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October 4th, 2011

The mind is the single most important factor that differentiates the performances even of the very best athletes. The problem is that we tend to spend all our time focusing on our bodies, rather than on our minds, in part because we have too few experts to help us learn about our minds. I have had the pleasure of working with Tom Dawson-Squibb during the Ikey Tigers successful 2011 Varsity Cup campaign. I have been impressed by his passion, his intellect, his obvious thirst for knowledge and his search for new ideas. He is not someone who is comfortable with a fixed way of educating athletes. Instead he tries continuously to improve himself and his craft.

Professor Tim Noakes – Sports Science Institute of South Africa

From the first day I came in contact with them I had the feeling that this was helping my team and to improve their performance. The programmes that Tom and Rowan made for us were great. They placed importance in the performance of the first team primarily. Individual work with players and staff, or work in smaller groups also helped individuals to perform better within the team. I feel that this helped us a lot.

Maarten Steklenburg – Former Ajax Cape Town former head coach

The life of a professional rugby player does not always relate to the glitz and glam that is often portrayed to the broader public. One aspect of performance, which I now realise the significance of, is the aptitude of mental strength. I had the privilege of working with Craig during my season at London Wasps, and he revolutionised the way in which I perceive the mental aspect of sport. Craig cultivated an effective and resilient way of controlling my mind through facilitating “the zone” and pursuing my ideal performance state.

I am forever grateful for my experience with Craig; he is extremely passionate, reassuring and positive in the way in which he enhances belief and drive. Craig improved my personal apprehension on how to confront pressure situations in my game. Through his competitive nature, he introduced an objective way of thinking, where I was able to diagnose controllable and uncontrollable aspects of a circumstance. Craig’s tireless efforts resurrected my personal temperament. If someone were to ask me for a recommendation on a mental coach; someone who is inspirational, hard working, dedicated, committed to enhancing the attributes of an individual or team, one name comes to mind- Craig McKenzie.

Stuart Commins – Former Northampton Saints, London Wasps and Oxford Blue rugby player

A mental coach is something I’ve never had before and something I’ve given little,  if any thought to. But Tom has brought was something completely different: an  objective way of thinking, what you can control and what to leave completely out the  picture. The time spent with him has helped us build on something deeper, something  that plays a bigger role in a sportsman’s world than most people realise.

Francois Louw – Springboks and Bath rugby player

As National Coach of the South African Ladies golf team, we have had the privilege of working with Tom while preparing the Team for the ultimate championship in amateur golf, the Espirito Santos World Amateur Team Championship. It has been a great learning experience for me personally as coach but more importantly Tom has brought a team together and has inspired each of them to WIN, and has taught us how to deal with different pressure situations and to understand that we have a choice in absolutely everything we do in life.  Thank you Tom it has been a journey that has taught us a great deal and we look forward to the future journeys with you.

Val Holland – SA National Women’s golf coach

I have had the privilege of working with Tom since I arrived back with the Stormers in February 2011. It has been a great learning experience for me – he has helped me personally with how to deal with different pressure situations, as well as better understand the psychological choices we need to make in order to succeed. Tom is very hard working and passionate about what he does. He has worked tirelessly throughout the season with individuals including myself as well as the team as a whole. He was very confident in his work and always in control when presenting to the group.

Peter Grant – Springbok and Stormers rugby player

I have been working with Tom for the last 4 years and I can say that without a doubt, if it were not for the countless hours we have worked together, my life would be very different. Firstly I would not be a professional rugby player- I do not have the freakish talent or outlandish genetics and secondly I would not have been able to win trophies in the professional environment. In professional sport all athletes train extremely hard and are coached by experts, but it is your mental strength and state that will win your game or beat your opponent.

I think the most important thing about Tom is that he knows how to win. His competitive nature is a great asset to his work. In the last 3 years I have been part of 3 different teams and have won 3 trophies – Tom was extremely involved in all 3 campaigns, working with the team as a whole and on a 1 on 1 basis with all the players. Working with Tom is always fun and enjoyable; he has an amazing gift of bringing a team together and creating a positive environment. I still to this day regularly work with Tom to strengthen and refine parts of my game. If I were a coach , Tom would be the first person I would hire.

Nic Groom – Stormers and WP rugby player

Tom played such a fundamental role in our campaign, and got all the players believing in themselves and their goals. He pulled us together in such a positive, and enjoyable way. The mental aspect of sport is an art, and it takes great planning and passion to get guys of totally different cultures and backgrounds to believe in one common goal. It gives me great pleasure to work with Tom, and to learn from him. He has an amazing gift and our campaign was a success due to his commitment and passion.

Kevin Foote – Current Western Force and former UCT Ikey Tigers Varsity Cup rugby coach

Rowan was a breath of fresh air, full of new ideas, giving us creative ways to improve our mental skills. Sessions were always well communicated and clearly constructed encouraging maximum interaction and feedback from the boys. A thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile experience where we all learned plenty about ourselves and about each other.

Nick Maurer – SACS 1st XV rugby coach

The first thing Head Start helped with was to help me define my short and long term goals in the game. It’s important to understand where you are and where you believe your ambitions lie. They helped me to identify my weaknesses and together we analyzed ways to deal with them and turn them into strengths. They taught me how to focus at the right time by getting into a zone that would keep me in a trigger state of mind to get the required results. Through these sessions, I learned that the majority of success in cricket is directly related into the amount of effort you put into your practices.

Michael Rippon – Cape Cobras cricketer

We brought Rowan in at a difficult time and he immediately made an impression with his positive approach and absolute professionalism. The team responded enthusiastically to his message and the effect on their approach to games and on field performance was immediately apparent. Rowan went way beyond the call of duty by attended matches and practices and feeding back his thoughts to us as coaches over weekends. His hard work and enthusiasm paid off handsomely.

Graeme Wepener – SACS 1st XV rugby coach

It was so refreshing to work on a part of the game that coaches and players normally discard, the mental side. Tom started working with us in a really crucial stage of the season, and our results proved that we were mentally stronger and more ready than our opposition. While working with Tom, we beat The Bulls twice, The Sharks and Free State. We didn’t loose a game. We won the U21 Currie Cup competition, and the consensus was that every player felt more mentally ready and confident after Tom joined us. We didn’t think it was possible to loose.”

Nick Koster – Former Stormers and current Bath rugby player