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Wellbeing and connection the key to coaching success

04 October 2022

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has united with some of the nation’s leading Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games coaches to better support the modern coach and make Australia a world-leader in high performance coaching by Brisbane 2032.

Inaugural AIS Coach Summit in Alice Springs

Eleven coaches from as many sports, including Australian Diamonds netball coach Stacey Marinkovich, Swimming Australia head coach Rohan Taylor, Australian Kookaburras hockey coach Colin Batch and Para-Athletics coach Louise Sauvage, have spent the past nine months working together as part of the inaugural AIS Coach Summit Program, which culminated in a three-day event in Alice Springs at the weekend.

Acting AIS Director Matti Clements said: “The success of our green and gold decade leading to Brisbane 2032 depends on having a world-class coaching system, where coaches are supported both professionally and personally.

“The AIS Coach Summit Program is revolutionary as it unites our high performance system and enables our coaches to forge important relationships with their peers from other sports. It also allows our coaches a voice in determining what the future of coaching looks like. The sharing of experiences and learnings will only make Australian sport stronger and enable our coaches and athletes to reach their full potential.”

AIS Coach Summit at Anzac Hill, Alice Springs

The AIS Coach Summit Program has been facilitated by AIS High Performance Coach Development Advisor, Dr Paul Perkins, and AFL legend and England Rugby Head of High Performance Neil Craig, who identified more support was needed to address the unique demands and challenges high performance coaches face.

Diamonds Coach Stacey Marinkovich said: “These programs are critical because I think coaching is so holistic. There's always the technical tactical side of what you do and put on the field or on a court, but there’s also the wellbeing, the psychology and interacting with sports science.

“There's so many different elements and expectations and pressures that come with running an elite program. But this program really enables us to lift our heads and look to the future, not just in our own sport, but what we need to do to develop the future of coaching.”

Four time-Paralympian and Para-athletics Coach Louise Sauvage continued: “I think it's very important to have a balance not only for the athletes, but for the coaches. It's important to put that same importance on coach wellbeing and to know that they are being taken care of. We're so focussed all the time on the athletes and how they are going to perform, but we need to perform as well.

“Through the AIS Coach Summit, I’ve learnt so much from the other coaches and their experiences, how they handled different situations and how I can learn from them and integrate that into my programs.”

Members of the inaugural AIS Coach Summit in Alice Springs

The first face-to-face meeting of the AIS Coach Summit Program was held in Alice Springs, where the coaches were introduced to the culture of the Arrernte people, who have lived in Mparntwe for tens-of-thousands of years.

Following a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony, Arrernte Elder and artist Kumalie Kngwarraye Riley guided the coaches through yarning sessions, teaching the group about the power of the collective to build relationships and to preserve and pass on cultural knowledge.

Swimming Australia Head Coach Rohan Taylor said: “Working with the Indigenous culture in Alice Springs really brings home to me the importance of tradition and being custodians. For swimming, it’s our history and making sure we stay connected to our Dolphins history and to the athletes who have gone before.

It's about investing in what we know works in regards to development of our leaders. To be doing this now, we will see the fruits of that in Brisbane.”

Kookaburras Coach Colin Batch added: “Coaching is about connecting. And for Indigenous people, they've got this sense about connecting and storytelling that goes back thousands of years. So, they have these learnings through storytelling and we're just starting to use that more and more about telling stories as a way of getting your point across.

“This has been a very valuable program that the AIS has put in place and it also improves our support network. We could now ring up each other wherever we are travelling and catch-up in an informal way and maintain that connection.”

Following the success of the inaugural program, a second edition of the AIS Coach Summit Program was launched earlier this year, with the findings from the two groups to shape expanded AIS coach development programs and support services. For more information, please visit the AIS website here.

Inaugural AIS Coaching Summit Participants:

Colin Batch, Hockey
Tim Decker, Cycling
Myriam Fox, Canoe kayak slalom
Adrian Hinchcliffe, Diving 
Stacey Marinkovich, Netball
Peter McNeil, Mogul freestyle skiing
Alois Rosario, Para-table tennis
Louise Sauvage OAM, Para-athletics
Rohan Taylor, Swimming
Belinda Stowell, Sailing
Brad Tutton, Beach volleyball

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