Jobs4football meets Adam Lussey of AJL Consultancy
Introducing Adam Lussey, the visionary owner of AJL Consultancy, where the realms of Sport Psychology, Mindset Coaching, and Performance Enhancement converge to redefine athletic excellence. With a rich tapestry of experiences spanning elite youth football environments, retail, hospitality, and professional sports, Adam’s journey epitomises a fusion of diverse expertise.
In this Jobs4football Q+A meets interview, Adam delves into the genesis of his consultancy, tracing his evolution from the competitive world of football to the entrepreneurial realm. Overcoming hurdles like imposter syndrome, he recounts his ascent from coaching amateurs to guiding international-level athletes, a testament to his unwavering dedication and early successes.
Adam’s coaching ethos, meticulously crafted over 13 years of study and practice, hinges on personalized methodologies tailored to individual athletes’ needs. From cultivating rapport to instilling mental resilience, his approach resonates with athletes across ages and backgrounds.
Central to AJL Consultancy’s ethos is its seamless blend of face-to-face and online coaching, ensuring consistent quality and accessibility. Through compelling success stories, Adam unveils the transformative impact of his coaching, underpinned by measurable improvements in athletes’ mindset and performance.
Moreover, Adam elucidates the paramount importance of confidentiality and trust in fostering athletes’ mental well-being, fostering a safe haven for open dialogue. As a torchbearer for mental well-being in sports, Adam envisions a future where personalized coaching revolutionizes athlete development, debunking stigmas and paving the way for holistic growth.
Join us as we unravel the dynamic world of AJL Consultancy, where passion, expertise, and innovation converge to unlock the full potential of athletes worldwide.
Q: Can you share more about your journey in psychology and performance coaching, and how your experience in retail, hospitality, and professional sports has shaped your approach to working with individuals and teams in diverse industries?
A: My passion for working in sport began in childhood. I grew up around an elite level youth football environment, providing me first-hand experience, understanding and appreciation of the pressures and challenges faced by talented young athletes on their journey to professional sport. Having this insight has been invaluable and shaped my professional philosophy when working with both athletes and their families. I can relate to the highs and lows they face during training and competition, both inside and outside their sport. This adds to the respect and trust they have in my commitment to being open and supportive throughout their sporting journey.
Although appearing to be completely unrelated to sport, my years of experience working in industries such as retail and hospitality has also helped shape the coaching philosophy I have today. Excelling in developing rapport; building and maintaining strong relationships; growing my interpersonal skills to the highest standard; leading a team in pressure situations; and becoming adaptable, driven and resilient are all transferable skills that evolved during my career in these people-oriented environments.
I started studying Sport Psychology 13 years ago. Equipped with 2 degrees, work experience in a Premier League Academy setup, a deep passion for supporting, coaching and developing athletes, and the sporting knowledge and personal attributes I’ve described above, my coaching philosophy and AJL Consultancy was formed.
Q: How did you transition from previous roles to establishing and leading your own consultancy? What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?
A: Taking the step into establishing my own consultancy was a huge risk which took 12 months of preparation, dedication and hard work, with numerous challenges along the way. Some of these challenges, such as creating a business from scratch and building a client base are obvious. However, my biggest personal challenge in the early stages of my journey was something most footballers and athletes can relate to – facing something called imposter syndrome (feeling like a “fraud” in your environment and doubting your ability to perform). Having no background of playing top level sport, the early uncertainty was there… how can I support and develop this population of elite level athletes if I have no personal experience in the challenges they are facing?
To get past this, you need early success to build the platform and self-belief that you are worthy and can make a success of pursuing your ambitions. I went from coaching amateur or recreational athletes, to within 2 years, working alongside professional athletes competing on the international stage in major tournaments, future Olympic hopefuls, and youth footballers playing in some of the best football Academies in the country. It has been a rise I am proud of, that has come from overcoming the imposter syndrome, believing I have the skills and ability to support, develop and improve athletes no matter their age, ability or sport.
Q: As the founder and lead consultant at AJL Consultancy, could you elaborate on the specific methodologies and approaches you use in providing Sport Psychology, Mindset, and Performance coaching to athletes of all ages and backgrounds? How do you tailor your services to meet the unique needs of individual athletes?
A: My career is all about being able to use my personality and coaching methods to positively influence an athlete’s thoughts, attitudes and behaviours. Mental skills strategies and techniques are coached to help, for example, build confidence, reduce anxiety, recover from setbacks or ensure elite level preparation is carried out to successfully transfer training performances into match day. The journey with a new player begins with a first background session to understand their strengths, areas for improvement, current preparation methods, goals and motivations for their career. We then work together to tailor a development plan, aiming to see positive results on their mindset, preparation, mental and physical approach and performances.
Q: AJL Consultancy emphasises face-to-face and online coaching for athletes. Can you discuss the challenges and advantages of delivering mental performance coaching through different mediums? How do you ensure the effectiveness of your coaching in both settings?
A: It is really important to me that no matter how I deliver my coaching, every athlete I work with has the same quality of session. There are some obvious advantages of working face-to-face – it can sometimes be easier to develop the rapport and relationship smoother with a player and their family when working at their home rather than across a screen. However, the session content is always the same regardless of how it is delivered. The support materials I use are the same whether I bring them to a session or send them over online. I always create a personalised WhatsApp group for each player/family, allowing them 24/7 access to me if required for any support and guidance throughout our journey.
Q: In your role at AJL Consultancy, you’ve developed successful and long-standing relationships with clients. Can you share a specific case or success story where your coaching had a significant positive impact on an athlete’s mindset and performance? What strategies did you employ in that particular case?
A: I’ve been fortunate to work alongside some tremendously dedicated and talented athletes that have led to some great success stories. I am always keen to stress that any success we have together is entirely down to themselves and their contribution to applying what I coach in sessions both in and out of their sport. I am a small cog in the support network wheel including family, coaches etc. To achieve the success my athletes I have achieved, they are the ones engaging, practicing and applying the new skills and techniques we work on in sessions.
There is one example that stands out, that I believe most footballers can relate to no matter what age or level they compete. I worked with a golfer, who was very successful early in his youth career, consistently winning tournaments and improving his skillset. He got to a level in his development where he took a big step up in terms of quality of golfers he was competing against. He was not having the same success he had been used to, and was no longer winning or even coming close to winning tournaments. This impacted on lots of areas in both his sport and personal life. He was losing his motivation to practice and train, his emotions when playing where often negative (frustration, disappointment, confusion and anger), his confidence was shot and he was seriously contemplating leaving the sport.
Within 6 months of working on his preparation, mindset, confidence, goal setting, training schedule, diet, gym work (every small 1% marginal gain that can quickly snowball if not given the elite level structure and seriousness needed to compete at high level sport), he had a renewed sense of motivation and dedication to his sport; was playing with confidence; enjoying his sport again; and eventually back to winning tournaments and representing his club at regional and national level. This story of self-doubt and loss of confidence, decrease in motivation and not putting the appropriate work and seriousness into all the “small stuff” is something that plenty of footballers will experience at times in their career.
“I can’t recommend Adam highly enough. The sessions are always engaging and fun as well as being very professional. They are bespoke sessions that make you feel valued as an individual, and that Adam really cares about the impact sessions will have. My whole perspective on my sport has changed since working with Adam. I have gone from seeing it as a chore to enjoying my craft again and having a much more positive mindset throughout every area of my life, not just my sport”.
Q: Your clients have provided testimonials praising the positive impact of your sessions. How do you measure and assess the success of your coaching interventions? Are there specific performance metrics or indicators you use to gauge the effectiveness of your services?
A: From the start of our journey, I make it clear to athletes that I am no magician. I can’t turn them into a new athlete in the space of a few months. Our work together is based around their own mentality, preparation and personal improvements as well as performance improvements.
Some players are now preparing themselves in a much more professional and elite way, their diet and training routines are more structured, and they are able to express themselves and be more confident in training, as well as having the necessary mental tools to replicate that on match days. These can all be great indicators of a successful service. If they can successfully achieve this, we hope this leads to performance improvements we can measure. I have had athletes knock valuable seconds off their PB times, win races and competitions they have never succeeded in before, stay injury free for the first time over a long period and achieve a career high number of goals in a season.
Q: Considering the sensitive nature of mental health, how do you approach confidentiality and discretion in your consultancy? Can you discuss the importance of creating a safe and trusting environment for athletes to openly address their mental health concerns and challenges?
A: This is an area of my work I take extremely seriously. I believe the opportunity to work independently with players away from their clubs and coaches brings a huge benefit to the service I provide and the effectiveness of the process. Players and parents know they have that confidential, 1-2-1 source of support and guidance that is so often missing from a high-level football environment. With this comes a responsibility and commitment from my side to ensure that no coaches or football clubs are aware of who I work with.
I believe the private and unique nature of this support is one of its biggest strengths. Parents have the peace of mind that anything we discuss or work on in sessions will not go back to the club or coaching staff. I have had the same conversations with many players and parents that this is something that brings a huge sense of relief and trust in the process. Players and parents are often afraid to go to coaches to discuss areas they may be struggling with or they feel they need to improve, fearing it could have an impact on their development, their place in the side or the opinions coaches or players will have on them. My coaching removes that barrier to ensure we have a transparent and trusting process, allowing me to provide the best knowledge and tools to help them to reach their potential.
Q: AJL Consultancy deals with athletes from various sports. How do you stay updated on the unique psychological challenges associated with different sports, and how do you tailor your coaching to address these specific challenges?
A: This was another early challenge that I faced in my coaching journey. My real sporting passions lie in football and golf. However, some of the early athletes that I coached took part in sports that, on paper, I had little knowledge of and were very much out of my comfort zone, such as rugby and motocross. Again, imposter syndrome kicked in. Can I coach and support athletes in a sport I know very little about?
I quickly learned that sport is sport, people are people, performance is performance, regardless of the sport the athlete is involved in. The sessions I coach are bespoke and tailored to each individual athlete, however they can be universally applied to all ages, ability levels and sport.
Q: As a passionate advocate for mental well-being in sports, how do you envision the future of Sport Psychology and mindset coaching? Are there emerging trends or innovations in the field that you find particularly exciting or promising
A: The majority of my educational study was tailored towards mental health at the elite level of professional sport. It is an area I have always been incredible passionate about, and something that guides my coaching philosophy and the nature of my service. With the sacrifices and challenges young footballers encounter, especially in the current climate of social media and the social pressures surrounding being a successful player, having someone with the awareness and capability to identify potential signs and symptoms of mental health, as well as understanding how to address, support and recover from these issues is something that adds another unique layer to my service.
A huge trend I have noticed over the last 12 months is the increase in parents and youth athletes interested in the area of Sport Psychology, and understanding the importance of having the right mentality to become successful in sport. There is no doubt there is still a stigma attached. The perception that this area is based on sitting in a room opposite a man with a clipboard asking you to talk about your thoughts, feelings and past needs to be quashed. My service isn’t a form of talking therapy, it’s a coaching session. It’s not about digging into your past to fix perceived mental weaknesses, it’s about working together to understand your areas of great strength, improvement areas, motivations and goals to help provide you knowledge and tools to perform at your highest level, when it matters most, as consistently as we can achieve… and having fun and a sense of achievement and pride along the way.
Q: What is your ultimate ambition with AJL Consultancy in football?
A: My aim is for as many players, parents and clubs to be aware that this service and coaching is out there for players and families. It is an opportunity to learn new transferable skills that can help not just in sport, but in daily life. I hope for opportunities to deliver sessions to coaches on the area of mentality and performance, helping them to add an extra layer to their coaching philosophy and methods to get the most out of their players both individually and collectively. I have lots of exciting ideas and plans lined up to continue to evolve and improve the service AJL Consultancy offers moving forward.
My ultimate ambition is to be seen as the best coach in the country in my profession, the go-to for mentality and performance coaching, helping to fulfill as many athletes ambitions, dreams and potential as possible.
In closing, Adam Lussey’s journey epitomises the power of perseverance, passion, and purpose in reshaping the landscape of sports psychology and performance coaching. Through AJL Consultancy, he not only transforms athletes’ mindsets and performances but also champions a culture of holistic well-being and growth.
As we close to this enlightening interview, Adam’s vision shines brightly on the horizon. With an unwavering commitment to excellence and a boundless drive to innovate, he continues to pave the way for a new era in athlete development.
To connect with Adam and embark on your own journey of self-discovery and athletic mastery, visit AJL Consultancy’s social media pages @ajlconsultancy and website www.ajlconsultancy.com. Join the ranks of athletes worldwide who have experienced first hand the transformative power of Adam’s coaching.
As we look towards the future, let us heed Adam’s words as a beacon of inspiration: “Believe in your potential, commit to your journey, and embrace the process. With the right mindset and unwavering determination, greatness awaits.”