ABOUT ME

In my professional capacity, I guide individuals, organisations and teams who are leaders in their craft to excel in high pressure and high stakes environments. My clients are typically stand-out operators in their field of professional/elite sport, business, medicine or elite military units in Australia, NZ and the USA. They are looking for a performance edge, or are performing sub-optimally due to factors either inside, or outside, their chosen arena of performance.

They are usually humble high achievers where the stakes are high, and the impact of their performance is significant on those around them. I am a member of the leading International High Performance Sports Network, that draws the best operators from the worldof high-performance sport, business and the US military to share ideas and lift global performance.

Rachel Vickery

My foray into high-performance and high-pressure environments started as an International Gymnast on the New Zealand National Team (World Championships and Commonwealth Games). The brutal training and competition environments taught me essential skills in emotional, mental and physical resilience and grit. I learned focus, discipline, the importance of teamwork and being able to control one’s state to execute when the stakes were high; and to understand the gifts behind failure and adversity.

I navigated the challenges to self-identity and purpose transitioning from an elite athlete to “civilian life” when from age 3 to 19 I’d never experienced anything different. My sports experiences and the challenges of adjusting to a new identity after retirement spurred my lifelong pursuit in high performance and optimising human excellence.

In the years and experiences since, I have learned that life factors and doing essential prevention and preparatory work away from the performance environment impacts performance in high-pressure scenarios far more than applying coping skills at that moment. Performance under pressure is less about what is done in the moment of pressure and more about everything that’s done in preparation for those moments.

I have learned that consistent, high performance under pressure came from working on becoming a better well-rounded human, rather than merely focusing on excellence in tactical or technical skills.

I have learnt there is a big difference between a reactive process of “fixing broken”; and intentionally setting people, culture and systems up for excellence and success.

I have repeatedly seen that organisations make significant performance and cultural gains when they are comfortable to “optimise the grey” – the area between traditional silos that is truly where the magic and intangibles lie for optimising human potential.

These are critical learnings and philosophies that underpin creating success and change for high performance organisations.

Results and Experience

In my high-performance role, I have worked with athletes and coaches in the NBA (Golden State Warriors USA), the NRL (Melbourne Storm and Sydney Roosters) and the AFL (Brisbane Lions and Adelaide Crows) and scores of National, Olympic and World Champion level athletes and coaches from NZ, Australia and the USA.

I have worked with CEOs and other executive leaders in the corporate space; medical specialists and barristers.

I have been engaged to work with one of Australia’s elite military units commencing mid-2021.

I regularly present at Conferences and Workshops in Australia, NZ and the US on high performance, performance under pressure, and/or performance breathing in athletic, medical and corporate arenas.

In 2020/21 I was co-reviewer and co-author for the Gymnastics New Zealand (GNZ) Whole of Sport Independent Review. The review was instigated following allegations of abuse and poor coaching practices in New Zealand, brought to the fore after global athlete awareness. A key part of the report required making critical recommendations for GNZ to implement in context with the broader NZ high-performance sport environment. The NZ panel was led by David Howman, former Head of the World Anti-Doping Agency and the full report is available here.

In late 2020 I was appointed to the Australian Federal Poice (AFP) Advisory Group for the SHIELD program. SHIELD is designed to advance operational performance and support for active and retired members of the AFP, their families and reservists through dedicated centres of excellence, education, prevention, performance, early intervention, treatment and transition support for both physical, mental and emotional performance. I have stepped down from this role due to conflict of interest in providing work in this space.

Performance Ambassador Arena Labs (USA) 2019.

Since 2018, I have consulted to a USA College Swim Program (University of Tennessee, including several Olympians). When I started, there was a toxic culture amongst the athletes, poor coach-athlete communication, eating disorders, and numbers of athletes suffered high anxiety to the point of a couple hospitalised for suicidal tendencies and attempts. This team failed to perform even close to their potential. By the end of the regular 2019/2020 season, the team culture was a complete turnaround, demonstrated in their results going unbeaten, including Conference Championships (first time since the mid-1970s) and was poised, pre-COVID cancellation, to challenge, to challenge Stanford University strongly for the NCAA title – a feat not done before.

I have always taken a preventative approach to address areas of need. I started a seminar series in 2008 called “Growing Up in Lycra” to address the increasing number of young female athletes I was seeing for anxiety, self-esteem and body image related performance issues. This program taught female athletes in “Lycra sports”, their coaches and parents to navigate the challenges involved in being a young athlete in a “lycra” sport, including anxiety, body image, self-esteem and self-worth, Coach-Athlete relationship and communication, menstrual cycle, and performance issues.

These seminars were picked up by Swimming Queensland in 2009, and I project managed the transformation of these seminars into an education DVD resource that was sent to all female athletes, parents and coaches State-wide. We created “Creating Champion Men” for Male Athletes. Both programs were taken up by Swimming Australia and made a National Resource. This concept has evolved and developed into a digital platform, Beyond the Black Line.

I was a Director on the Board of Swimming Queensland from 2017-2019, where I oversaw the Coach and Athlete Education and Development Programs.

I co-founded two Digital Health Companies (2010 and 2018) where I’ve helped organisations including government and private organisations use the economic and human resource benefits of digital technology in medicine to roll out education and prevention programs in highly scalable ways. I have learnt the challenges and importance of correct governance, capital raising, entrepreneurship and delivering 6 and 7 figure projects on tight budgets!

I originally qualified as a High-Performance Sports Physiotherapist in 1998 and completed my research-based Master of Health Science (1st class hons) in 2008. I accredited with both the NZ Academy of Sport and the College of NZ Sports Physiotherapists in 2001 before moving to Australia in 2003; where I completed my Australian Institute of Sport level 3 Sports Physio accreditation (highest level). I have studied, at Post Graduate level, Psychotherapy, Sports Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology. I worked and continue to work with multiple National Sports programs and athletes in NZ and Australia. I am regularly invited to present in Australia, New Zealand and the US in the area of my research around optimising breathing for enhanced performance in competitive athletes.

I still work one day a week in clinical practice as an independent consultant physiotherapist to maintain my clinical relevance, awareness of critical issues at the grass roots of elite performance and be pro-active rather than reactive in setting young people up for success. Clients are generally referred by Medical Specialists.

Sports-Related Experience

Consultant to Golden State Warriors (NBA) individuals; University of Tennessee (USA) Swim Program; Melbourne Storm (Australian National Rugby League); Roosters NRL team; Brisbane Lions and Adelaide Crows AFL (Australian Football League); Australian Swimming individuals; New South Wales (State) Swim Squad; Bike NZ; NZ Diving; Australian Representative Triathletes; Swimmers; Cyclists; Athletes.

Board Member Swimming Queensland (Australia; 2017-2019)

Judiciary Committee Queensland Baseball (2018-2020)

Advisor to Swimming Queensland Coach & Athlete Development programs (2017-current)

Advisory Board Member Fight4Balance – Modified boxing program for kids with learning, movement and behavior needs (2018-2019)

Accredited with Queensland Academy of Sport (previous)

New Zealand Triathlon Team Physio World Champs 2007

Australian Women’s Road Cycling (AIS Development team) Tour of New Zealand Physio 2008

Accredited Physiotherapist New Zealand Academy of Sport 2000-2003

One World Challenge – America’s Cup Yacht Race 2002

Waikato Chiefs (Super 12 and NPC) core strength and flexibility trainer 1999-2000

Additional Experience I Use to Get Results for Clients

6 years on the New Zealand International Gymnastics Team including World Championships (1991) and Commonwealth Games (1994) and New Zealand Gymnast of the Year (1993)

Course co-creator and co-lecturer Master’s Level Course at AUT University “Breathing, Performance & Rehabilitation (2009-2015) and guest lecturer on other University papers. (Auckland, New Zealand).

Regular presentations and workshops to professional coaches, athletes and health professionals on athlete performance issues, particularly around strategies to counter heightened arousal / sympathetic nervous system dominance eg World Golf Congress 2014.

Creator of “Growing Up In Lycra” – Athlete Wellbeing / Mind-Body Presentations and DVD resource for female athletes, parents and coaches. Disseminated Australia-wide.

Awarded Swimming Queensland “Excellence Award” (2013) – the first non-swimming individual to receive this award, for contributions to athlete welfare.

Co-Founder and partner Human Care Solutions (2018-2021) – Patient-centric Digital Health platform.

Co-Founder and partner of SHI Global Ltd (2010-2016) – innovative health IT platform cited by Ernst & Young as best globally in its niche. Divested shares in 2018.

Qualifications

Bachelor of Health Science (Physio) (AUT University, New Zealand) 1999

Post Graduate Diploma Sports Physiotherapy (AUG University, New Zealand) 2001

Master of Health Science (1st class hons) 2008 Research thesis “The Effect of Breathing Patterns Retraining on Performance in Competitive Cyclists”

Post Graduate Papers

2010

Mind-Body Healthcare (Psychotherapy)
AUT University, New Zealand

2002

Sports Biomechanics
(AUT University, New Zealand)

2006

Australian Sports Physiotherapy Level 3 Course
Australian Institute of Sport