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Paralympian Muffy Davis: Building Foundational Trust With Athletes

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Muffy Davis (@MuffyDavis) is a former paralympic champion in both the Winter and Summer Olympics. A skiing accident when she was sixteen years old left her paralyzed from the chest down. She won medals in both handcycling (2012 London Games) and skiing (1998 and 2002 games) and is also the first female paraplegic to climb a peak over 14,000 feet.

Davis acknowledges that building trust and connection with athletes is important for able-bodied and impaired athletes, but was particularly important for her as a physically impaired athlete learning new sports and skills unique to the Paralympics. In fact, Davis says that her success as a paralympian is owed to the trust she had in her coach, as this allowed her to follow the plan he set in place.

Without trust, she says, there is no gold medal for her, which is why she advises both coaches and athletes to build that foundational connection first. If athletes cannot count on the coach when situations get difficult, they will come up with their own plan that is most likely less effective.