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Sean Bowden

Oxford University Boat Club

Chief Coach

Stephen started working with the OUBC Squad at the start of the 2019-20 season and was able to influence both individual as well as the team behaviour from the start.


With the Blue Boat selected, his close work with the crew clearly helped them to challenge themselves allowing them to see greater opportunities for improvement and control of their performance.


Consistency of performance in elite sport is a necessity and something that many athletes struggle with often seeing outside factors as dominant leaving them as some kind of passive victim.



Much of Stephen’s work addresses this issue increasing the skill and belief of the athlete to fix problems and appraise performance correctly.


Stephen’s use of formal psychological constructs delivered in a language and style that connects well to the athletes allows for an effective working relationship to flourish.


The rowers respond well to being challenged and Stephen delivers his message and ideas in a way that appeals to anyone driven to succeed but perhaps just not quite sure of how to get there.

Tobias Schroder

Oxford University Boat Club Athlete

GB U23 National Team Athlete

The work Stephen did with us at OUBC over the 2020 season was invaluable.


It was the first time in eight years of rowing that I had coaching for my attitude to training and racing.


Stephen met with us regularly throughout the season, first as a whole squad and then in a smaller group with more detailed discussions after we separated into the Blue Boat to prepare for the Boat Race.

He helped us to build one killer instinct that we brought to both training and racing. When we had this attitude we knew that we would produce results. He put our performance in our control.


Too often in my past seasons and teams, we’ve been waiting to find the mindset needed to win. Stephen facilitated conversations between athletes that showed clearly what needed to be addressed to bring the best out of ourselves.

Stephen didn’t build anything that we didn’t already have: he made us aware of what needed to be done to succeed at the highest level and helped us bring that attitude out from within ourselves.


The result was a boat that was like no other I’ve experienced in its passion and motivation to be the best it could be.

Photo by AllMarkOne ©

Bobby Thatcher

St Paul's School

Director of Rowing and 1st Eight Coach

Conditioning performances in work and sport comes down to the simple fact of developing into a better version of oneself.

Stephen has been a valuable part of the team working with SPSBC since late 2017.

He has taught the seniors to become more self-aware and intrinsically focused, ensuring a simple process when it comes to performing under pressure.

In turn, it has reinforced the consistency and increased performances both on the water and their academics. 

Photo by WEROW ©

Douwe De Graaf

Harvard University

Double World Champion JM4-            2017, 2018

World Record Holder JM4-                 2018

2 x National Champion in Champ 8’s  2017-2018

Henley Royal Regatta  Record Holder   2018

Stephen was a hugely useful component of our training programme for the 2018 season.


From day 1, in our first few whole team discussions, he helped us to slowly gain an idea of what we wanted to be - both on and off the water - to ultimately make us reach our full potential. The idea was to create a “Paul’s Mindset” which the whole team could buy into. This mindset evolved over the year but the main principles were constant. This not only strengthened team spirit but increased consistency.


Although very useful in maintaining consistency - Stephen was probably most useful in the run-up to races. As nerves increased and tensions heightened this was the time that things could fall apart most easily. He helped us enter a race day with the exact same expectations of ourselves and of our teammates. This made sure we were all on the same page as we got onto the start line and confident that we all knew exactly what we were doing and that everyone was backing each other up.

George Dickinson

Princeton University

World Champion JM8+                               2018

2 x National Champion in Champ 8’s            2017-2018

Henley Royal Regatta  Record Holder              2018

Lightweight Junior 2km National Record Holder 2018

Working with Stephen early in the season significantly improved the group's overall consistency he was able to keep us focused on the end goal when we were far out from the racing season

I also thought it takes time before we start seeing more actual boat speed from working with Stephen and I’m glad we had since the end of our 2017 season


Specifically, I thought the times when Stephen made the most difference was before SHORR 2018, focusing on simple aspects made a huge difference for the race.


Another example was Henley when we talked about the process of preparing for the race and managing ourselves throughout.

Our talks before big races managing people’s nerves and building confidence about doing what we would do on a regular basis and having a set plan around racing.

Ollie Parish

Cambridge University

World Champion JM8+                     2018

World Silver Medalist JM4-                 2019

National Champion in Champ 8’s       2018

Henley Royal Regatta  Record Holder   2018

It was great working with Stephen over the last 2 years.


The impact on me directly was pretty stabilising, over the course of the 2 years I feel like I've become more self-aware with my actions and how they impact the people around me. Having the tools to really get the boat around me moving was instrumental in the success there.


Being intrinsically motivated was another really simple one, able to be bulletproof in the face of any setbacks.


On the group as a whole, I think there was definitely a big impact, especially when we separated into a first 8. 


I think regards to building performance and consistency he has helped a lot, having a very very clear focus for each piece or each session just to get one thing right really boosts engagement and progress. Having a defined process each session we do really helps with nerves and confidence when it comes to racing as well, especially at Henley. 

Performance Youth Mentoring London
"Our mission is to develop the athletes of today into truly exceptional individuals, encouraging and guiding them to surpass far beyond what they thought was possible and, in turn, show to others the tools and skills they have learned."
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