians, Super Rugby teams, Varsity Football teams and world-class kayakers over the past 15 years,” he said.
He felt he could bring an external perspective to the Madibaz team this year.
“I will bring into play what’s working from not just rugby, but all successful high-performance sports.
“To date the response from the players and management has been brilliant and engaged.
“They want to be better and are willing to move heaven and earth to achieve it.”