Interview LOUISE DAHL
Louise Dahl, Personal Trainer and Strength & Conditioning coach Djurgården hockey.
What’s the most inspiring part of working together with athletes at the highest level?
For me it’s to see the passion they have for their sport. Their focus and drive to always develop their skills and get better every day. The amount of time and effort they put into their training and their sport is truly inspiring.
What is the most challenging part?
The most challenging part of working with a team is obviously that they are all individuals with different needs, physical status, age etc, and for me to maximize the limited timeframe I have to make the best workout possible, for everyone. A big challenge for me is also to set a good programming when everyone’s daily schedule includes practices, workouts, games, work, school, recovery etc.
It’s also hard to not be able to relate 100% to my players. I would love to know how they feel after a tough game or practice, which is hard for me since I never been an ice hockey player myself.
Another struggle is to make up my mind with what exercises to do, and when. There are so many ways of training and too many good exercises to make this job easy.
What is your aim in life? How do you want to live? What do you want to do?
What motivates you?
My aim in life is to have a rich life. With rich I mean to work smart and live to the fullest, not wasting my energy on people or situations that doesn´t give me energy. I have never had money or success as a motivator. For me it’s the fun that drives me. To be happy at work, surround myself with people I enjoy spending time with, to be able to prioritize myself and the activities that makes me happy and gives me energy is important. In that way I have much more resources of giving from myself to the people around me. I get motivated to help people get better at what they do, see their progress, and feel the power it gives them.
How do you handle the thin line between your striving to get better, to accomplish things and at the same time maintain a sense of inner peace and a value as a human being, no matter what you accomplish or not?
That’s hard. I have a high level of ambition, but I also have become better at being kind to myself. Reminding myself that I am doing the best I can and that I should’t doubt myself too much. I’m lucky to have a fantastic mental coach and a psychologist by my side which conversations always helps me a lot.
How do you handle self-doubt…?
I use help from my mental coach and a psychologist for my personal growth, which also means getting better at handling my self-doubt. Other than that, I make sure I surround myself with positive people who can give me advise and who I can have rewarding conversations with. When I end up in self-doubt, I usually call someone close to me, a friend or my sister or makes an appointment with my coach. It’s very important for me to talk about my frustration right away, it always gets me in a better mood. Usually, I take a long walk or a run as well. It makes my mind clear.
Where do you think self-doubt comes from?
It’s easy to get stuck in comparing yourself with others, persuading yourself that everyone is better than you. Our inner critic is the toughest critic, and I have a hard time accepting that that’s the way we work. Instead of doubting our abilities and skills we should focus on our strengths, which we usually don’t do. Another thing that I think reinforces self-doubt is the thought of what other people expect from us. That can cause a lot of stress, but those thoughts might not always be correct. We get stuck imagine what their expectations might be, instead of finding out about them. It’s also easy to put high expectations upon ourselves, and forget to take the surrounding conditions in consideration.
How do you help your athletes to handle the pressure to perform and the intensity required in training to actually get better?
I try to be sensitive about how they are doing. I often check in with my athletes about how they are feeling. I care about their health, both physical and mental, and I care for the person behind the athlete. For me it is important that they feel they can trust and confide in me. I’m transparent in my communication and flexible to make changes according to their daily form.
I also push them in a flexible way, I mix positive encouragement with showing I’m serious about my expectations on them.
You have worked with, learned from and connected with many types of coaches, leaders, trainers etc… What do you think characterize a phenomenal trainer, coach and leader?
A phenomenal trainer/coach/leader is a person who’s genuine. Who sees the person behind the athlete, who’s good at communicating, have structure and can both give and receive feedback.
A phenomenal trainer/coach/leader is a person that sees the value of personal development, striving to get better themselves and believes that one can always work on being a better leader.
Passion, knowledge and the ability to communicate well brings good energy to the team/athlete.
How do you personally handle bad leaders?
I am trying to be open in my communication, suggesting different options/situations and discuss with them. I ask for permission to give feedback if I feel the person is open to handle the feedback. Most of all I try to not let it affect my mood and take too much of my energy.
What do you think is required from now on, both as a leader and as a human being, to actually make a positive impact on this planet? What do we all need?
Care about other people. Be genuine and work on your personal development to be a better person. Make sure you do things for yourself and for your well-being.
Dare to be aware about your own behavior – how it affects others and how you can manage it to facilitate for those around you.
We all need happiness, love and a balance between inner peace and hard work.
To lead, coach and make people better, knowledge is fundamental. But it’s not enough.
What do you think are some of the most important personality traits to actually have the opportunity and gift to make people better? To get true access to who they really are, and with that, also to their fears, weaknesses and existential questions?
To be open and curious. Honest and personal.
To have courage to make tough decisions and discuss tough subjects, without judgment.
Showing that you care for real and wanting the best for that person, no matter the situation.
Loving and caring goes far.
What’s one thing that you think that young athletes – no matter sport – should focus on that will contribute to their journey towards their full potential?
To have fun! To continue because they want to, not because they have to or someone else says so. Passion makes you strive forward like no other force.
What are the most important standards in your life? What are non-negotiables?
Laughter, socializing, exercise/activities, sleep.
When you enter the last hour of your life – with one word – what do you think would have mattered the most?
Joy! For the most part of my life I’ve had lots of joy, which made my life rich.
Marcus Falk Olander