Coaching Neurolinguistic, Construction and Validation of a Rapport Observation System

  • Carla Martins
  • José Guilherme
  • Tomás Baêna
  • Luzia Wittmann
  • Rafaela Matevelli
  • Cláudia Carmo
  • Saúl Neves de Jesus
  • António Paula Brito


The research design is delineated according to the procedures of the qualitative methodology, being exploratory as to its general objective and, phenomenologically from a technical point of view. The Research Question How can one transform the limiting beliefs of sport performance into empowering beliefs? leads to the following objective, to optimize and consolidate a holistic intervention model that proposes an interface between the approaches of sports psychology and neurolinguistic programming. In this case the intention is to modify limiting beliefs.

Neurolinguistic programming (NLP) aims to enrich and make operational the deep structures of the person, allowing him/her to transform old, inefficient models in appropriate behaviors through the awareness and the emergence of the resources present in the deep structure of the personality. Thus, it is intended to help the person to be aware of how their behavior is based on their beliefs and values.

The holistic intervention model consists of four stages: 1. definition of a short, medium and long term sports career action plan, based on the characterization of the athlete and the context that surrounds him through SWOT analysis (strength, weakness, opportunities and threats), and characterization of the dimensions of sports performance (technical-tactical, fitness, psychological, social and spiritual skills); 2. application of the coaching process; 3. stages of training psychological skills: education and training of a technique to change limiting beliefs into empowering beliefs, acquisition of a technique, practice and evaluation; 4. evaluation. The coaching process involves the coach (the person who leads) and the coachee (person who is led) and consists of the following phases: i) mirroring, assuming the behaviors of the coachee; ii) establishing rapport by creating empathy; iii) lead the coachee to the  desired state.  

According to Dilts et al. (1996) beliefs are unconscious processes of organized thought; are not necessarily based on a system of logical ideas, because their function is not to coincide with reality; are contagious; are a belief system, as they relate to the expectations inherent in the objectives, the self-efficacy and the result. Truly believing in something leads one to behave in a congruent way. The belief system guides our behavior in our daily lives. Lipton (2015) states that belief is located in the nervous system that consists of nerve cells, which leads us to the biology of belief; the cell is a programmable chip whose behavior and genetic activity are primarily controlled by environmental signals rather than genes. Lipton (2015) adds that approaching thinking is addressing the conscious and unconscious minds that are interconnected; the first generates 5% of the time and experiences of our lives; programs acquired by the subconscious mind make up 95% or more of our experiences (Szegedy-Maszak, 2005, cited by Lipton, 2015), work without conscious mind control, and are acquired from parents, family and community before age 6. years.


Psychologists recognize that most of these developmental programs are limiting and disabling, and the solution is to reprogram the subconscious.

Martins (Martins et al., 2017) considers that sports performance is defined as the process of performing a motor task / behavior that results from the mobilization of individual resources (physical fitness, motor skill, psychological abilities, social capacities and spiritual abilities) that culminates in a certain result of failure or success and / or sport performance. Sports performance can be measured in terms of outcome and process.

In order to respond to the research problem, the present study has four moments. On the first moment it is being built and validate a Rapport Observation System (Sistema de Observação de Rapport – SOR) - focus of this abstract - allowing to measure the performance of the coach in establishing rapport with the coachee. Being an exploratory study, regarding the coaching process, only two out of three steps will be considered, namely, mirroring the coachee's behavior and creating rapport with him. The sample are the observation periods considered to validate the instrument.

The accomplishment of this operational objective involves four tasks: i) construction of the categories - inductive recategorization that involves the opinion of panels of specialists in neurolinguistic programming, in psychology, in sports and in observational methodology and the accomplishment of two pilot observations intra and inter subject; ii) construction of the observation manual whose objective is to guide and standardize the observation process in order to reduce the deviations resulting from the capture of the meanings of observed behaviors involving the identification of criteria and levels of categories, description of each of the criteria and observation conditions; iii) construction of the registration instrument, which corresponds to the Categories System, in which the registration unit is the means to identify the behaviors to be observed, being recorded and treated in ATLAS.ti; iv) validity and reliability by consensus, Cohen's Kappa, through 10 intra- and inter-subject observations that will allow to extract data.

In the she second moment it will be built and validate a Belief Observation System (Sistema de Observação de Crenças – SOC) to measure coach performance in identifying and modifying coachee beliefs (the third step of the coaching process). The combination of the products of these two moments generate a System of Observation of the Coaching Process for Beliefs (Sistema de Observação do Processo de Coaching para Crenças - SOPCC). That will allow to answer to the research question because it is intended: to identify and to characterize the limiting beliefs of the sport performance; intervene by applying both the proposed holistic model and a formula that modifies limiting beliefs in beliefs that empower sports performance.