Coach Certification Stories – Seif Wardani Explores the Human Side of Elite Sports

What is it like to take part in Hintsa’s Coach Certification programme? Sports Physiotherapist Seif Wardani shares his experiences from his 9-month journey.

Seif Wardani is an Australian Sports Physiotherapist who has been working with several elite level European football clubs in the areas of sports performance and injury rehabilitation. He has also been working as a member of the medical team for the Men’s Professional Tennis Tour, the ATP Tour, since 2015.

With years of coaching experience under your belt, what made you join Hintsa’s Coach Certification programme?

“My educational background is in Sports Science and Physiotherapy, however as I noticed how athletes have evolved over my years of involvement in sports, I started searching for a comprehensive course that took a holistic approach to assessing and managing elite athletes. This is when I came across Hintsa, a company that had an impressive track record at the highest levels of elite sports. Upon researching their certification programme and methodology I decided it was exactly what I was looking for: a holistic performance based approach incorporating multiple athletic contributors from Nutrition, Sleep & Recovery, Mental Energy, as well as Physical Capacity and Biomechanics, to support and drive elite athletes in achieving their maximal potentials, and maintaining long-term optimal performance.”

What have been your biggest learnings from the programme?

“The Coach Certification programme has definitely been very eye opening for me, and has changed my perspective on several topics, as well as added to my knowledge base and clinical tool kit. I believe where the program has challenged me the most, is in evolving my hard scientific clinical thought processes, and taking into account softer approaches which incorporate an athlete’s emotional and mental state of mind. This came with a lot of background material on sport and behavioural psychology which was presented through the course, as well as Hintsa’s strong focus on exploring a person’s Personality and Character Strengths, Values, and Core and Social identity before commencing work with the athlete.

As the late Doctor Aki Hintsa put it so eloquently: “Communication from heart to heart, and not just from head to head is needed.” This cannot happen without a genuine connection between the coach and the client or athlete. Hintsa has a great way of exploring and establishing this connection with assessments and tools that are performed at the beginning of the coaching journey, before the coach even starts working with the athlete. A huge focus is put on getting to know the person and the human being behind the athlete before starting any engagement.

Another gem I’ve taken from this course is the importance of assessing and managing the client as a whole and as a human being first and foremost. In the Hintsa Model, a lot of emphasis is put on the psychology and emotions behind creating sustainable healthy habits and life-long transformations of the body and mind. I have also had the opportunity to significantly expand on my knowledge and understanding of Motivational Interviewing, as well as refine my communication skills. The concepts of Value Based Actions and Autonomy Supported Behaviours also resonated with me a lot from my learnings on the programme.

Finally, one of my favourite quotes from my tutor Heikki Huovinen during this course has been this statement; “We are always becoming.” Meaning that we are always transforming, learning, developing, changing, and refining ourselves through life. There is no finish line to the “being” part of human being. In Heikki’s words; “it’s not human been, it’s human being.” That’s why everything starts with the Core and Values.”

Was there anything that surprised you in the content?

“The amount of science and literature that actually exists on Mental Energy, as well as Sleep and Recovery is bewildering. Some of it is so hard to find when researching it yourself, but given that Hintsa actually works with some of the top researchers and scientists in their fields, this material is readily available at your fingertips, and straight from the horse’s mouth. I was blown away with the level of detail and intricacy involved in developing for example jet-lag prevention tables and sleep and recovery programs, as well as the amount of lead-up focus and education that goes into it all.”

How has taking part in this programme changed your coaching style?

“This program has definitely made me question a lot of my own knowledge, experiences, methods and theories. Some of these I have adjusted, some I have refined, and others I have thrown out completely. The most significant impact has probably been in my communication approach and motivational interviewing skills. The course allows you the space and platform to question and challenge yourself and your practices in a safe and comfortable environment with your peers. This ultimately provides you with a birds-eye view of your own methods, several opportunities for structured reflection, plus differing points of view from your own colleagues. This in turn allows you to mould and shape a new coaching approach over an extended period of time.

As mentioned before, this course allowed me to gain in-depth insight into several parameters that comprise the complete picture of managing an athlete, a client, and most importantly a human being. This is done by putting a very strong emphasis on exploring a person’s core values first and foremost, by assessing their character strengths and personality traits, as well as gaining an understanding of their emotional and mental state of mind, before diving into any physiological, physical, nutritional, or psychological habits. This is what provides the foundation for Value Based Actions & Autonomy Supportive Coaching. Focusing on the Self instead of the Outcome.”

Who would you recommend Hintsa Certification programme to?

“I would recommend this course to any allied health practitioner that would like to expand their knowledge not just of the human body and physiology, but also the human psych and mind, and their relationship in establishing the foundations of Autonomy Supported Behaviours, as well as long-term healthy habits that yield a balanced lifestyle and therefore optimal performance. I believe this course will also provide a lot of insight for any practitioner that is looking to get involved in the elite sports realm, or already has some years of experience with elite athletes or within high performance sporting organisations. I can assure you there will always be an insight or an approach or a theory that you were not aware of, that will add to your toolkit and knowledge base. This programme will yield the best outcome to the open-minded practitioner that is always on the lookout for improvement and refinement.”

Do you want to learn the skills to coach at the highest level of business and sports?  Read more about Hintsa’s Coach Certification programme and apply now!