A Sports Psychologist Looks at Episode 90: The Coach/Climber Dynamic


"A good coach-athlete relationship means that coaches allow themselves to not always be right..."

- Madeleine Eppensteiner | Climbing Psychology

In episode 90 of the podcast I sat down with Taylor Reed and Bella Jariel for an interesting discussion that explores how their relationship as coach and climber contributes to their success. I walked away from that conversation with increased admiration for both Bella and Taylor's willingness to be open and vulnerable to improve themselves.

Taking that idea even further, Taylor reached out to sport psychologist and climber, Madeleine Eppensteiner, and asked for her analysis of the episode and the relationship between he and Bella. You can find more from Madeleine at Climbing Psychology.

Taylor says, "It is certainly a little scary to ask someone you respect, but don’t know, to analyze the relationship between you and your athlete, but I’m glad I did. From discussing why athletes should take an active part in their own training, to finding a balance between autonomy, flexibility, authority and trust, to an excellent point about focusing on an athlete’s emphasis on their self rather than others, Madeleine’s perspective is insightful reading and eminently practical.

One of my favorite excerpts of Madeleine's analysis: "A good coach-athlete relationship means that coaches allow themselves to not always be right, give their athletes space to e.g. discover moves themselves, and also don’t see it as critique of their coaching abilities if the athlete doesn’t do something exactly the way they had said, e.g. executing a move. So much for autonomy and flexibility. From what I can tell about Taylor’s and Bella’s relationship by listening to the podcast, they seem to have a great balance of autonomy, flexibility, authority and trust. There is no “misuse of power“, both are equal in their relationship (Frester, 1995 – old but still contemporary research!)."

Taylor's highlights based on the analysis – Athlete/coach meshing: 8:25 – 10:15 | Humility: 12:20 – 14:12 | Failure at Worlds: 15:10 – 17:15 | Mutual decisions: 21:00 – 22:05 | Stress: 23:30 – 25:15 | Belle Pushing Back: 29:15 – 30:45 | Outside Climbing: 35:30 – 39:55 | Belle embracing her discomfort. 45:05 – 46:30