Coaching & Officiating - Shane Pill
This is a Sport Australia podcast production.
Cam Tradell [00:00:07] Hello, and welcome to our coaching and officiating podcast series. My name is Cam Tradell and I'm the project lead for coaching officiating at Sport Australia. Over this series, we will look at what it takes to modernise Australia's coaching and officiating system. Each podcast, we will be joined by a special guest who will share experiences and practical tips on their topics. This week, we're joined by Shane Pill. It was a long and distinguished career as a physical education and science teacher, sport coach, and has worked on developing coaching resources for Cricket Australia, the National Rugby League, Tennis Australia, the AFL, Lacrosse Australia, the Australian Sports Commission and numerous state-based organisations. Shane, your resumé and wealth of experience speaks for itself, and it's great to have you with us to share your insights on coaching. Welcome.
Shane Pill [00:00:59] Thanks for having me. I'm looking forward to the conversation.
Cam Tradell [00:01:02] Shane, you've seen a lot in your role, but also being a sport coach, as well as working in the universities and working with a lot of research. And you see a lot and over time, you get to understand the trends and see how things have shifted from what we used to do to where we are today. We know that these are drop in fine motor or fundamental movement skills and so on, with participants coming through the system. Can you give us an insight through your experience or the research to what impact is that having on today's participants and athletes?
Shane Pill [00:01:35] Well, that's a very, very big area to unpack Cam and I'm a child of the 70s and 80s, and so I grew up with dad taking me to football clubs and having a kick with players before the game and after the game. And dad and mum were also played squash to socially keep fit. So, I grew up around squash courts and would have a hit with whoever was available to warm up with. So, I never had any formal squash coaching lessons but certainly had a hit. One of my most memorable experiences is Nikki Caldwell, Cardwell, who used to float around Alberton Squash Club because that was her home club, and she saw this 14-year-old floating around and 'onto the court fella" and having a hit with me for the practice. Mum played midweek ladies’ tennis and of course we would go there, and you'd have a hit, a tennis hit against the wall. Yeah, these are the opportunities that have disappeared because of the change in social circumstances around people's work lives and the amount of availability that they have, and perhaps some of the drift away from informal sport participation. Yeah, my father and all his friends played squash over summer to keep fit for football season, and that sort of thing wasn't uncommon. They didn't play squash to compete in squash. Football was their sport, but they all played squash because they wanted that fast acceleration training in the off season. Now, in the off season, they'll probably work with a sprint coach, or something defined like that, which of course has its benefits in developing an athletic model. We would come home from school, and we would be kicked out side and all the kids in the street would be kicking a football around playing cricket. We would just roam on our bikes for hours, and I've often had a conversation with mum, and she said, it used to scare her somewhat. But I would just disappear after breakfast and come back sometime in the afternoon for lunch and then disappear again. No mobile phones, no tracking devices. You couldn't go onto your phone and find out where your kids were. It was just a trust that are out there with other kids doing kid stuff. And of course, that's less likely to happen with kids of today, as well, so I've seen since the 1970s when I went to primary school into secondary school and to today, there's a lot less kids riding their bikes to school, walking to school. One of the biggest issues the schools have is how to manage the flow of four-wheel drives through the drop off. Not where can we put all the bikes that the kids are riding to school? Yeah, I went, I went to school, if you got there a little bit late you racking your bike two deep against the fence because all the bike racks were gone. But now you struggle to find bike racks at schools. There's a perception that it's more dangerous to ride your bike. But statistically, it's no more dangerous to ride your bike now than what it was 50 years ago. Of course, it's going to be more accidents because there's more people. Doesn't mean there's a statistically significant more chance of that happening. So there's a there's a general decline in the opportunity to take the skills that you're learning in physical education and apply them in your life, either through forced opportunity because a parent was kicking you outside or school teachers were walking around at recess and lunch and going, you've just been sitting down for a couple of hours in class. Get up and move around. Go grab a tennis ball, go grab a football. This socialisation of physical activity out of our daily lives has meant that we are, we are less movement competent than our great grandparent’s generation. And that's not me saying that that's what the data tells us, the data tells us, despite the fact that our physical education curriculum says to be a standard, you must have coordination and control of majority fundamental movement skills by the end of year four. But the research tells us that now the majority of kids in secondary school without coordination and control of those fundamental movement skills upon which the confidence to be physically active is built upon. So somehow, they're passing P.E without actually meeting the curriculum requirements, because when we talk to these kids and go, "What grades did you get in P.E? Well, I passed". How could, we don’t say this to the kids, obviously, but the thought process. You can't run, you can't throw it. You can't skip. You can't jump. How did you pass primary school P.E? So, we have a masking of the problem, if this was literacy and numeracy, this problem wouldn't be masked because there's a standardised test called NAPLAN. And one of the things that I had out in the media a couple of years ago was, I think we need to be mature enough to have the conversation that the things that are asses9.sed are the things that we value. And if we actually value developing the movement competency that gives people the confidence to pursue a life of physical activity, maybe we need a national movement skill competency assessment as part of NAPLAN, because that would that communicate to all, that we are serious about making sure that our population has the physical competency that ensures they have the feelings of self-efficacy that drive the choice to be physically active.
Cam Tradell [00:06:53] Having skill and activity does build confidence in other areas, not just in the in the physical, the attributes attached to a sport and a lot of that. I think the ripple effect benefits aren’t also being explored or recognised as well. So, I think there's a lot more than just the competence to be able to catch or play a sport. It's about being physically happy with how your body moves and being able to move. Is that a fair assessment?
Shane Pill [00:07:20] I think that's all wrapped up in your confidence to be selective in your choice to be physically active. And the other thing that those of us that grew up around sports clubs and played sport is the personal and social skills that are developed and also the I'll call it, Community Connections that are developed and the friends that are made for life where you you'll see someone 20 or 30 years later and there will be the water cooler moment. "Remember that mark? Remember that goal? Oh, remember that kick. Remember the day we did this? Remember that situation over there?" These humans are connected by their stories. The Monday Morning Stories and Sport provides those Monday morning stories in abundance, and that's why so many people follow sport. Because as a barracker of a sport team, did you see that goal? Did you see that kick? And there's a sense that we've shifted from being sport participants in the active sense to be sport participants in the observer sense to get the Monday morning stories. And I think if we're going to have a more active and therefore healthy Australia, we need to shift that back to those Monday morning stories coming from our participation. And I've talked about this in one of the blogs how as sports coaches and teachers are we creating the Monday morning story, the emotional connection to the activity, the goal, the kick, the mark, the tumble on the ground that creates the story to tell that you have the capacity to laugh at us because we laugh at ourselves because we tripped over in the moment in the game and got up, dusted off, had a bit of a laugh, got back on with the game again. The persistence, the resilience, the sense of optimism that comes from participating in sport when sport is in its best environment is the reason why sport has been so culturally valued in the first place. Yes, it provides a physical activity and therefore a potential health benefit, but it provides social emotional benefits as well, which is, I think, what you're alluding to say. Through sport, we find a valued connection to all of the things that make something worthwhile in a physical education sense. And that physical education sense is not just the psychomotor development, but the social emotional competencies, the cultural competencies that come from that development as well.
Cam Tradell [00:09:44] You touched then on that job or the role that teachers have, or physical education teachers have. What about coaches and officials? Knowing that they're saying not what they used to see come through? They're now seeing the breed that may be aren't as competent as they were before. What role can they play and how important do you see them being in creating this intrinsic motivation into activity in sport?
Shane Pill [00:10:06] Coaches are huge. Coaches are many kids first induction into a lovely phrase that you use being educated into sport and physical activity, and it's in those Auskick, T20 blast. I know don't if it's still called Netta Netball, whatever the program's called now in its latest iteration, that's the introduction to a lifetime potential of physical activity. And I think Auskick do it brilliantly. It's not parent on the sideline while coach looks after the kids, it’s the parent in there, being physically active with their kids, role modelling it, doing it with them and that's a powerful communication. You know, I’m here, I'm doing it role model for the kid, provide them with the aspiration through the inspiration of the parent giving it a go. And there's no coincidence that you're more likely as a child to grow into a physically active adult, if you've had parents who role model the importance of physical activity and encouraged physical activity with you and specific to sport, parents are the ones that initiate kids into sport. They make the decision to take them to whatever that sporting experience is. Some great work by Wendy Schiller, Phillip Derbyshire and I think it was Colin MacDougall nearly 20 years ago now, showed that young kids they're interest is in play exploring how their body moves and the capability of their bodies, and they get that cognitive as well as physical development by using movement to explore your environment in teams with others on your own. They just want to play. Sport is a social construction at play that the adults take them to because the adults are interested in the kids playing sport. And on your other point, you know, the coaches therefore capture that interest in play, foster that or not, that interest in play and therefore engage that physical activity, culture or through their practice can turn kids off physical activity culture. That's where coaches play such a vital role. They either capture, sustain and maintain that natural interest in getting my body to move and exploring how my body moves and being active. What does it feel like to be active? Or they shut that down. That's a pedagogical choice. That's a content choice. That's how you set up your environment. So, coaches are absolutely critical.
Cam Tradell [00:12:43] Do you have any sort of thoughts on how you build that value proposition for the parent to come out over the fence and come and get involved and how you sort of sell that to them or using a crude term? How do you sell that value to get the parents over the fence?
Shane Pill [00:12:58] I'll use a personal experience where I was coaching and under eight soccer team, and we started at 3.30ish and again it was majority mums doing the pickup from school escorting their kids over to the park. And the school rule was you couldn't drop and run, because the duty of care stayed with the parent. So, I went over to the parents and said, I've got five games of four on four going. I can only see one game at a time. All you have to do is spot good stuff and say, well done. Whatever you think, you spot good stuff and say, well done, that's good enough, just can I allocate you each to a game and get over there in the mum's went "oh yeah, we can do that". They got up and took the coffees, they are fantastic. And then a bit later on, I said to one of the mums who was a little bit more engaged and knew a bit more about football soccer because of her husband's involvement in it. I said, look, I've got this child who I reckon he's got an undiagnosed special need and he just doesn't know when to run, how to run. And the social engagement is not quite there. Can you shadow this child around this activity that we're going to do? "What do you mean by Shadow? Just move with them, encourage them, say now's the time to go”. That might not have been the best thing to say. Have a look over here now. Kick the ball there just to help with their decision making, as well as the initiation of being active to give them some eventual confidence. And we'll be out to wean that off. I'll said, "oh yeah, I think I can do that." And she got involved. Now, I have this endearing memory now of her, and I won't say the child's name, let’s call the child, Simon. Simon has kicked the ball and I'm at the end pretending to be goalkeeper, which is the end of the challenge and I'll let the ball go past me. And Simon turns to her with the arms in the air. She's lifted up the T-shirt like the soccer players and done the run towards the crowd because she's so pleased with what has happened. Fortunately it was, winter so there was clothing underneath, but you can. You can get what I mean. Where I'm going with this story is, often the parents are just looking for the invitation to be involved, and they're looking for a simple entry point in. And once you've got that simple entry point in, you can grow the capacity for them to be involved from there on. So, I encourage all coaches to see the parents as a resource. To hold a meeting at the start of the season to let them know what you're about, why you're about it and how you go about it and encourage that involvement and find moments to get the parents involved. Because as we've discussed, there's no more powerful role model for young people than their parents being physically active and physically active with them as well.
Cam Tradell [00:15:45] I'm going to fast forward now. We're going to go to 2032. We've got an Olympic Games here in Australia. If we intervene now knowing that there will be some athletes who are coming through young kids of today that have just seen the Olympics being shut down had one good thing. As we lived through COVID, we saw maybe a little bit more Olympics than what we may not have before. Do you think that there is an ability for us, if we change, we create these positive environments, these really fruitful sporting environments for these kids? Is there a chance that that we impact with 2032?
Shane Pill [00:16:19] Looks like I'll go backwards before we go forward. The reason why we have strong is such a strong emphasis on sport in physical education, and I'm not suggesting sport is physical education, but sport is an absolute necessary focus area in physical education. And one of the reasons we had the shift from marching drill, cadets, gymnastics, athletics focus in primary schools, was we won the Olympics in the 1950s, the Melbourne Olympics. So in order to make sure we weren't embarrassed as host country, we developed resources, teaching capacity, coaching capacity to upskill, so we could be highly competitive with the Olympics in our own country. My colleague Russell Brown has talked about that frequently from a sociological perspective. So, we've seen in the past that if we invest, we can make a difference, and sometimes what we need is this event where we're are on world display and we want to make sure we display ourselves well, that means the investment will be forthcoming. So, I think we have an opportunity, I think we have an opportunity to promote why we need it. And definitely, we know that the Australian Sports Commission now Sport Australia has been key to unlocking the potential for the development of the movement capacity of Australians. Since the 1970s and in my own teaching career in physical education, the big initiatives that have driven changes in physical education came from the Australian Sports Commission, who invested in the 1990s in the development of the game sense approach so that we had I play first model of sports coaching. That game sense approach is as relevant now as it has ever been. Despite the fact that it was trialed and released between 1994 and 2006, which makes it, what, twenty-one years old now? Most coaches would still consider it an innovation because it's not their common experience of coaching. So, returning to that game sense approach and its its message of play games, play games with purpose. Know, the educative intent of the game, but play games because that's what motivates. And that's what we're there to do to prepare people to be able to play the game successfully because if they feel success, they're more likely to turn up again. So, let's re-energize that that notion of the game sense approach, which still sits there on the Sport Australia website alongside the Physical Literacy Strategy, alongside the Playing for Life strategy as the pedagogical platform to bring those two elements to life. The Sports Commission invested in the sport education model, translation of Daryl Siedentop’s work into Australian curriculum, and that sport education model replicated all the best features of sport in physical education. So, the social constructs of sport was understood by young people, and I could find an entry point, if the entry point wasn't player. Maybe it was artist representing sport. Maybe it was publicist writing about sport. Maybe it was statistician, recording sport and providing the feedback for the awards and the festivity. Maybe it was as an administrator of the sport experience. And so, bringing those capabilities into the school curriculum so that people could then transfer those out into community. We know that Sport Australia, therefore is the critical player not just for sport, but for sport in physical education as well. Physical education looks to Sport Australia for the leadership, for the opportunity to fund initiatives that will drive better practice in physical education and if we get better practice in physical education, arguably we'll get better practice in community sport. Because often sport will go, oh, you're the P.E teacher, can you coach the under 13's team, oh, you're the P.E Teacher, I see you're the P.E teacher at Ascot Vale Primary School, can you coach these under eight Netball team? And so, you get the physical education teachers active in the sports clubs and then you connect the other coaches to what they're doing and eventually we start to upskill the system because I'm a firm believer, having done a coach development project in South Australia funded by the Office for Rec and Sport a couple of years ago. The single best investment that we can make to retain kids in sport, so we have more kids, more active, more often is to upskill the capacity of the sports coaches because the single biggest contributor to retention in community sport that the clubs can have an influence on is the quality of the coaching that the young people are experiencing.
Cam Tradell [00:21:35] Incredible Shane and there's a lot for us to think about and unpack this. I really appreciate your time this afternoon. Thanks very much for joining us.
Cam Tradell [00:21:45] Thank you for joining me today. If you'd like to find out more about coaching officiating or have any feedback or questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. My name is Cam Tradell, and I look forward to you joining me for the next podcast in the coaching officiating series.
Coaching & Officiating - Brad McGee
This is a Sport Australia podcast production.
Cam Tradell [00:00:04] This is a Sport Australia podcast production. Hello, and welcome to our coaching and officiating podcast series. My name is Cam Tradell and I'm the project lead for coaching officiating at Sport Australia. Over this series, we will look at what it takes to modernise Australia's coaching and officiating system. Each podcast, we will be joined by a special guest who will share experiences and practical tips on their topics.
Cam Tradell [00:00:35] Today, we are lucky enough to be joined by Brad McGee, a former Australian professional racing cyclist who has competed at four Olympic Games, as well as the coveted Tour de France. Bradley is an Olympic and Commonwealth champion across four Olympics. He has won one gold, one silver and three bronze medals. He's a five-time Commonwealth gold medalist and a member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. As a coach, he has been head coach of the New South Wales Institute of Sport from 2012 to 2020 and has also become the National Men's Road coach from 2013. Brad is passionate about enriching the Australian community through a strong international sporting presence. Brad, your résumé and experience speaks for itself, and we thank you for joining us tonight.
Brad McGee [00:01:22] Cam, my pleasure. I feel quite honored. I've listened to many of these and really appreciate them.
Cam Tradell [00:01:27] I really appreciate the support. You've had a career in cycling that sort of went to the heady heights, but it all started somewhere, and I'm really keen to understand where did it start? And do you remember when you fell in love with the sport, and do you remember who helped you?
Brad McGee [00:01:45] Oh, definitely. Memory lane is wonderful. It feels so long-ago Cam. It really does. Essentially, it all started at the Parramatta Cycling Club way back in the early 80s. Youngest of four boys. So, my oldest was doing a little bit of triathlon, wanted to be cycling, and so that meant we went off to the local cycling club, Parramatta Holroyd Cycling Club at the time. And it only transpired years later that my grandfather, who we're very close to my uncle, were big, big-time members of this club. But we knew nothing, nothing of this until years later. But I sort of fitted in with the what the feeling was when we went into this club. It felt like family almost immediately, just welcomed in. Everything was new and before you knew it, you know, my eldest brother and all the other brothers followed into the sport, and so did my father and my mum made a lot of sandwiches to feel it all really, but there was just a lovely club culture.
Cam Tradell [00:02:44] Do you remember your first coach and what they used to do to one either make you love the sport or question your love for the sport?
Brad McGee [00:02:51] Well, I need to put my old man John down as my first coach as he is, and I'll call it out. He might disagree with this one, but we're at Dubbo going to the Easter carnival. I went up there, didn't have a bike, but my brothers had all started the cycling thing. I was a soccer player Cam, loved it. And before you know it there's a competition for my age group. It must have been under 12s or under 10s or something and but didn't have a bike wasn't a problem because my brother Rod was in the race just before. So, the plan was that when he finished, I could jump straight on the bike, but things sort of turned around a little bit and technically I was a bit challenged because it meant that I was on the first race. My dad would stand about 50 meters after the finish line and catch me, we weren't allowed to do one lap wind down on this 400-metre flat track and my first coach, John my old man, is coaching with brilliant is like "Great race son. Get off" and here I am, going around in sneakers and stubby shorts and a hand-me-down Parramatta jersey with a number that basically wrapped around me twice. That was the start and that was punched on. It wasn't too long before I was coming through the ropes, and it was time to get a real coach early. And that was my dad making a decision because he couldn't keep up with me anymore at training. And so, coach John Beattie, dear old friend, God love him, rest in peace John. But JB was just a classic club coach, absolutely dedicated to the cause, and he was there to help anyone and then know as, he was there to help anyone in measured ways that were appropriate to that individual. So even as a 13, 14-year-old, I was allowed to go out in some of these rides, but there's no way I was allowed to have a training program. It was all measured and just, you know, just enough for you to keep getting better and no more. And so, my first program with JB wasn't until I was about 15 years of age, and there were probably three days of written training sessions on the program. A couple of free days, do what you want type thing. I love those days Cam, because I could go out and absolutely rip it to pieces. I wasn't, I didn't have to be so controlled. But again, J.B. and his measured appreciation of what each individual needed is what I like to think of. We talk about high performance. He was a high performing coach.
Cam Tradell [00:05:16] So he's servicing the motivation. So, could he tell the difference between someone who is motivated to go on and be the greatest rider they want to be? And then also, those other ones that, yeah, sure, they wanted to compete, but were never, ever going to ride for Australia. Could he differentiate between the two and sort of challenge them at different levels.
Brad McGee [00:05:34] Absolutely. That was the key. So, a lot of group riding and it wasn't just JB, if you had a Group ride as young kids, every one of your elders is like a coach looking at your peddle style, you know, your position on the bike, giving a little tips and feedback. And then JB could recognise and after reflecting back he could basically see the potential I had. He was training me towards bigger and better things where a lot of guys and girls in the club, they were happy to be club champions on the Saturday. I would have been too. I wasn't realising at the time, but he was training me for bigger things, constantly layering in that extra pressure, on the pedals, not pressure to win, but just always, you know, I just feel like every session was almost achievable if you just focused and put in. And there was a lot of there's a lot of lost lunches, sorry mum, some of those sandwiches went to waste. But I loved every minute of it. I was just challenged, suitably challenged right in that sweet spot.
Cam Tradell [00:06:30] Really interesting. You remember when it changed? Do you remember when you emerged on the stage and you actually started to set your eyes from not realising that you're just being challenged and getting there, to, actually, I think I can be good at this sport. Do you remember that little transition in your own mind?
Brad McGee [00:06:45] Oh, absolutely. I was beyond my miles. Very obvious. Essentially, I went through puberty quite late, like between 15 and 16, so it was between a state and a national championships that I went from an also ran kid that tried really hard and threw up off every race to a kid who tried really hard, threw up at every race and was winning them at a national level. It just come on in a flurry. And so, for me, I was just trying as hard as I could, whatever the challenge was in front of me. The only difference being now was, you know, with a bit of physicality that I was able to win by races. And that was like, oh, wow, this thing really works, you know? Suddenly, I wasn't thinking about being a soccer player anymore.
Cam Tradell [00:07:23] That's really interesting. So, you were coming in the middle of the pack, so to speak, but you've learnt the micro skills, you've learnt all the skills. So, when maturation took over, all of a sudden that's what elevated you to being an elite in the sport.
Brad McGee [00:07:37] Yeah, there was definitely no, I wasn't being lost and confused by any oh, you could win this, you win that idea at a young age, it was focused on your style and your breathing and aerodynamics. I'd come back from a race, and I remember announcing to my brothers and my old man, John, "I was spinning, dad I was spinning". You know, I must have just learnt that one the week before that spinning on the bike. That was a big, big sensation and win for that club race. And I guess that was the focus that John and the other members of the club were able to put on us. It was more around the technical skills and the acquisition and there were small wins all the way. The actual winning bike races, it was never the focus, it was so far from the focus. Yeah, sure, there was medals around and things like that, and that would be nice. There was a bit of prize money, maybe some flowers for mum, but it was the least thing on my mind up until actually I started winning and that almost came by surprise.
Cam Tradell [00:08:38] Incredible. And then you've got that next journey where it's not just winning the race, you're actually being the best in the world, you are sort of making that transition through that, which must be incremental. Now, other factors, other pressures start coming in. How did you navigate that and who helped you through that sort of transition phase?
Brad McGee [00:08:59] Yes, I guess that's when, you know, as a 16, 17-year-old, kind of knocking on the door of national team, the future national teams, this is a lot more people in the picture there. You go from your, your father, your brother's, club coach JB and a few other regulars at the club, to the junior Nationals coach Pete, there was a state coach Gary Sutton, there was national coach Charlie Walsh knocking on the door and wanting to have a conversation. And then, you know, there's a lot more influence. But for me that J.B. was there with me the whole way through and we, you know, I think he just installed in me just, you know, keep it simple, keep it specific, don't overdo it, was a big lesson. Kind of leave a little bit in the tank for tomorrow, and slow and steady was definitely the approach, and we were able to influence up with that. I remember my father specifically talking with Charlie Walsh, "don't burn him out, he doesn't need a lot". You know. And we were still quite fresh to the sport, we didn't know much about what was really needed, but we knew what was needed for myself. And so, I guess just maybe out of naivety, we were able to influence those other coaches that you start to be introduced to.
Cam Tradell [00:10:14] It's amazing, isn't it? The journey seems seamless. It seems accelerated through the fact that it wasn't actually winning and being the world champion. It was all actually driven by a love of the environment that the sport created for you.
Brad McGee [00:10:30] Oh, absolutely. And I just loved going fast on my bike, and I was absolutely obsessed with the processes around that. You know, the winning bit was almost symptomatic, I guess. You know, "oh yeah. and I won". But the self-assessment, even on a win where I could have gone a little bit faster? Could of I held my head down? Well, if I didn't push the heart rate up quite so early, I wouldn't have vomited before the finish line, I would have got an extra couple of seconds. Yeah, things like that. Really just, you know, just fascinated by all of those processes. The winning became nice, but it was a value add, I guess. I think I was just fortunate Cam that I didn't have that physical presence at a really young age. The winning part and the complexities that winning brings was kept from me for a number of years, I got those early years of development, coupled with JB's approach. I was just very fortunate. It's a difficult thing to sidestep. I know I've had young kids come through sports and how do you distance the win lose effects and focus on those early processes and celebrating those? It's really tough, tough measure. Again, it takes a high-performing coach at that level. I was completely committed and capable of the coaching and measured doses for appropriate ages and skill levels.
Cam Tradell [00:11:51] You've now done the full loop because now you're back coaching other people. How much of your coaching method is built from the experience of everything that happened to you and then you brought to life? And how much of it is yourself? How much of it do you bring out? And what are some of the philosophies you use in your coaching?
Brad McGee [00:12:09] Oh, definitely. If you talk about philosophies of carrying that, don't try to do it all today. You know, training, if you like what you're after, is that adaptation and adaptation just needs a measured dose of stimulus and recovery. And you've got to think in your cycles, you know, your micro to your macro cycles, but just enough to get that adaptation is what you're after and that takes some practice. But it's something I've really grown and formed into my coaching philosophy now and I'm early days in that coach development space now, and I'm intrigued by how many of our amazing coaches take on this as well. It's definitely present and we talk about success, but we talk about sustained success. This is why it’s heavily linked, going from a high performer to like a recidivist a high performer, that's what we're after, were trying to achieve mastery here. That's not just from a pop-up flash in the pan result, that's from years, if not a decade of continued success at the top end. So that measured dose is something I've really grown since working with JB all the way back in the early 80s, and I think some of the great coaches I've been exposed over years. Just had that in, you know, in your Gary Sutton's or, your Macca McKenzie's, they knew that that was super crucial and you're not really holding the athlete back, you’re just enabling the athlete to have an autonomous element into how much they actually do. It's not, I've got too, oh I get too. It’s a change in mindset but has a completely different result in the adaptation space.
Cam Tradell [00:13:48] I really like that intrinsic motivation to be there is that I'm doing it because I want to be here rather than it's a Tuesday and I have to go. You're right. It's a nuance, but it's a big one.
Brad McGee [00:13:58] Absolutely. It's just leaving that little bit out for the athlete to springboard off, I like to think of it. They take that leap of faith in knowing that there's support around and then they'd be maybe more than willing to push down on that springboard, which is the platform that you've built as the coach, and they'll jump into the darkness knowing that you're there to catch them on the other end. I look back to what would that look like in my days as an athlete? As a twenty-one-year-old under the Charlie Walsh regime, was a eleven months program given to you in a folder about that thick, and at every breakfast, lunch and dinner and training session for the next 11 months, fell out. And I took that on board, and said yep, but me being that egotistical little kid that I was, I was like, I'll do all that and I'll do mine as well. So, I'll put a few extra sessions in there and look on the Australian record as it was and things like that. I was nuts. But that was how much I believed in me that I needed to have, that I needed to have my own imprint on what I was doing.
Cam Tradell [00:14:57] To have your ownership to what you're doing and then see the value and I guess, allow your athlete to make some mistakes to learn from. To understand where the guidance comes from, how important do you think that is?
Brad McGee [00:15:08] What does it look like today, you know I’ve worked through the, you know, the professional ranks there with guys like your Richard Ports and your Michael Matthews and you know, Alberto Contador’s and in recent years before, you know what I'm doing now with the Australian women's team, the Amanda Spratts or Chloe Hosking, what they look like today? It's these athletes having their own confidence, their own circle of trust, their own support network, no matter what team or structure they're with. And I think these are key elements to enabling that athlete to have the feeling that they've got that autonomy in really dictating their career and their performances. I think once you get up into the big game, it grows beyond just you. You need that close circle of trusting supporters around you and that can be anyone. It could be more technical support side of things that could be just emotional. You know, there's many different shapes that that takes, but it's part of that autonomy that we need to bring in and enable in our athletes. And I've seen it time and time again in our top performers and how important that is.
Cam Tradell [00:16:21] Those interpersonal relationships become key. Sometimes an athlete or I mean, even at the club level, doesn't want to tell the coach something, but might tell the strapper something.
Brad McGee [00:16:31] I believe our coaches need their own small, I call it small because I think beyond two or three is probably starting to get a little bit to unravel a little bit. But having you know, your own team of confidants. It is a critical friend, mentor, coach, whatever you want to call it. Having your people, that you know that you can rely on no matter what organisation or jersey or colour you're sporting.
Cam Tradell [00:16:57] Do you feel that's important at all levels of coaching, knowing that they have other pressures? They got work. They've got other things. Do you see that as being a key component to coaching at all levels?
Brad McGee [00:17:06] Well, what it relates to I think, i think back to JB. Yeah, he was more than happy to hand over, if you like in star athlete to Gary Sutton or a Peter Day, knowing that you know he's impact, his time was done. You know, he's forever in my heart. I'm forever thankful to him and his family. But you know, the actual coaching space was probably only about two years, but I actually worked intently, with JB and then it was time to hand over in transition. And that at the time, reflecting back was an amazing feat. You know, it was at a time where coaches held on to their athletes, coaches held on to their knowledge. What we now recognise, you know, sharing knowledge is more powerful than holding knowledge, being able to transition athletes and being an active participant or be it at a lessening intensity, I guess as we transition our athlete through, we know that's important. You look at what our swimming teams just done in Tokyo and in getting that transition piece, right. It's absolutely key in performance. But JB back in the 80s, you know? He had that. I don't know where it came from, but he had that and that was. Imagine if they try to hold on to his young charge for an extra year or two and I faulted and didn't make that state team, didn't make this national team. Maybe the soccer pathway might have had to be put back on the agenda Cam, I'm not sure, I wouldn't have lasted longer. Both legs mate, I was going nowhere.
Cam Tradell [00:18:35] It's incredible because I think those communities of practice at all levels and you're right, the critical friend, the person, the mentor, the one to speak about other aspects of your life. But what's going right in this session? Because the external view to what's happening when, again, the old saying You're too close to the woods, the sea, the trees, sometimes they hear the conversation. What did I say then? What was the action? What was the reaction? And to have those people to provide that insight? That's key to learning and growing.
Brad McGee [00:19:06] And the beauty is, you know, Australian sports get so many opportunities of experience opportunities to reflect through and grow from. Now, I don't believe we have to create too many more learning experiences, reflect through them with your trusted team, personal team, and that's the growth and development, or a big part of it. It's, you know, and we can even go back in time and reflect through past experiences. But you've got to build up those trusting relationships for that to be effective.
Cam Tradell [00:19:35] Look, Brad, we've got some incredible insight today and agree 100 per cent. That's it sounds like your journey from the first time you've got on the bike to all the heady heights to now re-engaging back in the sport, you can still hear it. The passion for your sport through that experience that you lived through is clear. It's evident that this has impacted heavily on your life. Thanks so much for your time this afternoon.
Cam Tradell [00:20:06] Thank you for joining me today. If you'd like to find out more about coaching and officiating or have any feedback or questions, please email us at Workforce@sportaus.gov.au. My name is Cam Tradell and I look forward to you joining me for the next podcast in the coaching officiating series.
Coaching and Officiating - Jamie Pittman
This is a Sport Australia podcast production.
Narrator [00:00:03] This is a Sport Australia podcast production.
Cam Tradell [00:00:08] Hello and welcome to our Coaching and Officiating podcast series. My name is Cam Tradell and I’m the Project Lead for Coaching and Officiating at Sport Australia. Over this series, we will look at what it takes to modernise Australia's coaching and officiating system. Each podcast, we will be joined by a special guest who will share experiences and practical tips on their topics.
Today we are joined by Jamie Pittman, a former Australian indigenous middle weight boxer. He represented Australia at the Commonwealth Games and was the boxing captain at the2004 summer Olympic Games. Jamie finished his amateur career with a record of 187 fights, with 150 wins and 37 losses before turning pro the following year. Jamie then turned his passion for coaching and has been in a national development role for seven years and is currently the National Futures Coach, performance pathway lead for Boxing Australia. Jamie thanks for joining us today.
Jamie Pittman [00:01:13] Hey guys, how you going?
Cam Tradell [00:01:14] Hi Jamie, really interested in your journey. You’ve reached the heights of your sport of boxing and it’s an incredible journey that you’ve taken. Do you remember the very first starting point where you entered the sport? And do you remember how you felt when you walked into, you know., your first boxing gym? And then how did you actually come to feel like you belonged, and you were safe and that it was the place that you wanted to be? Have you got those memories?
Jamie Pittman [00:01:38] Yeah 100%, and I think about them most weeks to be honest. Because I always appreciate where I was and where I am now and it all started in Newcastle PCYC after I had a severe accident with my arm. I had about 70 odd stiches in my left arm and I walked into Newcastle PCYC, I remember my dad dropping me off there and he introduced me to a lady called Mrs Short, who was the head coach at Newcastle PCYC, and I remember walking in and there would have been about 50-60 kids around my age skipping and punching and sparring and I was thinking, oh my god, what have I walked into here. And it was only to strengthen up my arm, but I had this lady, Mrs Short “listen here petals, if you listen to what I tell you and you enjoy this environment, you could do anything in this sport”. And that always, you know, she’s a massive part of my life, but um, I fell in love. I had a massive crush on Mrs Short from a nine-year-old kid straight away because of the way she made me and everyone feel when we walked in the gym. Like she would all the athletes and kids that walked in the gym “how was your day”, like a parent, like parent would, like I do with my daughters, um “what did you do today” like to 50 or 60 kids. And you’d have to explain it, like ‘oh I did this” and if you didn’t answer, you’d be like, you haven’t answered me correctly, and she really cared about us, so yeah, it was, I’ll never forget that moment. I get goosebumps when I, when think about how I started boxing and that woman the way she treated me.
Cam Tradell [00:03:21] I love the fact that you spoke about, you fell in love with the coach rather than the sport first, and I think that really interesting is that over time I’m guessing you then entered in you love, you want to be there because it’s the way they made you feel. And then they enter you in the sport of boxing. Do you remember how that went and who helped you along the journey there?
Jamie Pittman [00:03:43] Yeah well, I actually did a, it would have been about a month after I started boxing we had an assignment come up at school and it was near the Olympic time and as all school do, we did an Olympics assignment. And it was about, all of a sudden, I was just writing down that I was going to go to the Olympic Games, for boxing, and id been in the gym a month. An n I remember it was the 1992 Olympics a I bought the assignment in to Mrs Short and I said “oh, I wanted to show you my assignment” and she almost cried because I mentioned her in it. “oh, Mrs Short is going to me to the Olympic games” and so forth, and all of a sudden, you know, she started to prepare me for a fight and all of a sudden I got registered and it was go time. I was ready to have my first fight about six months after being in the gym and I was very, very scared. I remember that, and intimidated, but she made us believe in ourselves that much that it didn’t matter if we didn’t win, like we just wanted to be there, you know. Life, life wasn’t the greatest for me with my family life so, that little space in that gym was my freedom and a place where I feel really safe, as much as you are getting punched in the head [laughs], it made me feel really safe and I wanted to be there all the time because that was my safe place. At school I’d be bullied at times because of the family drama and at home there was lots of domestic violence, so every afternoon when I walked into that gym from school I’d be like, oh this is home.
Cam Tradell [00:05:31] That’s ah, incredible because, they created this psychologically safe space for you, where you feel comfortable, you are able to express yourself and yore dealing with people you know will keep you safe, in a sport that you are going to be facing some physical adversary, let’s say. Creating that psychologically safe space is fantastic. How did you go about creating that safe space, the physical safe space? Do you remember some of the things the coaches did to help you protect yourself and look after you physically as well?
Jamie Pittman [00:06:03] Yeah, and she was strict on the fundamentals. So, I remember being spending at least a month, just in my stance moving up and down in the mirror and before I moved onto the next phase, which may have been throwing straight punches, but she was very, very technical on the defence and the fundamentals of boxing. So, I was blessed, and you know its something that I’ve tried to encourage coaches, you know, don’t just think that they know already, because they might not know. So, she made us, made the whole group and the whole team very clear that this is how you start the basic fundamentals of boxing. So, I was lucky enough, I had over 200 fights all up, 187 amateur fights and 25 pro fights and I can remember everything, so she did something right with my defence.
Cam Tradell [00:07:06] Its interesting, so you reach some heady heights and you’re fighting for a world title in a qualifier. You’ve done a lot in boxing and then you come back down and you’re coming back into sport as that coach who wants to bring through the next nine-and-a-half-year-old Jamie Pittman into the sport. Ca you tell me what was that transition like, as in going from being at the top of your game to then coming down to, right, now I want to sort of reset myself. What was your motivation there?
Jamie Pittman [00:07:35] My last fight in 2013, I performed quite well on Choc’s undercut, and I felt like it was one of my best performances, and people always say why did you retire after that fight, or transition to full time coaching after that fight? And it’s because I had that much competitive nature about myself, I was that competitive and passionate about the sport still that I didn’t, like I, the sport didn’t kill me before I built up that momentum and that passion. Like I’m still on a high, I’m still on a high now years later, like eight years later. Like I still have the fighter’s mentality as well, like I still get up and run every day, I still train before I train athletes, every day. So, I think I took the right steps at the right time. I still had passion, the sport didn’t burn me out. It wasn’t a low, I left on a high and that high has continued into my coaching and showed the passion and dedication I’ve got as a coach. But, yeah I just started with exactly the way I was taught from Mrs Short. To start with the fundamentals. Young kid walks in the gym, you teach them how to stand, what their guard is and then you tell them how to move up and back, and then you start to deliver some punches together. But you cannot skip those fundamentals otherwise it will show later on in their careers. So I was lucky enough that I boxed at the highest level. I wasn’t, I’m humble enough to say that it wasn’t at the world title standard, but I kept myself safe and I was competitive because of those fundamentals.
Cam Tradell [00:09:20] I think that’s key and core and you can tell it’s very important to you. With that in mind, as your developing people with different motivations right, because different people come to boxing with different motivations. Some want to be world champions and want to be world class, other just want to come in and learn to fight and be the best they can be. How do you face that? Are you a better coach for anyone in particular, or do you actually embrace anyone who wants to come and learn how to fight?
Jamie Pittman [00:09:46] Yeah, when I was a club coach I embraced everyone. My main focus was to teach them the art of coaching and to get them to learn what I knew. Like the, the whole thing on how to get yourself out of trouble in the ring, how to get yourself out of situations, because it could reflect back in life, in business or in school or anything. Not physically but mentally. How do I get myself out of this situation? I need to stay calm. So just teaching them the art of boxing, mentally and physically. You know, your going have your battles, up and down in life, but these are ways you will get you out of them, our get you out of this situation.
Cam Tradell [00:10:31] Its interesting to hear you say that. Sometimes you are asking your fighters to do some things that is counter intuitive to what they may actually see when they are actually fighting, they’re in the ring and you’ve got 45 seconds in between rounds to get a certain amount of information across that’s really clear. How important is that communication, being able to communicate clearly and simply and how do you see that link or that bond of trust between that fighter and coach go from having those clear communication lines?
Jamie Pittman [00:11:03] Yeah, it’s a great question. I mean communication is the key, because like I said, by the time you get back to the corner, its five seconds to get back to the corner, you’ve got another you know 45 before they start dinging the bell and you have to stand on their feet. So, you haven’t got too long, so it has to be short and sharp, very direct and honest. I’m always honest with my, with the athletes that I work with and the coaches that I work with as well, because they’ll find out if you’re lying or not pretty easy. So, if there not doing as you told, don’t say “oh good work” because they’re not, your just, you’re setting them up for failure. So having that relationship before the fight is very important of course. Which is why we try to build the relationships with all the athletes and the coaches before I take them to big events or I prepare them for big fights, because then, when they are sitting in the corner sometimes like a scared puppy dog, sometimes thinking help, then they’ll look in my eyes and I’ll say and I’ll say “everything’s ok, but you need to listen to me”. And as long as I am direct, and its almost like its half aggressive cause it’s an important moment and it’s a very competitive environment. So, you have to be very stern in what you tell them as well as having a calm nature about doing it. Its hard to nail as a coach, to be, to be an athlete coach like that, some people never nail it. Some coaches never nail it and some of them do it really well. And its an art to know when, when, the way you talk to athletes, especially in those, in the heat of the battle. I was always taught, understand the athlete as a person and you will understand them as an athlete. So certain fighters, if I’ve got ‘Joe’ for instance I may have to nurture him to give him some confidence, whare as I’ve got ‘Jack’ who’s a completely different person, where, ok I have to be direct with Jack. I really have to make him believe. So, and as I said, from when I first stater boxing that’s what Mrs Short did quite well. For me, I was different, I wouldn’t react to someone that was yelling at me aggressively. Because I had a different kind of past, I had a domestic violence past. So, I would close down. So, she knew already in her head, shed be “okay petals, you need to trust me on this for a minute”. Where she’d talk to other athletes different. It’s a tricky one to nail. You know, when you look at some great coaches, like Wayne Bennett, I mean Wayne Bennett nails it every single time.
Cam Tradell [00:14:00] Everything you talk about, is that everything goes back to your roots. Everything goes back to where you are from. And it becomes not just something you do, it’s about who you are as a person. And getting to know people, those interpersonal relationships, clearly have impacted you, from when you were coming through being mentored on your way up and then the way you repay it. You’ve started to play that role that Mrs Short played. Would you say that’s fair?
Jamie Pittman [00:14:25] Yeah, 100%. And I think in boxing in particular your personality comes out more than in any other sport, well in combat sports. Sorry. Most of the time the shy quiet kids, most of the time, but not all the time are usually the counter boxers, and the brash talking kid that talks a lot is going to be a bit flashy in the ring and the, you know, the one that reacts to everything is usually the aggressor, So, it’s a very personality sport, so most of the time when I bring athletes or, I’m with athletes in camps and I have spent the day with them, buy the end of the day I usually know, ok I think I know how to communicate with this athlete to get the best out of them.
Cam Tradell [00:15:08] I like the fact to that it’s not a cookie cutter approach, that it’s a personalised approach because to many times we coach to a formula rather than coaching to the person. In a sport where you can get hurt if you don’t listen, I think that key. Would you say that’s fair?
Jamie Pittman [00:15:24] Yeah 100% and it’s a very individual sport, because you’re going to have athletes that have got a bit of individual flare and style and you’re going to have athletes that are fairly standard and stick to the basic fundamentals, so its very individual. And that’s how you should set up your training environment as well. As much as you are in a team environment there’s certain ways you communicate with athletes in that group environment compared to other athletes in that environment.
Cam Tradell [00:15:52] If I asked a question and put you on the spot. Hate to do it to you mate, but I’ll put you on the spot and ask you. What would the two major headings that headline you as a coach, that said this is what you want to be known for? What do you think are the two keys to good coaching is?
Jamie Pittman [00:16:09] Good communication, understanding the athlete in front of you and understanding the environment that they are in. Whether its in a fight or in training environment and the sessions you’ve got.
Cam Tradell [00:16:18] Mate that’s brilliant. Jamie I really appreciate you joining us today. Thank you so much for your time.
Thank you for joining me today, if you'd like to find out more about coaching and officiating, or have any feedback or questions, please email us at email@example.com. My name is Cam Tradell and I look forward to you joining me for the next podcast in the Coaching and Officiating series.
Coaching and Officiating - Kate Jacewicz
Introduction Voice Over [00:00:03] This is a Sport Australia podcast production.
Cam Tradell [00:00:07] Hello, and welcome to our coaching and officiating podcast series. My name is Cam Tradell and I'm the project lead for coaching officiating at Sport Australia. Over this series, we will look at what it takes to modernise Australia's coaching and officiating system. Each podcast, we will be joined by a special guest who will share experiences and practical tips on their topics.
Cam Tradell [00:00:35] Today, we're joined by one of Australia's premier officials, Australian football referee Kate Jacewicz. Kate's refereeing journey commenced by chance one day when she was asked to pick up the whistle for a match that her brother was playing in. Prior to that event, Kate had been an avid football player. Since making her way into officiating, Kate has refereed at the highest levels, including Australia's W-League, the A-League, the FIFA World Cup and Olympics. Kate, thanks for joining us today.
Kate Jacewicz [00:01:05] Thank you for having me, Cam.
Cam Tradell [00:01:06] Can you just give us a bit of insight to what sports did you play, and then how did this journey start?
Kate Jacewicz [00:01:11] Well, I originally am from the Gold Coast in Queensland, and I was a swimmer to start with. My mum, obviously, being in Queensland wanted us to learn to swim and I had two young male friends, like family friends, and they both played football and anything that they did, I wanted to do, so I pestered mum to join a football team, the local football team, which is Mudgeeraba junior soccer club. That was my club for 15 or so years, and I remember my first game was for my brother, actually my younger brother, who's little miniroos roo ball referee never showed up at an away club and mum was like, "Oh Kate's here she can do it". So I got to run around for my first game, um, you know unpaid that type of thing because I was at another club, but I really, really loved it and I loved football, and I guess I loved reflecting back on it now, I guess what I really loved about it was the analytics of the game of football and, you know, being the decision making and the thinking around football like me as a 13 year old girl didn't understand that. But you know, retrospectively, now I can see what drew me to it and just remembering my thoughts around, you know, just being involved, seeing the game unfold around me, the emotions, you know, the excitement of the kids, you know, a game of football is like a really good TV drama, right? It's got everything and you get to experience the highs and lows of both teams. Yeah, that's me as a 30 something year old now being able to reflect on it, but as a 13-year-old kid, I just loved the game and loved being involved in it. So, mum took me to my first like level, like entry level referee course. She did it with me, and from there I just refereed every Saturday at my junior club. I was still playing at the time, so I refereed, I played, I coached until a certain point where, you know, people in football were all starting to make a name for myself, though, like, you know, you have to give up something. And I’m like "oh, I don't really want to". I definitely wasn't going to give up playing because that's my first love. And so, I gave up coaching to pursue refereeing, and that's when I got invited to state titles in Queensland. And then I got invited on to national titles and just the career snowballed from there.
Cam Tradell [00:03:51] That's a cool story. And you say you went from player, I'm guessing on Saturday and refereeing on Sunday, sort of thing. Is that right?
Kate Jacewicz [00:04:00] Yeah. Well, on the Gold Coast, I was playing in the women's competition on a Monday night, so the girls in women's played Monday nights while still playing with the boys up until I was 17 years of age. So, we got to play Friday nights and then Saturday mornings was my, Saturday and Sundays was when I was able to whistle in the junior competitions and then be an assistant referee in the in the men's senior competitions until I worked my way up until when I whistled in the senior men's competitions.
Cam Tradell [00:04:27] It's always an interesting mix, isn't it? Between you say your true love's playing and yet refereeing clearly is a love, but those two things sometimes don't go hand in hand is playing and refereeing. How do you find the importance of you understanding the game really well from the player's perspective and how that assists or helps your refereeing?
Kate Jacewicz [00:04:46] Yeah, I think, you know, I'm not saying that every referee needs to play the game, but I think it serves, you know, as an advantageous skill, I guess, you know, understanding the emotions of a player, the frustrations of a player, the ins and outs of the game, being a player and a player for so long, who played in the middle of the field, so the midfield. But the referee’s movement is quite similar as well to a midfielder. So you're able to you can read the play, you know, when the ball's going to go long, you know when there's a press you need to press, you know, when it generally nine times out of 10, when there's going to be a miss kick because just the way the player is facing, there is no way they're going to be able to play the ball where they want to play, so it certainly gives you a lot of insight into the into the game of football and into players behaviour, but also the way that they play the game. So, I'm really, really grateful that I'm able to bring those skills that I learnt as a player transfer into the skills, as a as a referee.
Cam Tradell [00:05:59] It's interesting you're talking about the emotions, and you talk about the highs and the lows when you hit the lows, how do you deal with that? Is it different from community to performance to how you would deal with it? Or is it the same process or how do you deal with it?
Kate Jacewicz [00:06:13] Certainly, I would say there is minute differences in in the way subtle differences that I would speak with a community player or a lower-level player versus, you know, the top players in the world, you know, playing for the national teams. But I think now I'm starting to find my feet at an international level, and my personality is starting to come out, so I'm very much a referee that likes to use my personality and I like to use a bit of humour, I like to build connections with players on the field. I feel that you know... when I mean build a connection, It's more like... I respect them. I respect them on a professional level, and I would never talk down to them. But certainly, if they're trying to talk down to me, I would then put them in their place and be like, "Hang on a minute, like, your behaviour or your tone right now is completely unacceptable or inappropriate would you speak this way to someone serving you coffee" or something like this? And you know, try to remind them of the human side of the referee. I very much take this approach in community football, or you know back in Australia, you know, trying to connect with players on a on a human level. But again, it's the same... I take the same approach and that is building the respect from a very simple level, I guess.
Cam Tradell [00:07:43] That rapport building can, I guess, help both the referee as well as the players to understand the nuances in the way that you let a game flow. Do you try to set the tone of the game, or do you let the players sort of set the tone of the game of, you know, the pace, the ferocity, or how do you sort of navigate through what sort of game is going to unfold in front of you?
Kate Jacewicz [00:08:04] Yeah, that's a good question. I 100 percent, let the players do that. It's their game. I'm just a part of it. And you know, it's, I don't want to impact negatively or influence the game any more than I need to. I'm there when I when I need to be and I'm not there when I don't need to be. I'm very much I work in the background. But in saying that, you know, when I'm communicating on a field and I'm communicating with my team, especially one of the techniques I try to use is I kind of speak like I'm speaking to everyone around me, but I'm actually directing the information to my team and being like, right, I'm looking here. Make sure you get the other, the reverse angle, like I'm going to be looking at the aerial challenge between these two players. And then those two players, when I say their names, they look at me and are like "right, she knows exactly what... they know exactly what I'm looking at and what I'm directing my team to be looking at as well. Like, alright, I'm expecting possible hands in the aerial challenge, like, you know, and then players throwing elbows and that type of thing. So, I do it in a way where I, yes, I am directing the game, but you know, it's almost like maximum benefit, minimal interference, I’ve just stolen that from, you know, VAR philosophy. But that's the way I try to operate as a as a referee as well. It's their game. I'm a part of it, but I'm certainly going to try to facilitate this match to the best of my ability so we can maximise the most out of this game
Cam Tradell [00:09:46] At the community level, a lot of the time there are people who are good enough to stick their hand in the air to help you on the side, how do you communicate to those people and make them feel like one -they're a part of what you're doing, but that they belong and they're important. You got any methods that you use?
Kate Jacewicz [00:10:02] Now as, I guess, an established referee. I do it this way back when, you know, 15, 10, 15 years ago, I probably didn't. Maybe I didn't have the confidence or the experience. But one thing that I would certainly suggest for you to try is communicate the same way you would communicate with a headset on. And I just amplify my voice the same way that we can talk to our team with you know the communication system. I still look at my team if I'm if I'm talking to them as well so we can use gestures and or body language facial gestures, and they can see that I'm looking at them. I mean, I remember distinctly one time the assistant referee couldn't hear me, but I could hear them, so then I was doing some gestures back to them to be like right " this is what I'm saying", type thing to acknowledge that. But in terms of the... like you said, the advice, I would amplify my voice and I would the same way I'd want the players around me to hear it. I just put what I want to communicate out into the world so that my assistant referees would hear me as well. Because, yeah, we're a part of the game and communication is vital, right? So, I would say that that's how I'd involve my team.
Cam Tradell [00:11:26] So it's like, you're talking to yourself, but talking out loud and talking to everyone. But is it what is actually going on in your mind? You just basically voicing what's happening in your head the whole time? So, does it sometimes come out like a little bit of commentating?
Kate Jacewicz [00:11:40] Yeah, we do have to describe what we see. And I've been fortunate enough, that's my style of refereeing anyway. So, the change hasn't really been too significant for me. If a player asked me, like, you know, what was that for? I'd be like, well, you know, it was, it was this for this, and they're like Oh, that's what you saw. I'm like, I'm just telling you what I see. I'm only calling what I'm seeing. I'm not a referee that would be like, you know. I'm not one that like kind of commentates and coaches the players like, don’t do this, don't do that, don't do this. And there are some referees that will, yeah, like it's almost like they're a coach out there being like, look easy, easy, hands down, hands down, like this type of thing. You know, players are players they'll either listen to you or they won’t. That's their choice. But you know, in terms of what information is critical that or like is, you know, advantageous, I guess, or is helpful. Yeah, that's the type of information that I like to provide. So, it almost is in a way, I am talking out loud, but it's information that is critical to, I guess, the management of the match.
Cam Tradell [00:12:53] Now that you're where you're at or whether you're a great community coach, do you have people that you call on to sort of ask advice or to give you feedback and so on? So, two parts, is, who's helped you get to where you are and then when you are refereeing at whatever level, have you got groups that you sort of lean on to ensure that you're doing a good job and to give you honest feedback?
Kate Jacewicz [00:13:16] Yeah. Well, in the beginning, a few names pop into my head. One is Allan Kibler, who was the referee’s manager in Queensland. He, I guess, found me at that state titles that I spoke to you about earlier. And then Barry Sutch is another one who is another Queensland referee manager and a few others that I'd like to kind of make note of and that is Gary Power, Jenny Bray, Steve Fenech all within the refereeing community down in New South Wales. And I mean, when I was coming through as a teenager and in my early 20s, I didn't really know the world of refereeing. And these are the people that, you know, lit the fire and said that, you know, the world is out there like it's the world game. You can travel to all these exotic destinations, whistling football all over the world. And, but I didn't really know what that meant until like, now I've lived the journey and I can see that I've got firsthand experience in that. So, it's nice that like I said, look back retrospectively and see what they were talking about and how it's come to life or come to fruition. And now ah... The people that I talk to the most are probably my peers, and I'm fortunate enough that I'm a FIFA referee and I'm on the World Cup candidate program and I've got access to, you know, some of the best referees from all over the world and refereeing at an elite level is quite a personal, a little bit isolating, but also it's a really unique experience that not a lot of people have that lived experience with. And what I mean by that is it's such an intricate, I guess, pathway and lived experience like what you... the emotions that you feel, the learnings that you take, the learnings that you not only take professionally but also personally. We all experience in some way shape or form very similar experiences, but are slightly different because we're all different people, but, and also from different cultures and different countries as well. So, I'm under no illusion that my journey is far more privileged than that, say someone coming from another country. But yeah, we all share this unique experience together and we have that like personal, firsthand insight into what it feels like to be an elite referee. So, I would say they're my peers that I've met along the way.
Cam Tradell [00:16:12] It's really interesting that you talk about, it's the same experience because once you're on the pitch, it's the same experience. However, where they've come from is the diversity that they bring. Does that help with regards to providing perspective on different ways that you can manage games, and have they helped you sort of hone your skills?
Kate Jacewicz [00:16:32] Oh, absolutely. So, for example, I was lucky enough to meet my hero in person, and that was Bibiana Steinhaus from Germany. You know, one of the first females in the world to get to the top in that in men's professional football. And I, you know, was totally, you know, fangirling at this point. But she is so humble and so kind that, you know, she didn't really care about that, and she just wanted to help. So, and she helped in her own way like I would never had the courage to be like, Hey, Bibi, you know, can you help me do this? It'd be like, we just be sitting together watching a game of football, and she'd be like, look, we could do this, this and this. We tried doing this this way, and you know, it'll work out much better for you. And I'm like, oh, wow, look, I'd never thought of it that way. So, yeah, definitely... Refereeing is about experience and learning from one another, and learning from others are either really, really good decisions, or you know others mistakes as well and sharing that insight and that's how we grow as individuals, that's how we grow the profession and that's how we grow the game. So yeah, that was, was a really cool experience and now I can, you know, just give her a text if I ever want some other little tips and advice.
Cam Tradell [00:18:10] It's amazing, isn't it, that you've got that, and if you think about your experience there the next generation coming through for you, the ones that are starting to develop here in Australia or elsewhere in the world, are you starting to find that they're starting to tap into you and your knowledge? Are you starting to have a bit more of a transitional point where you're mentoring others?
Kate Jacewicz [00:18:28] Yeah, I think so. And you know, it's almost like you don't realise it until you're there, you know, it's like, Oh, I'm in the process of, you know, the baton's been passed to me, but I'm probably the last to know and what I'm thinking just I’m entering into, you know, I guess, a general discussion or chit chat or conversation with another referee that I'm thinking is my peer actually turns around to be, you know, I'm I almost turn out to be that Bibiana Steinhaus for that young Kate Jack. And yeah, sometimes, I wish I kind of knew in the moment, I’m like, "Oh, maybe I should have taken that more seriously" or, you know, maybe, maybe I need to come up with some, you know, more meaningful stories for them or advice for them. But no, yeah, it's another learning experience for me, it's part of the journey. And, you know, I'm embracing that and really enjoying learning how to impart my knowledge in different ways to, like you said, the next gen.
Cam Tradell [00:19:38] It's interesting because sport changes so quickly. So, what sport looked like 20 years ago is very different now. So, I'm guessing that knowledge transfer becomes crucial as you're still an active referee, bringing through the next group who in 2032 with Olympic Games in Brisbane, that skill and knowledge transfer becomes key. What do you see for Australian referees in football? Is it an exciting future? Do you see good changes, or do you think we're going to need to do more work to develop high quality officials?
Kate Jacewicz [00:20:11] Yeah, that's an interesting question actually. Well, as you know, there's the 2023 Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand as well, coming up and what Australia has been good at previously is producing World Cup officials on limited resources. Yeah, like I mean, just to name a few we've got, Tammy Ogston, Jackie Hereford was an option, Allyson Flynn and Sarah Ho, not to mention then Mark Shields, Ben Williams and now Chris Beath. And they’re, you know, world class officials and, I would have to say, coming through the system, the resourcing and development of referees hasn't probably been where it could have been to possibly produce double or triple the amount of the names that I just that I just said. That doesn't mean that there hasn't been, but in terms of formalising and streamlining the development, I really believe that if we want the game to grow in Australia, that it needs to be a whole game approach and firstly, the recognition that match officials as a whole is ultimately almost like your third national team. And you know, we're a part of the national competitions, whether people like it or not, we're part of the game whether people like it or not. And if you want the game to grow and develop and reach its highest limits, you need the match official’s skills and abilities to match that as well, to grow with the game. If we're left behind, when you know people are going to be standing there going well, that same narrative and rhetoric of match officials are rubbish or this referee's decision cost the game, it's like, well actually can we, you know, actually look at what we've done for match officials in this country, and have we done enough for them? So, what I'd really like to see is building the referee program for football to be more in line with you know high performance in football as well, because referees and assistant referees we're athletes to, we're elite athletes as well, and we're competing on the world stage, the same as the Socceroos and the Matildas. And while it's going to take a while, I understand that with Sporting organisations now I work for one, I understand the, you know, the things that we have to do to build that, especially on a budget. I really do believe that that will take refereeing or officiating to the next level in Australia.
Cam Tradell [00:23:16] Yeah, that's fantastic. And let's face it, without officials, we don't have sport. Kate, I really appreciate your time this afternoon and thank you so much for joining us.
Cam Tradell [00:23:33] Thank you for joining me today. If you'd like to find out more about coaching officiating or have any feedback or questions, please email us at Workforce@sportaus.gov.au. My name is Cam Tradell and I look forward to you joining me for the next podcast in the coaching and officiating series.
Coaching and Officiating - Ben Sutton
Introduction Voice Over [00:00:03] This is a Sport Australia podcast production.
Cam Tradell [00:00:07] Hello and welcome to our coaching and officiating podcast series. My name is Cam Tradell and I’m the project lead for coaching officiating at Sport Australia. Over this series, we will look at what it takes to modernise Australia's coaching and officiating system. Each podcast, we will be joined by a special guest who will share experiences and practical tips on their topics. Today, I'm pleased to be joined by Ben Sutton, a football coach and former Pararoos player who played at the 2019 World Cup in Spain. Ben heads up the Paraoos Development Centre, which provides football development training to children and adults with cerebral palsy and acquired brain injuries. Ben has a passion for change and equality, and he got into coaching to create opportunities for children with cerebral palsy to play football. Ben, very pleased to speak with you, thanks for joining us.
Benny Sutton [00:01:04] Thank you very much.
Cam Tradell [00:01:06] Benny, I'm really interested in your journey. You've obviously done quite a lot in the game and played a lot of roles. I'm really interested in where did you start? What was your first experience in playing and who was really that person that supported you or gave you the love for the game?
Benny Sutton [00:01:23] I started when I was like four so that's when I decided to do it. And then the person who gave me the love for the game, was probably my father, because he was my first ever coach, and I remember one of the first ever memories that I have of playing, is of me in goal, then I got hit in the face with the ball. I saved it, but the ref and my dad counted that as a goal, and I was like, Oh no. But for all and all that's really helped with my cerebral palsy and, it kind of helped with all my balance and doing stuff that I... without even knowing, just going, and helping like balance there's movement, there's, like, also playing. It made me relationships I would've never had.
Cam Tradell [00:02:19] Yeah, that's interesting, so you found that as you were playing more and more, that the sport was actually helping you grow other, you know, physical attributes that you wouldn't have otherwise had?
Benny Sutton [00:02:31] Yep!
Cam Tradell [00:02:31] Yeah, that's great. And you're talking about the social, can you tell me a little bit about that. How does the social, do you remember early social interactions in sport?
Benny Sutton [00:02:39] My whole under-6s and under 7s teams were my school friends. And when we were in Under 6s, we lost every single game, except for one... And in under 7s, somehow, with that same team, we were undefeated a whole entire year, and I don't know how that happened, but it happened. And then we were in...., I was like 12, when I came into the Cerebral Palsy program and that changed my life forever, because when I brought that up until I went into Cerebral Palsy Alliance until I was about 7, and then I didn't really have that cerebral palsy, contacts centre or any friends, with the severity, so I couldn't really connect with anyone. So, but when I got there, it changed my whole life. I got to meet people from all parts - teachers, people in finance, people my age, so we got to talk about everything and now some of them are my team mates now. Most of them are my role models, even now being an older one in the program now, even the younger ones are my role models, and I think that if I can help you and that makes me so much better.
Cam Tradell [00:04:14] That's a great insight to the way that sports really embedded not just connections and friendships, but how to help support and grow people. And I'm wondering, you said your father was your first coach. Do you remember what made him a good coach for you?
Benny Sutton [00:04:29] He was patient. He didn't care if we did well, he was like even if you did a mistake he did not care. He knew that every time we were going to do something, we would get better and not to get frustrated. That's one of the main things, is I see coaches nowadays get so frustrated at kids going, "Oh my god, why can't you do this?" But I learnt from my dad and my mum that to be patient, and that they will get this eventually, it will take time, everything takes time and practice. If they want to get better, they will practice, so yeah.
Cam Tradell [00:05:14] So it's about creating that positive environment?
Benny Sutton [00:05:17] On field, I’m a very negative person, like to myself, I think I should be at this level at the highest level possible, and I should not make mistakes, because I'm representing my country and I should not do it, but that is the one mindset to have. But as a coach, I am the complete opposite. I'm going everything's fine, everything's positive... "Let's go", "let's do it again, don't be like me, be the best you can be".
Cam Tradell [00:05:51] I love that, Benny. And is it true, Benny, that your very first team you were involved in was more interested in holding hands than actually playing the sport?
Benny Sutton [00:05:59] Yes. So, my under six team we weren't really the best at football. We were more just all school friends, but we were all holding hands and that's where the patience from my dad, I applaud him for that. I would have been, what are you doing? why are you doing this? But he was like, Nah. But then he realised that, so he didn't put us together. Even so, we couldn’t hold hands. And I think that's where, when I went to Under 7s, that's why we did so well. I was patient and then we just went. We actually started to enjoy the team and went down, and we went home with our friends, like our closest friends, that we were holding hands with the year before you before we went "OK let's play now.”.
Cam Tradell [00:06:55] Clearly, that was a really positive experience for you because you stayed in the sport ever since. And you then have started to make representative teams. Can you tell us about when you first made the representative teams and what was the atmosphere? What was it like with your new coaches where you're coming into performance coaching? What was that like?
Benny Sutton [00:07:13] It was very interesting because I actually never had a proper, proper coach until I went into the reps’ teams. So, I always had my dad or schoolteacher or science teacher or whoever it was that was like, OK, let's do this. So, when I hit 12, I went into the New South Wales Cerebral Palsy program, but I didn't actually make the team until I was 17, so in 2010, where we went to Melbourne for the National Championship. And that's where the spirit of that helped me so much like just learning off. I had been with NSW players for five years, so I already knew them. But meeting the Victorians, the Western Australians, the South Australians, and everyone else turned out okay. That's where I need to be. And but the experience they gave me it wasn't all about football. It was about being a good person and like Football's a team sport. So how can I, how can I get from a team sport even into my work? How can I be a better person here and my work, and be a team player? And then in 2017... and in 2016, I got the call up for the national team and that's a whole different level. I thought NSW's camps were hard, and it went up a notch. So, in January 2017, I trained my butt off for like four weeks, and just went into the February camp and I was like "Oh my God!" "ok", apparently, I did well, which wasn't too bad, and then funnily enough, I got my first call up that year and I cried all the way home and then I told all my family. Mum actually organised a party without me knowing, like, at my house that even if I got dropped, she was like oh, everyone, I was like OK, so I went to that actually had 11 people from my family fly over to Argentina to watch me actually play. Which in CP Football we don't get many people. Now we're starting too, but in that time, that was unheard of. And like all the coaching staff loved it. I was like "oh my God, this is awesome" And then, yeah, but the levels of coaches now I have, so much better. So, we are allowed to go into Northwest Spirit, and we've been training with them for about three to four years. And having training with the Imperial Under 6 team and while all round helped us so much because we got faster and strong. And we have to react to it, and we thought that after I get behind them. So, we have to now even train harder.
Cam Tradell [00:11:00] So who were you playing for in Argentina the first time, and then who did you play against?
Benny Sutton [00:11:06] So we went to Argentina, we were playing for the Pararoos We played against the US, Ukraine, Portugal, Japan, Argentina, funny enough, and ... Northern Ireland.
Cam Tradell [00:11:29] Right! That's an incredible experience.
Benny Sutton [00:11:33] I would have never had gone to South America if it weren't for football.
Cam Tradell [00:11:37] Incredible. I also want to touch back on something you said before, and I think this is key and it's the impact that a coach can make if they make it more than about sport. I like what you said is that it wasn't just being about a good sportsperson, it's about being a good person. Can you tell me a little bit about what that means? What sort of things did you do to identify what you could do to be a better person?
Benny Sutton [00:12:01] I know its cliché, but it's treat the way you want to be treated. So, it was like, "OK if I say this to someone, do I want them to say it to me?" No. And how do I get the best out of my skill set to help the team, so at North Sydney, where I used to work, I basically went, OK, I'm very, I hate the shed being untidy and that was me. I was like OK, my job there, ok let's clean the shed. So maybe once every three weeks, I was like OK, this is my job, I can help the team if I can make someone's life a bit easier, I’ll do it. and that's where I kind of went, OK, like, I've done two and a half hours on Sunday, right? Anyway, clean the whole entire shed and then that make's someone else’s life better, and my life easier as well, so I can go bang, bang, bang, so everything works. And then someone else would do that for me and then we all do it for each other. And that the connection that I found at North Sydney, I always only ever had one job. Now I have two. But, at North Sydney, the culture there was so good, we all helped each other, and that's why we were all still so close with each other. Even if someone left, we would still contact them and invite them to everything that we would do.
Cam Tradell [00:13:46] That's a fantastic culture and I must admit, I've lived a little bit of it, and I'm interested in your coaching now, and I love the fact you say that you're a different coach than you are a player. I really like that is the fact that you are hard on yourself, but you want to create those positive environments for the for the new breed coming through. Can you tell us a little bit about what excites you about coaching the new breed? Who are they? What do you do for them?
Benny Sutton [00:14:12] So the new breed, I've actually tried to develop the Pararoos Development Centre, where basically the next generation to come through and take my spot and take all the spots of the current national team. But to have, basically because I didn't have that opportunity when I was younger and I was like, I want that. I want what I had, and I wanted to give it to them. And it’s all about, can I not Impact, but can I change something in them, to make them love to the sport? If I can make... it’s all about loving something, if you love something, you will continue to do it until you are 75 or however how old you are. But yeah, but as you know at North Sydney, we have a guy who's 75 and still playing because he loved the sport. I want that, I want to try and make them, the Under 10s go up and be him and play at 75. I want them playing some of the teams and they can play with me. But yeah, it’s all about just making sure one: They don't quit the sport or if they do, how can I help outside of that as well? How can I make sure that next time I don't make a mistake? For me, it's not everything, but it also impacts me. The way I make sure I've done my job correctly is at trials the next year, if everyone wants to come back then I’ve done my job. If one person doesn’t, I haven't done my job correctly.
Cam Tradell [00:16:14] Geez, you are hard on yourself, Benny.
Benny Sutton [00:16:16] I am. But you always have to be positive no matter what happens, even if they do the worst mistake of their life, put a positive spin on it. If they pass it across goal, and the other team intercepts and scores, then, that's fine. I'd say OK "what can you do different?" how can you do it differently? And then the next time, if they keep doing it, then you go OK, how can we do it differently? And then they'll think, they'll go "Oh I can play on the Goalkeeper, or I can play someone else" and you go, OK,
Cam Tradell [00:16:59] As long as they're learning, I guess, Benny, is that if the mistake is a learning opportunity, then it's not a lost opportunity. It sounds key and quarter to everything you do. The enjoyment factor must be high, too, like if you're putting the benchmark of everyone that's here this year needs to be here next year. You must really drive fun and engagement as being key drivers of your sessions.
Benny Sutton [00:17:22] Yeah. And like what I learnt from everyone I talked with and coached against and even played under was, it is all about fun. If it’s like I found that especially with my under 9 girls this year that I found the one game that they all loved - it was bullrush, they all loved bullrush, and I like perfect. I found a game, that I was like, if you do well lets go do bull rush then, and I'll tease it for like five minutes, and then they will all remember, they'd go "Ben, let’s play bull rush, let's play bull rush" and then I'm like OK play bull rush for five minutes, changes the whole day, and then they all switch on and focus and I can just go once I visit.
Cam Tradell [00:18:15] It's interesting because you've got a unique skill there where you're actually playing to their motivations, in your coaching, to the motivations of the athletes or the participants in your team to ensure that they're not just learning how to play the sport, they're not just learning how to be part of a team, they're also learning that they've got some say over what happens in your session. And I think that's great that buy in that you get is that a sort of strategy of yours?
Benny Sutton [00:18:43] Yes. Master strategy of mine. Because I find that one, even when you learn to play, everyone wanted too, and if I could, I would just want to play games the whole time. But as a player, I would be like "Can we play? because that was so much fun. And then now as a coach I can go, "OK let’s play", but then I can add some rules into it so it's kind of like you're learning more about learning and all of that cognitive learning and going, OK, can I have fun? But also, oh, okay, I'm doing this well, and then you point out what we did well, and then you point out that one thing that they didn't do well and then we go from there.
Cam Tradell [00:19:30] So creating constraints on, on what you what you're providing to people in a fun way, highlighting all the positives. And then let's work on the one thing that you want to get better at. Is that planned before the session? Or do you wait to see what's in front of you and then make decisions as you're coaching, which is real coaching right?
Benny Sutton [00:19:53] A bit of both. I try to plan what I'm going to do, but if that doesn't work, you always have to adapt. Even like the size of a session, if it’s too big and it’s too easy for them, you have to make it smaller but even if anything doesn't work, you cut them into a team and go Okay, I'll just change the roles off the top of my head and then that would be that.
Cam Tradell [00:20:22] Your adaptability there, I like that is the fact that you create the constraint based on what you're seeing, but you wait to see what you see from your players and what they can do, what they can't do and what they need to do. And then you adapt your session to get the best outcome from the players. And then you add in another layer, if we get all this work done, we can also play the game you want to play.
Benny Sutton [00:20:46] Yeah, but it also, everyone has different situations as well. Like I might have a bad day at work. And then I go to training and sometimes I don't want to be there. But it’s the same with kids, they might have a bad day at school, something might have happened at school. Something might have happened at home that we might not know about. And then you find out, and then you go "OK, let's make it more fun, let's make it more fun now, let’s make it easier," and they go OK, cool. And then if you have more than one session, you can go OK, let’s make that day harder. Let's make this one more fun.
Cam Tradell [00:21:30] Benny, I really like that because one that's how you intrinsically motivate people to love sport is that it becomes what it's designed to do. And that is, yes, be competitive. But two, fun to turn up and engage in, we've grabbed a lot to learn from you today Benny, that was fantastic. Really appreciate you joining us this afternoon. It's an incredible insight for us all to take away. Thanks so much for your time mate.
Benny Sutton [00:21:56] Thank you very much for having me.
Cam Tradell [00:22:00] Thank you for joining me today. If you'd like to find out more about coaching officiating or have any feedback or questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. My name is Cam Tradell and I look forward to you joining me for the next podcast in the coaching and officiating series.
Coaching and Officiating - Mel Perrine & Bobbie Kelly
Introduction Voice Over [00:00:03] This is a Sport Australia podcast production.
Cameron Tradell [00:00:07] Hello, and welcome to our coaching and officiating podcast series. My name is Cam Tradell, and I am the project lead for coaching officiating at Sport Australia. Over this series, we will look at what it takes to modernise Australia's coaching and officiating system. Each podcast, we will be joined by a special guest who will share experiences and practical tips on their topics.
Cameron Tradell [00:00:34] Today, I'm pleased to be joined by two individuals with a truly unique story to tell. Mel Perrine, who is a B2 classified, visually impaired para-alpine snow sport athlete, and Bobbi Kelly, who has been Mel's site guide since 2019 and a coach at her local club in Perisher. Mel and Bobbi have a great partnership that saw Mel win a gold and silver medal at the women's super-combined, visually impaired 2019 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships. Both are hoping Mel will make it to a fourth Winter Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2022. Mel and Bobbi welcome and thanks for joining us. I want to take you back to the beginning, Mel, I'm really keen to know where did it all start? Where did your love for racing come from and who got you in, who got you hooked and what were your motivations?
Mel Perrine [00:01:30] I guess my love of racing originally came from a development ski camp that I went on after I finished high school. I didn't want to go into uni straight away, and I just wanted to learn more about skiing. I think at that point in time, I was just a recreational athlete, so I went over to Canada for two months and I had a development coach over there who basically showed me the ropes in ski racing, gave me a bunch of technical and tactical information, and I just fell in love with the highly competitive nature of it. I've always been an athlete and it was just something that felt super natural to me. I love speed, I love competition and skiing and always been a massive part of my life all through my teen years. And this was just it was like an avenue to a way that I could continue exploring that. And I just loved it from the first from the first time I was in a racecourse, it was just awesome. I loved every second of it came back to Australia, eventually I went away to uni and then I think in 2009, after another year at the development camp, the same one, I was put in touch with the Australian head coach. He watched me ski and then invited me to join the national team.
Cameron Tradell [00:02:45] Do you remember the environment, do you remember what traits those coaches had back on the day, how they created the right environment for you?
Mel Perrine [00:02:52] I think the great thing about that development camp was it was everybody was a development athlete. So, the information about ski racing and about technical ability and what we needed to work on from ski tuning, boot, like everything was spoon fed to us in a really clear and direct way. Like we knew exactly what was going on, and also the coach was super supportive of our journeys and that the fact that some of us didn't know as much as each other and he was so approachable and really open to that sort of level of communication and then moving into the national team, that early coaching was a little bit different, but it was still recognised that I was a young athlete and so things were kind of given to me at kind of a little bit of a different level than a lot of the other athletes. But again, it was a massive supportive environment from the coaches that were really pushing me to learn that because they actually cared about my development as an athlete and the fact that they wanted to be to be safe and perform really well on a ski hill. And I think that really helped me stay in the sport as a young athlete.
Cameron Tradell [00:03:59] You've got a unique relationship, especially with Bobbi, who joins us as well. And Bobbi, you're a coach in your own right. You work as the guide for Mel on the slopes and in performance. How did you get into this role? What was your entry into being drawn to play in this role?
Bobbi Kelly [00:04:18] I grew up skiing in Perisher, so both my parents worked for the ski resort that allowed me and my siblings to grow up skiing and having fun along the mountain. That led me to start ski racing myself. I competed till I was around 19/20, and because I love the sport so much, I just started coaching and just at a local club and a good friend of mine, Christian Geiger, who was Mel's old guide and coach for the team, asked me a couple times to guide Mel. However, I wasn't really... It wasn't the right timing for me because I was focusing so much on my coaching. But after the Pyeongchang Games, I decided it was a good time for me to start skiing with Mel and I've been skiing with Mel and coaching part time ever since.
Cameron Tradell [00:05:08] The relationship that you've got in the way that you compete together is quite unique. You seem in sync. You seem very, very connected. Your communication is incredible, and I guess it's got to be knowing the nature of the sport. I'm keen to understand potentially, Mel, where did that start from? How did you start to build the relationship with Bobbi so that you could start to get so in tune with each other and understand how best to work together?
Mel Perrine [00:05:34] I think Bobbi and I really got along quite well right from the start, actually. Bobs was a little bit nervous the first time we met, the first time she skated in front of me to the point where I think I was back in in ski school as a 13-year-old. I know we quickly... it was really, it was a very open conversation, very quickly about what I could and couldn't do. And I think that it's kind of set the tone for our entire ski partnership where we're both incredibly open. We're both incredibly honest with each other all the time. And just outside of skiing, like, we found out pretty quickly that we were, you know, we're on the same wavelength with a lot of things, but I think our core values are very similar. So, we laugh a lot together. We have a lot of fun together off the mountain. You know, we're always chatting even when it's not ski season. So, I think the fact that we get on and that we share those core values and we set the tone right from the start that like open communication was going to be our thing. That pretty much kick started an awesome partnership, and we've just built on that the longer we spent together.
Cameron Tradell [00:06:45] Bobbi, from your perspective, the role that you play is guide. But is there much coaching that goes on between the two of you on how you can both work together? So, what's the feedback mechanism that you give to each other to optimise what you're doing? So, you can both play the role that you're playing so you can be as fast as you can in competition?
Bobbi Kelly [00:07:03] So obviously, we have the coach’s feedback, however we do talk a lot, obviously all the time to each other, we're always giving each other feedback, always learning off each other. Yeah, it's just constant chatting between each other, talking, trying to figure out things ourselves a lot of the time. Like, obviously, the coaches can't hear what we're saying all the time. So, it's just that constant feedback; trying what works and what doesn't work. And, we just started journaling, sometimes writing what works for us and what doesn't. So, we just keep it as consistent as possible.
Cameron Tradell [00:07:38] When you talk about the coaches that come over the top, you've got these problems that you're trying to solve and the problem can be, we want to learn how to communicate better, we want to learn and how we can get our technique in sync around certain areas. What are some of the safe environments that you create with other coaches to then problem solve with you? What does that look like and who tends to facilitate that?
Bobbi Kelly [00:08:01] I think it's a bit of both. We're very lucky and fortunate in the way in the sense that we have a very good relationship with our coaches where we're both very open with each other and sometimes the coaches will bring something up that we need to work on. Or sometimes it's the other way around, and we're happy to sometimes say, "Oh no we think differently”, and sometimes they may say the same. It's a lot of problem-solving like Mel said and it does come from not just the coaches and us. It can sometimes come from the athlete. We have family video sessions where we sit with the whole team, and we discuss each other's skiing and brainstorm together. So, it's a very like we're all learning together. We're trying to figure out something together, more so than just one side.
Cameron Tradell [00:08:47] How does that work for you, Mel? When you've got these people, all problem solving together with you and then you're optimising, is there a feedback loop when you do come up with a plan and then you go back to the group to say, we try these five things that we sort of agreed on didn't quite work for us, or these three things worked really well. Can you think of an example where that's come to life for you?
Mel Perrine [00:09:10] A lot of our problem solving is done not only in that the athlete-to-athlete kind of communications space, but also the athlete to coach communications space and a lot of the feedback loop that you just described in terms of communicating back as to what worked and what didn't, I think, happens differently for both of those groups. So, with our coaches, it's more of a formal after every run or after every two to three runs. But it's like, "listen, we try that stuff that we talked about in video, this worked and that didn't work". And then we also discuss the language that we use as well. So, you know, a coach might give a cue to me about a certain body position or what like what in skiing. A specific example was he wanted me to like round my shoulders out a bit more rather than opening up my chest constantly. And to me, that didn't make sense in my body. So, I was just like, OK, well, I think of it like this, and for me it’s like pulling like pulling my diaphragm up, which kind of creates a bit more tension through my core, and that's just how it made sense to my brain. And now the communication loop is he uses the same language that I communicated to him that he gives back to me to make sure that we're always on the same page with our language, which makes a really consistent level kind of communication board. And that's just like one specific example, but that applies in a lot of our conversations, whether it's tactical or technical, like our coaches are always interested in the language that Bobbi and I use when we talk to each other so that they can communicate. They can give us instruction that makes sense in that space that we've already created, so we tell them what works in our partnership and then they try and communicate on the same level. So that's a very formal and then informal, it's more informal with other athletes, other athletes who are just like, oh yeah, that thing worked really cool might work really well. Or, you know, we try that. And gosh, that run was totally crappy sort of thing. So that's a little bit less formal, but we can all see what everyone's working on, and it's the athletes because they're outside that super level communication kind of field that the coaches and us maintain they can sometimes see or throw a different word in or throw a different perspective in that changes the perceptive for everyone, which can, you know, help us overcome plateaus.
Cameron Tradell [00:11:37] The coach’s ability to adapt the way they communicate is key to this clearly, because you both are obviously very clear on what you communicate and how you communicate. I'm interested in Bobbi as the guy you're going down the hill. These are starting to go wrong. What happens in your mind with regards to something's? Not quite there? How do you maintain your level of clear communication? Because that's key, right? What are the processes you go through to maintain your, your head and mind space?
Bobbi Kelly [00:12:07] Describing guiding to people? It's almost like you're juggling a ball and then people are throwing all these questions. One person's asking you a mathematical question, one person's asking you a science question, and you have to keep juggling the balls as perfectly as possible, and you have to just stay focused and still do the job at hand. So, I originally was very overwhelmed by this because Mel's this amazing athlete who have so much respect for, I never really wanted to let her down or screw up. However, I think over this period of skiing with Mel, we figured out what works best for us as a team. And that's something that just, I guess, has come with time. Every guide and athlete will work differently. That's part of a journey as a team. I tend to take on information and I guess even say information a lot more simply than what Mel does. Mel takes on a lot of information, and she can describe things very elegantly, and I'm just really basic. So, I guess something that's really worked for us is Mel does a lot, she counts and she relays information when we inspect and then when we run to the courses and I kind of say, what's happening in front of me and kind of react to things very clear and as simply as possible, really. And that's something that I guess I've had to work on as well, for Mel, her senses are quite heightened. So that means when I speak, I have to try and keep the same tone. I don't want to raise my voice too loud if something's about like something that's happened, that was unexpected. I try and just keep my cool and just try and focus on the task at hand and say it as simply as possible. There's no real time to muck around, really, so I just try and stay focused.
Cameron Tradell [00:14:11] It's a unique skill in its own because you're also skiing yourself and you're giving that guide and then you've got, as you say, an incredible athlete in Mel who not much she can't do on the slopes. So, I'm interested in that in the do you do coaching independently of each other, like when you go and work on different things? And what does that look like? What would you work on Mel away from Bobbi? What are some of the things that you would do with other coaches without Bobbi being there? And part two of that is what's it like when you then come back together, and you've got some slightly new nuances or you got some differences? How do you integrate that into what you do?
Mel Perrine [00:14:49] So I think the fun thing is with being visually impaired is I could never go away from Bobbi. I need her. But we have started to figure out a way that we can actually do that because sometimes you just can't focus on your own skiing if you've got either someone in front of you or someone behind you. So, we do this thing when we're struggling with new drills or a concept that we're just not clicking into, we do this thing called leapfrogging. So sometimes I'll stay in one spot and Bobbi will ski away until the end of our comms system range. And then but then she’ll give me information about the slope in front of me and where she's going and point me exactly where the fall line is. And because she's giving me that information, I can then ski towards her with her guiding me vocally but not having her in front of me. And that will then allow me to work on whatever I'm working on and Bobbi to work whatever she's working on without having to worry about each other. But that's about as far away from each other as we ever get.
Cameron Tradell [00:15:46] Bobbi, if you're working on a new skill or you're working on things that are going to enhance you from a guide perspective. Do you do everything with Mel when you're trying out new things, or do you practise some things externally and then try and optimise?
Bobbi Kelly [00:15:59] I'm fortunate enough that I work at a ski resort, I'm always on the snow. I like I live on the snow, so I'm constantly testing out new things and skiing is whenever I can. I am lucky I do go out and just work on things when I can. However, if it's a training day and I just I need to work on something, and I’m not getting it, I sometimes I just have to go "Mel I'm sorry, can you just like, have a break? And I just need to figure it out these skis. I just need a couple of runs just to get going or something” it’s definitely not, I'm not as young as what I used to be, and I just need a few runs to get me sorted
Cameron Tradell [00:16:39] As you move forward. What's the next piece for you? How do you keep striving to be better? Do you put plans in place, like you said about the process to getting better and optimising what you do? Or is it about "we just set our sights on a tournament to win or something to win"? Or have you got really clear goals on what it takes to be better?
Mel Perrine [00:16:59] I think the one thing that's really held true across my entire career is that the process has always been more important to me, and I'm so lucky that Bobbi also thinks that same sort of way. So, I strive to be the absolute best, most competent, most technically efficient skier that I can be, and I do as much as I possibly can, both on snow and off snow to just be a better skier. And I think my first guide... it was my first guide, Andrew said. He's like, you focus on the process and the results will take care of themselves. It's the process that matters. So, we've got all these big massive competitions coming up, but I'm super excited to get over to the northern hemisphere and train because I think by training, I'm going to get to, Bobbi and I are going to be a better partnership where I'm going to be a better skier. And that's just going to lead to a whole bunch of fun and some cool results like, that's what really matters to me.
Cameron Tradell [00:17:58] Bobbi, is it fair to say fun is the core of everything you're doing? Yes, competition winning is important, but realistically, it sounds like fun is a core component of this.
Bobbi Kelly [00:18:06] Absolutely. I honestly couldn't think of anything better. I'm skiing with my best friend in the mountains. You know, like every day is just so much fun. And I think Mel hit the nail on the head there with the process I think that's probably one of the things we're best at in terms of our communication. I would say they're really good at just trusting the process, and I know that sounds really lame when you hear it all the time, but we just focus on one run and then two runs. I'm just exactly like day one of training. That's all I'm thinking about, leading to the next to the northern hemisphere and just being extraordinary at the ordinary. I think we're both really good at doing this, chatting through it.
Cameron Tradell [00:18:51] I think that's key and core to everyone is the fact that having fun is really important. Understanding the process and the results will come. I think that that is a great philosophy to, to sort of hang true to. How important is it for you to maintain and keep the same communication that you've had that's got you to where you are today?
Mel Perrine [00:19:10] I think we feel such a great foundation that I don't want to change our communication style. I trust Bobbi with my life and to change any part of that, that relationship would be to, you know, undermine that trust. Bobs has ever since we started getting together, she's been awesome at just trying to make sure not only that I'm always safe, but they were always striving for a high level of performance. And I think both those things matter equally to me. So, I said, I don't really want to change our communication style, because it would change the trust level, and I already trust her with absolutely everything.
Cameron Tradell [00:19:48] Mel and Bobbi thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us this afternoon. Incredible insight and a lot to take away for coaches and athletes alike with regards to keeping open communication lines there for people to understand, to learn and to grow together. Thanks again. Thank you for joining me today. If you'd like to find out more about coaching officiating or have any feedback or questions, please email us at Workforce@sportaus.gov.au. My name is Cam Traddell and I look forward to you joining me for the next podcast in the coaching and officiating series.
Coaching and Officiating - Greg Chappell
Narrator [00:00:03] This is a Sport Australia podcast production.
Cam Tradell [00:00:08] Hello and welcome to our Coaching and Oficiating podcast series. My name is Cam Tradell and I'm the Project Lead for Coaching and Officiating at Sport Australia. Over this series. We will look at what it takes to modernise Australia's coaching and officiating system. Each podcast, we will be joined by a special guest who will share experiences and practical tips on their topics. We'd like to welcome Greg Chappell to be with us today, Greg provides a multifaceted view of sport. Having been a player at the international level, he worked as a selector for the National and Queensland teams, a member of the Australian Cricket Board, a coach. He's worked as a full time commentator. And he was also with the Indian Cricket team for two years as he filled in as the national coach. Welcome, Greg. Thanks very much for joining us.
Greg Chappell [00:01:00] Thanks, Cam. Nice to be with you.
Cam Tradell [00:01:01] Greg, you've had a lot of experience with regards to what coaching has looked like from the coach's point of view, but also from the players perspective and over the time, what have you seen in reflecting on all that, that the key attributes of of good coaching look like from your perspective?
Greg Chappell [00:01:18] Yeah, it's a very interesting question, because I obviously grew up in an era where there wasn't a great deal of organised coaching. We were lucky that my two brothers and I were lucky that our father was a very keen cricketer and keen sportsman generally, and he encouraged us to play sport. Cricket was always his favourite sport, so that was the dominant sport for us. But luckily, the way he introduced us to the game was very clever. There was a lot of intuitive stuff there. He understood the game very well and he understood coaching better than I think I realised at the time. The three of us all finished up playing for Australia. We all had very different styles and that was because Dad's early introduction was about what he wanted us to do, not how to do it. So he allowed us to develop our own style, and I think that was a very important part of it. The other really important point that I reflect on now, I didn't realise it at the time, but he encouraged us whenever we played cricket in the backyard or with our friends or down the beach or wherever it was, it was always to be played seriously. He wanted us to play with the hard ball from an early age, but he didn't give us any pads and gloves to play with. So the message behind it was always, if you learn to use the bat properly, you won't need pads and gloves. So it was a bit of tough love, if you like. There were a few wraps on the leg and a few wraps on the fingers. But we learnt that if I did miss it with the bat, then it wasn't going to hurt us. So that was important. It also made us watch the ball. He also had a family friend or friend of his who did some sort of organised coaching on a Sunday morning near, well not far from our home and so any of the kids in the neighbourhood or anywhere in Adelaide, for that matter, I mean, I remember kids catching the tram down from the eastern suburbs of Adelaide. We lived in Glenelg and come down to Glenelg and walk down to Mr Fuller's place where he had a couple of nets in his backyard and he would throw balls to the kids and basically teach the defensive aspects of the game. But the part of it that I remember most was that when Mr Fuller was finished with us, Dad would take us into the next net and he would throw balls to us randomly, but full tosses, long hops, half volleys and he taught us to score runs. He encouraged us to look to be scoring runs. And I'm forever grateful that I grew up in that environment because it really did influence my my thinking and my style from a very early age. Then when we got to the elite cricket levels, they were no team coaches, they were no club coaches. They were people who organise practise by the clock, know how long you batted balls and who batted. But no one was giving a great deal of instruction, most of the instruction or most of the learning came peer-to-peer. You know, we would talk amongst ourselves, we would watch what the other guys were doing and watch particularly what the better players were doing and the beauty of the game being a very much an amateur game in those days was that training was only twice a week. You came from work because everyone had a job and you were keen to get there. So there was a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm. But also you had the odd test player. You had a few shield players who were indisperesed around your training sessions. So you got to look at good players up close. And that's where the learning came from. And I'm just so grateful that with the environment in which I grew up.
Cam Tradell [00:05:19] Those communities of practise in that peer to peer learning. And it's something that is so powerful with regards to, you know, your peers understanding what your strengths and weaknesses are because they see you so often and play against you so often. And I guess that's the piece where a coach can play a crucial role in creating those environments now, learning from all those experiences from the past.
Greg Chappell [00:05:41] Yeah look, I think the other important part of it was that they were also batting, bowling against the same players. The lessons that you were getting were pertinent to that moment. It wasn't just somebody's experience from a day gone by or some somewhere else. It's much harder being a coach, having sort of gone from being a player and got involved in coaching. The games obviously evolved from very much a pastime in the first half of my career, it was a pastime. We had a job and we played Cricket on weekends and, you know, a few in between. You know if you got the Sheffield Shield level or Test cricket, obviously you went further than that, but it was very much a pastime. Then we went through the revolution of World Series Cricket and came out the other side and it was semi-professional. So it was starting to evolve into that professional game. And more coaches came into being. Bob Simpson was the first coach that was introduced to an Australian team. And that sort of came from the pressure that evolved as the game evolved into the semi professional stage, there was more responsibility, more pressure on the team captain, when you talk about an Australian team. So the decision was taken that a lot of that responsibility had to be taken off the captain. So team managers, team coaches, media advisers and all those sort of people started to come into being and and Bob Simpson was the first one as an Australian coach, and he came at a time when we had a young team and he did a lot of drilling. He did a lot of work ethic sort of stuff, really got the guys working a lot harder. And that was with a change that started to take the emphasis away from the peer to peer stuff and put an individual in charge of the learning. And I'm not sure that that's necessarily the ideal situation, no doubt that peer to peer stuff still goes on. But all of a sudden we had an individual and it doesn't matter who that individual is or was. All of a sudden, somebody became responsible for the information. The holder of the information, if you like, all the wisdom, and I think the wheel got sort of turned on the side a little bit at that poin. There's some good aspects of that, but I think there are some lesser, less good aspects of it and we can go into that as we as we talk.
Cam Tradell [00:08:26] It's interesting because if we take that down to the next level and you talk about what's happening at the top and often community reflects what happens at the top, what would good community coaching look like? What would those environments look like at the community level? How would you see that optimising the coaches role in the community?
Greg Chappell [00:08:46] Yeah, it's such an important one. And this is it wasn't so much what happened at the elite level, that sort of took things off kilter, in my view, it was what happened at that community level and the club level is all of a sudden we decided we needed more coaches. And so the coach education came into being and then that grew very quickly. And there were some good aspects of that. But the emphasis of coaching became around technique. And from a batting point of view, it became about not getting out and from a bowling point of view, it became about not going for runs. And that's the wrong aspect, in my view, in the beauty of the education that I got, it was about scoring runs and taking wickets. And you learnt everything from that aspect, but I think what's happened over the last 40 years or so is that as we've got more coaches at that community level, I mean, we had our training sessions, were twice a week and they were generally in nets because that was the only efficient way you could get a group of however many people through a training session reasonably quickly and efficiently. But they were top up sessions. A lot of what we learnt, particularly as kids and in the formative years, was from our backyard cricket, our cricket down the park or the beach, which was totally run by the kids themselves. We had no adults, we had no coaches, no umpires. We umpired our games. We argued amongst ourselves. We decided what the rules were. We decided depending on the location in the backyard, obviously it was a much tighter environment. So you had automatic wicketkeepers and the trees were out and the house was out or whatever. And then down at the park, you maybe had a few more kids. So you had a few extra fielders, but you still have some trees that were part of the fielding team and so on. So you were learning in an environment that was very close to the game. You were making decisions in real time so that the development of the individual wasn't just about the technical aspects, it was about the mental aspects and the decision making. And what we know from history is that the best players are the best decision makers. They are the ones that are picking up most information and using it more efficiently and effectively than than the rest. It's not technically driven. I mean, if you want a good current example, you wouldn't necessarily coach someone to bat like Steve Smith from a technical point of view. But he knows how to make runs. You know, he he's learnt to to bat in an environment that was about run scoring. And so what I believe we need to be doing at the community level is teaching people the whole game. So creating environments that match the games. Cricket, possibly golf is the other sport that train in one environment and play in another. You know, we don't play in nets, we play in a field that's got spaces and the art of batting and the best batsmen have been the ones who've been able to hit the ball where the fielders aren't. And so if you're not learning in an environment that is teaching that, then you're only learning part of the game. And I think that the problem that I have seen, particularly once I got into the coaching role, was that nets can be good, but you've got to understand how to use nets. But it's not just a matter of bowling a never ending over or batting, you know, just batting for volume, the worst word I here in cricket these days. Where do you get the volume? It's not about volume. It's about the quality of the training and the quality of the learning environment. The coaches role, in my view, is to create a learning environment, not be didactic, not be the owner of all the wisdom, but be able to create the environment that imbues the education.
Cam Tradell [00:13:13] Incredibly insightful because context is key, taking that to it to another level. What are some of the key aspects that an official, an umpire can provide to assist at any level of the game?
Greg Chappell [00:13:27] Yeah, it's a really good question because the good umpires stand out. Generally, they're good human beings. They are the people that have got a little bit of an understanding that not everyone's perfect, perhaps no one's perfect and that people are going to make mistakes. Cricket is an emotional game or sport is an emotional activity. And sometimes emotions run over and people say things and and maybe do things or threaten things that may be not appropriate. And the best umpires have been the ones that have handled the whole environment the best. They generally were good decision makers. Some of the worst numbers were the ones who were so fixated on getting the decisions right that they the environment got out of hand. Whereas the better umpires sometimes make mistakes, umpires will always make mistakes. You were prepared as a player to accept a mistake from an umpire that you knew who was a good bloke and ran the game well, understood that they was going to be some emotion running over from time to time. Mel Johnson was one who stood out in my time. From an Australian point of view, Mel hadn't played first class cricket, but he played premier great cricket. He understood the game. He was a school teacher, so he understood young men, young people. And so he he could read the situation. Well, know Dickie Bird in England was another. Now the good umpire for the same reason. I mean, Dickie Bird had no right to be a good umpire. He was the most nervous, anxious individual that I ever met. But somehow he got his decisions right generally. But he also allowed the game to ebb and flow. But when something looked like it was going to get out of hand, he would step in. And the good umpires did that, they would just say to the captain "mate watch out this situation starting to get out of hand. You better handle it." They never let it go too far. And there was a little bit of give and take, you had a relationship with those umpires, they weren't the only two, they were other good ones around. But you actually had a relationship with the umpire as a player and as a captain. And it was really important. You didn't have to be the best of mates with the umpires. There had to be a bit of distance. But a good relationship between the captain and the umpire made a really big difference because all the umpire had to do was say, "Greg, this is a bit of an issue you better sort it out" and you knew tha he meant it, and you knew that if you wanted the relationship to continue, you had to handle it. And so most things were handled on the field. I think what's happened since we've got match referees and third umpires, fourth umpires, DRS and all of that, the responsibility has been taken off the field. And I think that's made a huge difference, and you're not getting, I don't see the same relationships that existed before you took the responsibility off the field.
Cam Tradell [00:16:44] There's a lot to sort of unpack there because, I mean, those relationships become so important. The environments that they create with the coaches, the officials and the players all communicating well tend to be the the best environments to compete in any way.
Greg Chappell [00:17:00] Communication, you mentioned the word communication. That's key in any environment. You know, if you've got a standoff where you've got someone who's saying, look, that's not my responsibility or no, I've got to focus on this, I can't afford to distract myself by all that sort of stuff, then the environment is going to go downhill.
Cam Tradell [00:17:19] Fantastic Greg, thanks very, very much. We really appreciate it. There's a lot for us to think about and a lot for us to take away and I'm certain that a lot of community coaches will learn a lot from that. Thank you very, very much for your time today.
Greg Chappell [00:17:30] My pleasure, Cam. Nice to talk to you.
Cam Tradell [00:17:35] Thank you for joining me today, if you'd like to find out more about coaching and officiating or have any feedback or questions, please email us at email@example.com. My name is Cam Tradell and I look forward to you joining me for the next podcast in the coaching and officiating series.
Coaching and Officiating - Lauren Jackson
Narrator [00:00:03] This is a Sport Australia podcast production.
Cam Tradell [00:00:07] Hello and welcome to our Coaching and Officiating podcast series. My name is Cam Tradell and I’m the Project Lead for Coaching and Officiating at Sport Australia. Over this series, we will look at what it takes to modernise Australia's coaching and officiating system. Each podcast, we will be joined by a special guest who will share experiences and practical tips on their topics.
Cam Tradell [00:00:32] Today, we're fortunate to be joined by Lauren Jackson, former Australian Opals basketball legend, WNBA/ WNBL player, Naismith Hall of Fame member, Sport Australia Hall of Fame Board Member and who is currently the head of Women's Basketball and Girls Strategy at Basketball Australia. Lauren made her debut for Australia at the Sydney 2000 Olympics and has really done it all in basketball from playing at the elite level in Australia and overseas, to coaching the Albury Bandits women's team. Lauren, welcome to the podcast. I'll jump straight into our first question. So growing up, your mum was one of your coaches and clearly very influential to what happened. Do you remember any other coaches in those years as you were coming through, or even not coaches someone else who sort of set to the side that was influential to you?
Lauren Jackson [00:01:25] You know, I definitely do. There was a guy named Eric Kivi who was a coach from Wollongong. And for me, I really thought his demeanour and his manner in the way that he treated us and he was so respectful and just a really caring guy, you know, I loved him. He was one of my favourite coaches, you know, and I think that, it’s funny because it's sort of the other end of the spectrum. Tom Maher was one of my other favourite coaches of all time, and he was completely the opposite. There was nothing really gentle about him. So I kind of responded to, there was a quality in these coaches and I think it might have been that kindness piece because Tom underneath it all was kind and he wanted the best for his athletes. But Eric, especially as a junior, I think I was probably 14 the first time I played under him, I just remember this really gentleness about him and the way that he spoke and this calmness which I didn't have, like I was not a calm kid, but when other people are calm, that made me feel better. So he and my mum, my mum had that trait as well. Nothing really rattled her ever. And they weren't nasty. They didn't make us do completely outrageous things as youngsters. Like I had coaches having us do 50 push-ups before every training session and like just random stuff. You know, when you kids even at state level, I just I think that there's sort of a really fine line between ensuring that those kids are happy and safe and having fun and also able to perform like at the level you need them to perform at. And that's to me, that's probably the biggest challenge, particularly with state coaches and things like that, you know. So state under 16's and under 18's, like, it's really making sure that those kids are happy and they're enjoying their experience because otherwise they're going to drop out. You know, they won't continue on, which is what unfortunately what happened to alot of my friends.
Cam Tradell [00:03:26] You talked about his kindness and so on. Can you take us to what would one of his sessions look like? So what would the environment be like at one of his sessions? So you talk about him as a person. How did that work in the team environment? How did that sort of manifest itself?
Lauren Jackson [00:03:40] To be truthfully honest? I really don't remember like the on court stuff. I remember levels of accountability. And this is what my mum had as well, was as much as it was an environment where we felt safe, where we felt comfortable and everything like that, there was accountability like you had to, you know, they'll be kind and they'll be everything that you need them to be. But when you step on the basketball court, you go hard and give it everything you've got. And it's funny because my Hall of Fame thing, the other couple of weeks ago, one of my best friends from Albury was over here and she's now an under 14 coach of her daughter. But she was also my team mate when my mum was coaching. So we were watching all of these old basketball games from, you know, like under 12 state championships and Brodie, she said something about mum being tough and it's tough. She was tough. Like she was definitely tough coach. She expected the best from her girls. But as soon as that game was over, there wasn't that real anger. You know, if we lost, it was more about nurturing, like knowing that we felt that loss just as deeply as what the coach did, or as anybody else did. And I think that's it's a really fine line to juggle, because I think a lot of people who haven't played at any level of sport who come into sport, it's not knowing how to deal with those moments, like after a hard loss, or after big win. And you think you're on cloud nine and then you've got to back up two or three hours later at community sport and you get thumped, you know, like it's it's a really fine line to juggle kids. And, yeah, the coaches that I had, particularly in juniors, a lot of them knew how to do that and a lot of them didn't. And the ones that knew how to stuck with me.
Cam Tradell [00:05:26] So you're looking to coach your own kids as they come through. What sort of coach will you be like? We've got this image of what we are and what we want to say. What attributes do you think that you will bring to that community level, knowing that you've played at that very, very highest level for a long time? What are the ways that you will sort of distil that to the community game, do you think?
Lauren Jackson [00:05:44] I think that just giving the kids the opportunity to get out on the court and play their hearts out, but also in an environment where they're not going to get shouted at, they're not they're going to feel safe and feel like they're involved in something bigger than themselves. So, you know, I think that that calmness thing is a really big piece. I think a lot of kids deal with a lot of stuff at home, at school, the basketball court. That environment needs to be a place where they feel safe, where they feel like they can be themselves, where they feel like they've got team-mates who've got their back. They've got friends. There's adults that care about them. And I think that,that's what I want to be able to bring, you know, performance and outcomes is so important. Of course they are, everybody, you know, that otherwise we wouldn't play sport, right? But at that level, when kids are young, it is about ensuring that they're able to develop in an environment that is safe. And that to me, is probably the biggest thing about community basketball. Not to say, I'll have expectations, if we're training hard, you're going to go out there and play hard. But it's first and foremost, they've got to enjoy it. They've got to have fun and they've got to stay in the game. We've got to give them that pathway.
Cam Tradell [00:06:57] I like what you're saying with regards to you create the structure, but off the back of the structure, there's always mistakes. There's always opportunities. There's things for people to then make those instinctive decisions. I kind of like the fact that as well as you drill, there's always a Plan B because it becomes available, because that's what happens, because sports messy.
Lauren Jackson [00:07:14] It really is. Now, that's so true. So I think it's how you, I guess, structure your practises to make sure that you're drilling the the things that you can't control, you know, blocking out, rebounding, shooting, back cuts, setting screens, pick and rolls like you can't anticipate what defence is going to be played, or if they're going to be defensive players at all. You know, you don't know. So I think that it really does come down to the things that you implement in practise. And I guess even just highlighting a few different aspects of the game that you want the kids to work on. And they can do it at home like a lot of this stuff, they can pick up a ball in the backyard, which is how I grew up playing was in my backyard or a little kid down the road here is like out the front dribbling ball every single day. He's got a ball in his hand. And I think if you're doing that, you've got a ball in your hand, you just toss up shots. You naturally just going and rebounding and seeing where the ball's going to fall, you know. So there's a lot of I think just being able to have a ball in your hands and just doing stuff with it, it gives you an idea of what game play is going to be like. And a lot of that just comes from literally just having a ball in your hands.
Cam Tradell [00:08:23] Some of the creativity that comes from kids is remarkable to watch. Did that ever come into play like did you ever, the shots that you were making at the top? Were you ever making those shots as a kid?
Lauren Jackson [00:08:33] Yeah, absolutely. You know, my mum gave me a drill, one drill when I was a kid, you know, and I and she's always said to me, just get your mikan right, mikan, reverse mikan and underneath the basket and to the day I retired, I was doing that every single day before every single game, before every single practise, because it ensured like it ensured that I just got my touch. I just got my rhythm. And it's sometimes that's all it takes is just getting in your rhythm, you know. So I think some of these drills and look, I was so fortunate to have my mum who who had played at that level, and I guess she's got a basketball brain. So I think, you know, I think that stuff comes pretty naturally to us. But I would say that, you know, having to sort of go to drill something that can centre a child before a game, just bring their focus to the basketball game that is critical, you know, and that and it's different for all kids, you know. So it is it is a bit like education. It's literally finding out what the motivation is, how you can centre a kid, how can focus them. It might be one word. For me, it was having the ball in my hand, just doing mikan drill under the ring. So, yeah, it was that's yes, definitely. I had that one drill that one thing in the backyard.
Cam Tradell [00:09:43] I wanted to know if that move that was you go to, was that your pet play? That's what you went to first?.
Lauren Jackson [00:09:50] No, it wasn't a pet play. It was it was like so if I got a rebound underneath the basket, which happened a lot, right? I just would go up and finish. So it was more of a finishing play. So if you're underneath the basket where I was most of my career, that was what I would go to. And getting that feel for the basketball before a game, it gives you the confidence, I guess, that, your not going to tank it. And then also it was a focus thing, right? It snapped me into gear. Like as soon as I started doing mikan, I knew that, you know, I was about to be either competing and training or in a game. And then as I got older, it just became a flow thing. It was just getting getting into my flow, just refocusing and resetting and also to with my injuries and things like that. Often my body was, you know, not great. And I had to sort of find a way to, I guess, just feel good. And that made me feel good. You know, I think my go to is like a three pointer, like at the end of a clock. But the thing is, they become you go to because you do them so much and drilling is just so important. And learning that routine, especially from a really young age, becomes so important later in your career.
Cam Tradell [00:10:55] You said propping up a three pointer. Is that out of the fact that you wouldn't do it in the middle of a quarter? However, you can do it right at the end on the crux, because if you hit, its gold, if you miss, no one's really expecting you to hit it, if it's right on the buzzer?
Lauren Jackson [00:11:10] Look, I you know, it's same with mikan and I sort of had a bit of a shooting routine and I would shoot, again this was towards the end of my career when I was older. I couldn't do a lot of the five on five training stuff and the pounding so much but I would shoot I get up two hundred, three hundred shots a day and the majority of them were three's or jumpers or, you know, just because that's all I could do. So all I if all I could do physically was shoot, I was going to shoot as much as I could. And it turned out I became a much better shooter when I got a lot older than I was when I was younger. But mum was really incredible when I was younger, because I do remember her saying to me, if you can make it three, you'll go as far as you can in the sport because big people don't shoot outside the paint. That's why I think my career went in the direction it did, was because I had those skills and my mum was the one that encouraged me to learn sort of guard skills as a big. So I was really lucky that I had just her guidance and her support. And look, I fought her every step of the way as a kid. I really did. She'd be like, go out and shoot you shots and then say, no, no way, get off my back. Don't talk to me about basketball like I was a hard kid to to be around. But some of the lessons that she gave me have stuck with me for the rest of my life.
Cam Tradell [00:12:28] Do you remember your coaches or what they encouraged you or how they encouraged you when you're growing up on those moves, you are a finisher, you get the ball, your job is to get that ball in that hole any way that you can. Do you remember the trial and error around working out the different ways of doing that?
Lauren Jackson [00:12:45] Honestly, I was missing out on basketball teams up until I was 13 years old. And then at 13, I got picked on Australian Junior Camp. I turned 14 at the camp and then I was on the pathway. I was within a year or two, I was in the national squad, but up until thirteen I was missing out on, I missed out on a Riverina team, you know, like that. It didn't come naturally that finishing off. And I did overthink things and I was anxious about everything, but it was the way that I dealt with that. And I played a lot better with my mother as coach because I felt safe underneath her. She was someone, even though she was tough, she brought out the best in me. So I would say that it does take time. And that's why with kids, you can't be hard on them because this is where they develop. This is where they get to that point where, you know, when they become thirteen or fourteen or fifteen, things start to click in. If they've been doing the work, regardless of whether they're making the plays at the end of the game, making teams or whatever, if they've been doing the work, this is when that stuff starts to really, you see it happen, you see it evolve.
Cam Tradell [00:13:46] So even in maturation, if you're looking at the maturation rights of kids as they come through systems or they come through just the normal growth spurt, those ones that have got those micro skills as they get into maturation, when everyone else catches up, they tend to be the ones that thrive because they're not reliant on their speed, their power from a young age where they dominate, therefore they don't need those micro skills. And then when they get there, they can then thrive because they've got now the size, the speed, the power or just the physical capability, along with those micro skills as well, which really help the game.
Lauren Jackson [00:14:20] Like I wasn't even the tallest on our team here in Albury up until I was probably twelve, I reckon. I had team-mates who now come up to my below my boob, you know, and they were taller than me when we were ten, eleven, you know. So it's kids they mature differently. So being able to give them a more complete skill set from a young age and having them do all the different things, not sort of putting them into a box is really helpful.
Cam Tradell [00:14:47] Thank you so much for sharing some incredible insights with us today. Lauren, really appreciate the insight into creating a positive, safe, learning environment for participants at the entry level and what it can mean to not just high performance sport, but also how it can help grow people through their lives has been incredible. Thanks very much.
Narrator [00:15:11] Thank you for joining me today, if you'd like to find out more about coaching and officiating or have any feedback or questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. My name is Cam Tradell and I look forward to you joining me for the next podcast in the Coaching and Officiating series.
Coaching and Officiating - Clare Ferguson
Narrator [00:00:03] This is a Sport Australia podcast production.
Cam Tradell [00:00:08] Hello and welcome to our Coaching and Officiating podcast series. My name is Cam Tradell and I’m the Project Lead for Coaching and Officiating at Sport Australia. Over this series, we will look at what it takes to modernise Australia's coaching and officiating system. Each podcast, we will be joined by a special guest who will share experiences and practical tips on their topics. We are fortunate to be joined by Clare Ferguson today, Clare has a real passion for sport and the positive impact it can make on people's lives. Clare's own playing journey was extensive, having played for the Queensland Firebirds for eight years and ultimately several campaigns for Australia, where she had a fairy tale ending to her playing career when she captained Australia to the win in the 2016 Constellation Cup. Since retiring from the game in late 2016, Clare is currently coaching with the Queensland Firebirds, but is a real drive to make a difference on the entry level requirements of participants not just in Netball, but all sports and young people's relationship to sport and activity. With the support of Suncorp, Clare has developed the resources to support parents to recognise the activity requirements of children based on the Sport Australia Physical Literacy Framework. And that is what we would like to explore further today. Thanks for joining us this afternoon, Clare. How are you?
Clare Ferguson [00:01:27] I'm fabulous. Thank you so much for having me Cam.
Cam Tradell [00:01:29] Pleasure. Absolute pleasure, Clare. I'm really interested in how this all started for you. So you've finished your playing career, had a great playing career and as we say, a fairy tale ending. And then you sort of moved into your own coaching journey. But you've then seemed to pivot away to this area where you interested in how we develop people from the early ages. What was your motivation to be involved in that early development of participants?
Clare Ferguson [00:01:53] I think for me it was the influence that my early coaches had on my career. And I think that's something that lots of people talk about with elite and high performance professional athletes is the coaches that have a really big impact on your career and a lot of people expect the responses to be the high performance coaches that you did have and a lot of those people that I had, I had a lot of the greats of Netball involved in my journey, they were incredibly influential. But for me, the person that had the most impact on my sporting career, my life generally was my high school Netball coach. And she was the one that actually got me engaged in coaching when I had just finished high school and went back and coached grade eight. So that's where my coaching journey actually began. And I think that what I really valued in her and what I saw is the biggest influence that she had over me was the holistic approach, I suppose, that she had to my whole self and the development of my team-mates whole selves in our progression through adolescence and how she sort of set us up and equipped us for life just generally beyond the Netball court and the value that Netball and being involved and engaged in team sport had in the greater sort of spans of our life once we left high school. And so now that I've finished my playing career and I'm transitioning on to that coaching, I'm fortunate, I'm engaged with the elite and high performance athletes now, but they started on grassroots courts and I still am really invested in this development of the next generation of players in Netball or any other code or athletes just generally because I saw what having great coaches did to my life. And I know that we still have such high dropout rates of young kids in sport these days. And within Australia, we should be the healthiest, fittest community out there based on, you know, our lifestyle and our weather and all those fabulous things that we have at our disposal and fingertips. And so I just want to ensure that our grassroots coaches are being equipped with what they need to be able to transition and help those athletes stay involved in the game. And also just because it gives you so much more satisfaction to the coach when you have some confidence and some direction and knowledge around what you're doing, because it really is the most satisfying job, I think, to have, whether it's voluntary or not, just to be able to influence and impart knowledge and shape these kids and what they're doing. It's just a really fortunate position to be in in life. And so I think I want to be able to help people understand that and to know it a bit better.
Cam Tradell [00:04:36] Funnily enough, when you started to tell that story, I thought immediately about people who impacted me, and I thought of that, too, that I wish they'd coach me for the rest of my life because I had those attachments. I really like the sound of that teacher and the way that they were able to get your attention and intrinsically motivate you to play. What do you think those components look like? What was it that was so good about that teacher that engaged you in sport or could it have been any sport or was it just Netball?
Clare Ferguson [00:05:06] Yeah, well, I was extremely tall from a young age, so Netball was sort of a default just as a result of my height. But I was also I really enjoyed athletics. The reason I chose Netball was because of the environment. I think that was created by that teacher. And I think what she did for me as a teenager and for the other girls that I played with as well, was she created a space for us to feel like ourselves so it was an area that we're accepted and we were accepted for who we were and we were able to recognise and acknowledge our strengths. And coming to Netball on a Tuesday and then playing on the weekends was more than just about skills and drills. And what she did was really focus on developing who we were. So all of those things like the ability to self reflect, the ability to set goals, the communication that we had, we formed these really amazing social connections as a team. It was the first environment that I learnt about what culture is and what it means to really commit to something and be persistent and passionate and dedicated. That formation and establishment of resilience. And so all of these greater, big broader concepts beyond just passing and catching. And don't get me wrong, she was also phenomenal in terms of what she exposed us to from a foundation skill level and tactically and she set me up in terms of the start of my elite Netball journey with that framework. But it was more about the yeah, the holistic approach she had to developing us as people. And I think she viewed it as a bigger picture thing than just us being high school Netballers. And so for the girls that played in that team, I mean, I'm still very, very, my best friends are three of the other girls that I played with, they were bridesmaids at my wedding, and I'll be friends with them for the rest of my life. And I think that, yes, she just had this really powerful ability to understand the influence that she would have over us beyond trainings and match play on the weekends.
Cam Tradell [00:07:14] That's incredible insight, isn't it? Is that the impact that a coach can make on you making a choice to stay in a sport? Because, again, you think about all your interactions with people at those times and you're exposed to so much of that time. This clearly is an interaction that was valuable and worthwhile and it shape your future.
Clare Ferguson [00:07:35] And I think that to understand that when children are going through adolescence, they're at this tipping point of transitioning away from the influence that their parents have. And so it's so vital for them to have these adult figures in their life that play a role in being a mentor. And for so many children, that mentor is found within their sporting community or their sporting environment. And they do have, I don't even know every elite athlete, every high performance athlete would be able to pinpoint and tell you about a coach that was engaged with them from either a grassroots or a junior development level that had an influential role of how they see themselves and how they see their game. And you don't even have to talk to people that are engaged in high level professional sport. It's just anybody that continues to play sport until late into their lives. Ask them about you know tell me one coach, who you loved it that had a real impact on you and they can just reel it off like that. The memory will just come back to them. And I think that shows the importance that if you can ask Joe Bloggsdown at the local footy park on a Saturday afternoon, did you have a coach that really made a difference to you? Yep. And he'll tell you straight away. That's what it's about. It's not about creating diamonds and wallabies and Olympians, which I mean, yes, that's incredible. If you have the opportunity to play a role in the progression of someone's career to the highest of high in terms of sporting accolades. But it's it's being able to influence somebody who will just remain engaged in sport and play it because they love it and be active and healthy and then be able to model that for their children and other people within their community. That's the impact that you want to have in terms of your contribution to society.
Cam Tradell [00:09:22] I like the approach because there's so many more aspects than the technical and practical and that tends to be through no fault of, I guess, anyone is that that's what you get drawn to because you think they're the things they have to coach.
Clare Ferguson [00:09:34] Yeah, 100 percent like when you get involved with sport. Isn't that where you think you're doing your coaching sport? But I mean, you know, and I know there's so much more to it than that.
Cam Tradell [00:09:44] That's what I'm really interested in, is the fact you and you're right, there is so much more. And it's about how do you get that hook? What's the intrinsic motivation for the people in front of you to be involved? And I'm really interested in how did you link inwith the Sport Australia Physical Literacy Framework? How did you first become involved in that and what did that mean to the way that you put things together?
Clare Ferguson [00:10:04] So I created the resource for Suncorp and they have a relationship with Sport Australia. And they floated the idea with me that they wanted to resource for parent and volunteer coaches. And so they sent me the Sport Australia, the Physical Literacy Framework. And I must admit, when I first looked at it, I was really overwhelmed because it is like I read through the official document and it is big and it is meaty. But when I actually sat down and kind of pieced it out and went through a lot of the different resources, the guide that was available for clubs and coaches and there is a guide for parents there, there are very easily digestible examples of it. And I think what I did when I was reading through it was I automatically thought of my high school coach, because then the four domains that sit within that Physical Literacy Framework. So we've got the physical domain, which is all about how our bodies move and the way that we do things. And then there's the psychological domain, which is more about how we feel when we're exercising. I suppose there's stuff to do with feedback and self mindset things and self reflective tasks and all of that and how we incorporate that into our physical movement. There's a cognitive side, which is where we come into the tactics and game plan, and they have to change and think online to evolve how we play and how we move, as well as goal setting and the role that that plays. And then there's a social side, which is that beautiful thing that sport gives us, which is connection with people around us and how we're able to engage with others. And when I was reading through it, I thought of my coach and how she was able to create all of those things for us within that framework for us as 13 year old’s through to the age of 17. And by doing those things, what she did was instill in us this lifelong desire and drive to be active, be healthy, be motivated, be self driven, proactive and all of these skills that you saw on the court transferred into the classroom, the boardroom, a way to life beyond Netball. And I when I was doing it, I thought really, parent and volunteer coaches who are turning up want skills and drills as a platform. Like if you give them a resource, that's what they want. They want you to tell them exactly what they need to do because they get stuck. But I think it's really important that they understand that sport is so much more than movement and it's so much more than skills and drills. And so to be able to provide them with an insight into what's important, to include a framework around this, these are some good things to put into your session. But these other things are really important and that you need to consider, including you don't have to pick all of them. You might just pick one thing that you're going to be going to, include with your team for a period of a year or a season or three or four weeks. And then you shift your attention and go to something else. But by including these things, you'll actually get more enjoyment from your players that if you just go down to the courts on a Tuesday night and play with them and then practice shooting for half an hour and then head to the game on the weekend, they still going to love it, but they'll love it even more. And they'll have lasting memories if you take this different approach. And I think the other thing that it speaks to, like what you were saying before, Cam, is you're going to have kids that are awesome at playing and that just get so much satisfaction and love out of getting on court and running around or going onto the track or the field or wherever they are and just playing. And they just love that because they're talented and they just love the sport. There are going to be other children that have come to Saturday sport because their parents have asked them to do it or because this is the thing that they are trialing and they're giving it a go and they might not get it straight away or they might feel out of place or their strengths might lie in different areas. And so if you change the way you run your sessions to include all of these different things, you're going to be targeting those kids that might get missed if all you're focusing on is the physical stuff. And so I think that I wanted that to be a thing that parents could take from the resources, having an understanding that we're catering for everyone here and we're catering for the strengths of all coaches as well. So you bring your own flavour and your own influences to how you want to do it. But that's sort of the yeah, I suppose that's sort of the approach in the hopes that I have had when the resource was created.
Cam Tradell [00:14:43] It's also comes down to that assessment piece of what can they do, what can't they do, what do they need to do? And then how am I going to create this session to engage with all of them? Because it's daunting as a coach when you turn up and you realise that, hold on. I've got people of different skills here, different levels, different enjoyment. How do I create these environments? And I think what you've done is you've given people maybe not always the answer, but the right questions to ask to how can I provide that environment? And I think that's really powerful for coaches.
Clare Ferguson [00:15:14] It is because you should I think when you're a coach, you've got to be creative and there's no right answer. There's no wrong way of doing things because everybody's ways, their own way, which is another reason why you can't just give someone a pack of skills and drills necessarily all the time, because that's not going to suit your group that you're working with, and it might not suit you and so being able to have those tools to be able to start asking questions or thinking about things I think is the best way to go around it. And what you were saying before Cam in terms of what are their skills at the moment and what do they need to be able to do? Like what are the things that they are missing or what are the things that they can improve on? Because not every child needs to be able to. I don't know. In Netball they don't need to be able to shoot from the edge of the ring or that they don't need to be able to do all of the skills right from the get go. We want to cover off on basic foundation skills, and some children may be more advanced than others, but you're never going to know that if you don't give them the ability to try. So if I was to set you out a whole heap of drills that just had basic dodging and passing in it, you may be missing this amazing opportunity. Your kids may be amazing at doing that. And then you're putting this limitation on their ability of where they can go to and not just capping, like the physical ability in terms of what they're able to do from a skill basis, but also you stopping the development of their cognitive development of their tactical thinking and integrating them into the planning of the session and being able to watch that side of things grow as well. So I think that's so important as a grassroots coach as well, is that, use the power that you have of engaging with your players to help you plan and help you think about how are you going to change and alter things and introduce new rules and concepts and let them be the ones that guide you. You obviously as well, you're the overarching emphasis, I think, particularly at that grassroots level. But again, use all those little amazing brains and their little skill sets to help guide way where you are going to take them to.
Cam Tradell [00:17:22] And that comes down to understanding what your session is. So when you're planning sessions, what do you want to get out of it? And sometimes the messier session that you do, you get surprised with where they're actually at because you're asking questions that you're not limiting the answer, you're allowing them to explore. And you tend to find that sometimes they're more developed than we give them credit for. And they shock us and we realise to how that can become boring for participants because they're not being extended. So I really like that.
Clare Ferguson [00:17:51] Yeah. And I think as well, it's your perception of what's fun and their perception of what's fun are two totally different things. And you may plan a session and you're like, oh my God, that was awful when you get there and you think, what a doozy, nothing went to plan then, but you might actually ask you players and they'll say "that was so much fun, I love this bit, that bit I didn't love so much but still understood why we did it all". Not every session has to be liked by your standards, what is perfect or what is perfection, because we know in sport as well that games on the weekend aren't perfect. Sometimes they're an absolute ravel, they're just a mess and nothing goes to plan. And so being able to simulate those things in a training environment is perfect. And yep, at the end of the day, as long as you're building a relationship with your players and engaging them in the process, then you can't, we can't really go wrong with where at least where your intention is in terms of your planning and what you're trying to achieve.
Cam Tradell [00:18:47] And that feedback is crucial because it helps you with your future of, well, what is it that they actually love doing. I love what you said before too Clare, they they tell you what fun is rather than you imposing fun.
Clare Ferguson [00:18:59] Because yes, I mean, I'm not saying that adults don't know what fun is, but kids sure do like we know that I know fun is. And so let them tell you and guide you on what they want to do and how they run it. Yeah, it's the best way and seeing smiles on faces, like who wouldn't want to be involved in that every single week. Smiles and laughs. And that's where their memories are formed in that environment. So yeah, it's the best thing for you.
Cam Tradell [00:19:25] One last question for you, and it's one that I tend to use because I don't know the answer. It's out of the back of what you're passionate about, what you're doing. So the physical literacy work that you've given to parents to then help them, what would be utopia? What's the end impact that you'd like to see off the back of this? If you could make that one change, what would that be?
Clare Ferguson [00:19:46] An overarching utopian goal is that we have more children participating in sport for longer. So lifelong participation in sport across their lives. And we don't see the drop out rates that we do now. And we also see parents modelling healthy sporting active behaviours for their children as well. So, I mean, that's the overarching goal. But I think my goal would be to turn up at a Netball Association on a Tuesday night and not seeing coaches role out the same session week after week and not seeing children standing still and waiting for their turn to be engaged in long lines of waiting and standing to be still. I would love to be able to walk in to Netball Association on a on a training night, and think oh my goodness this is incredible, that team's doing something so fantastic, those children. It's a session that's catered for the team that's just for them. And then I'll look somewhere else and see another team doing something completely different, all encompassing the same skills in terms of what they're trying to execute, but incorporation of different elements of physical literacy in there that make the session that the teams own and the coaches own. In a utopian world, I think that's what I would love and I would love children who are participating to feel immense value and satisfaction of being in that group environment.
Cam Tradell [00:21:11] Clare, I really appreciate your time today. Thanks so much for sharing your insight. So much to take away for othercoaches. So thank you very much for your time. Thank you for joining me today, if you'd like to find out more about coaching and officiating or have any feedback or questions, please email us at email@example.com. My name is Cam Tradell and I look forward to you joining me for the next podcast in the Coaching and Officiating series.
Coaching and Officiating - Peter Conde
Narrator [00:00:03] This is a Sport Australia podcast production. Hello and welcome to our Coaching and Officiating podcast series. My name is Cam Tradell and i'm the Project Lead for Coaching and Officiating at Sport Australia. Over this series, we will look at what it takes to modernise Australia's coaching and officiating system. Each podcast, we will be joined by a special guest who will share experiences and practical tips on their topics. Today, we're joined by Peter Condie, who's the CEO at the Australian Institute of Sport. Good afternoon Peter, how are you?
Peter Conde [00:00:41] Good afternoon Cam, very well. Nice to be with you.
Cam Tradell [00:00:43] Peter, I just thought we'd start with a really holistic view of Australian sport. Over the last 20 years, so much has changed. There's been so much growth in different areas and obviously technology and so on has really advanced. How have you seen the changes in sport and the impact in sport over the past 20 to 25 years?
Peter Conde [00:01:02] Well, it would be presumptuous of me to talk back that far. So my involvement with high performance sport really started from about 2005 onwards, and that was really transitioning out of my previous role in business. And I was asked to do a review of the sport that I was connected with, which happened to be the sport of Sailing, which happened despite Australia's pretty good performances, very good performances at the 2004 Olympics. The sport that I was engaged with came home empty handed and so no medals at all. And I was asked to, because of my business strategy background, to do some work in helping to turn that around. And, you know, quite frankly, I had no real expertise in the area. I was engaged heavily in sport. Would it be my early days of running, which I didn't particularly enjoy or my actual sailing experience before I moved into business. So really, that was a great experience, though, because what it gave me was an opportunity to to be engaged with some really outstanding people who really knew quite a lot about high performance and gave me an excuse to go around and talk to a whole bunch of sports and a whole bunch of coaches, athletes, managers in my sport nationally, internationally and overseas, and to synthesize what we rather hopefully termed was the gold medal plan. And fortunately for us, the gold medal plan came good in Australia's won in sailing multiple gold medals at every Olympics since, that's not quite true, only one gold medal, but three silvers in Rio. And, you know, I think back to to that is a little microcosm of what we're after, I think. And it was actually Victor Kovalenko, who's known as the medal maker, a head coach of that program, who really led me to this sort of understanding that what we really needed to be successful was three things gold medal athletes, gold medal potential athletes, gold medal coaches and gold medal support systems. And that without, you take one of those three legs of the chair away, it's going to fall over. And so I think that, you know, when we look at the the changes in the performance of Australia over a period of time and, you know, we still punch well above our weight. You know, we're still an Olympic Games top 10 in the world. Some people are disappointed with that. It's actually and I'm probably one of those because I think we can do better. But it's a damn good performance for a country of 25 million people. But, you know, when we looked at how those performances have changed at the elite level over the last 17 years old or thereabouts, I think that that's where we've got to look, you know, where are we in terms of identifying, nurturing, retaining, developing, those athletes have got the potential to be the best in the world. Where are we in terms of developing the coaches? Certainly at the elite level that are going to be able to take them along that journey or move along that journey with them. And where are we in terms of building the right support systems? And, yeah, look, there's been lots of technological advances and so on, but we do pretty well in that. So I think that's where we look when we look at our performance trajectories. And certainly that's a model that underpins what we're thinking about in terms of the priorities in the Australian high performance sports system in the AIS and in the National Institute Network that supports athletes around the country.
Cam Tradell [00:05:05] It's incredible when you think about the role and the breadth of the role of something like the institute with regards to how you support the multiple sports understanding that the nuances between the team sports, the individual sports, what do you think the role is or the optimal role that you see from the community level to supporting you?
Peter Conde [00:05:23] Well, I think overwhelmingly it's about introducing young athletes to or potential athletes, young people to to sport, creating an environment where they really love their involvement with sport for all those reasons of physical fitness of the social interaction that they get, the ability to challenge themselves, develop themselves. But at the end of the day, they won't make it through to where we see them in elite sport unless they have a real love of what they do. And certainly coaches play an absolutely pivotal role in that. And I can think back to my days as a youngster or my kids days and in various sports you'd find those. But that, you know, despite great intentions, might really have turned the kids off that particular sport or those that just created an absolutely terrific environment for those kids to thrive, develop, love their sport, really get engaged in not just doing exactly what the coach says, but really help with the coach, helping them to think about their their own development and that sort of self directed journey, and then to be able to explore the limits of their potential and really be fully engaged in it. And that's probably what is successful, not always the traditional model that people think about when they think about coaching and the way it's often portrayed, say, in movies. Don't ask me to name one right now, but, you know, you often see the, you know, really hard nosed coaches yelling and so on and on. I'm not sure that that's actually the model that is going to hold us in in great stead these days when, you know, we really want as I say, those athletes are pretty well rounded, engaged in their own development, love their sport. And I think the research shows, have a exposure to a great variety of sport along the way. And, you know, while there are some examples of very highly specialised early specialisation in certain types of sports that that have produced very highly successful athletes over time, they'll also really sound body of evidence that says, you know, early specialisation in many sports is not what leads to to great success. And part of that, I suspect, is skill development. Part of it is exposure to all sorts of different experiences and figuring out what they really like. And part of it is just enjoying themselves and really enjoying being part of that sort of sporting environment with all the sort of personal achievement and social engagement that it can offer.
Cam Tradell [00:08:33] It's that adaptability and able to see things through different lenses is crucial. Knowing that we've got these different environments that people enter into having to understand what Japan would look like, what Rio looked like, and is there ways that that the AIS supports the athletes once they get to that level through the coaching or through whatever, to be exposed to those sort of environments.
Peter Conde [00:08:58] Well, certainly on the AIS's role is is in part to administer the public funds that are directed to enable those high performing athletes to be able to achieve on the world stage. And that's certainly something that that that most athletes wouldn't be able to afford to do themselves. So the AIS does absolutely contribute in terms of the funding that we provide to national sporting organisations to to support their strategies, the strategies we've agreed with them around providing international training opportunities, international competition opportunities, supporting them to have, as I say, those high potential athletes to have great coaching and to have great support systems around them, that is essentially our role to ensure that across the broader system, through the national sporting organisations programs supported, by not just the Canberra campus of the AIS these days, but rather by the broader network of state and territory institutes and academies of sport that provide those distributed opportunities, geographically diverse opportunities for athletes to develop in a really good daily training environment with great coaches, great peers, and to be able to do so in close to, in most cases, close to their support systems, their family support structures and so on, which I think is quite important. We're always trying to get, I think, what's the right balance between getting the critical mass and the great thinking that you get when you bring groups of athletes and groups of coaches together into that sort of critical mass, but at the same time balancing that against the support systems that they need to be well-rounded young adults and and those that are well positioned to be successful not just through sport, but in life after sport and sport can be a great a great way of preparing young people for, you know, what happens when you when you knuckle down and and work hard and focus on how you can improve and developing all sorts of other skills around how to interact with team mates and how to support each other and so on. It's a great developmental environment and I think we're damn lucky that the Olympic Committee has been able to secure the 2032 Brisbane Games, because I think it just brings a focus to those opportunities. And I think there's a lot of positive things happening around our sporting system at the moment, particularly our elite sporting system, and I think gives us that opportunity to really springboard off those recent changes and to really achieve our aim of truly being a world leading sporting nation, world leading sporting system.
Cam Tradell [00:12:07] Yeah, that's again, I think it is a really exciting opportunity. What do you see the the you know, the short term and maybe the long term future looking like knowing that you're starting to get some really exciting pieces of work done here at the AIS around the taskforce and so on. What do you see the future looking like? What are you what do you what are you heading towards?
Peter Conde [00:12:27] Well, I think I've just sort of touched on it. There is you know, we have what I think is a pretty balanced set of aspirations for the system, which is that, you know, unequivocally, we want to be able to deliver. We want our athletes to be able to win medals, stand on the podium at major international events like the Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games, Commonwealth Games. And but that's not the only thing we're after here. We're really investing quite heavily. And I think having quite a lot of success in the helping to produce those well-balanced, well-rounded athletes who are role models for their communities and engage with their community. So that's the second set of objectives are now. And our third is what I just touched on, which is having what we describe as a truly world leading system. And in a world leading system, I think we we have a system that is able to identify and support those athletes most likely to be able to succeed on the world stage. We'll have a system that outstanding at identifying, developing, retaining the very best coaches in particular. And that's the subject of the work that's going on right now to create that outstanding coach development environment in the high performance sector. And I know, as as you know, we're working really hard to link with the work that you're doing at Sport Australia in community coaching, and those have separate requirements, but a lot of commonalities. And, you know, I think we're very pleased that we're working, I think, very effectively across the system to ensure that that's very well connected and and we're leveraging off the insights that you've generated and vice versa. So I think, you know, we could talk about a range of things that that that would comprise a world leading system. But, you know, that's what we want to have. And and I think that, you know, the what's required to be there has certainly moved a lot over time. And we just this year celebrated the 40 year anniversary of the AIS and that came about back in 1991 because, you know, essentially Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and others in his cabinet decided that that the the the performances of Montreal in 1976 weren't really what the Australian public expected. And the AIS a centralised hub of great developing athletes, great coaches, great sports scientists, sports medicine practitioners, really made a massive difference in the period immediately following the AIS' opening in 1981, certainly right up to 2000, 2004. But like all systems, we have to if we want to stay at the top, we have to move forward. And, you know, one of the great strengths I think that we have now, and it was indeed foreshadowed by Don Talbot, who was the initial director of the AIS, that, you know, in his view, one day we'd have an institute in each state. Well, we do and we have had that for a little while now. But what we've got in more recent times is a recognition that if we're going to to be a world leading system, then we need to be highly coordinated and collaborative across that system. So we've got a real national approach to how we support our athletes and our teams and our sport. And that, I think is a major means that it's a major game changer. I think that all of those resources and the significant resources put in by all of the states are really coordinated and marshalled and insights are shared, rather than duplicated across the system. Work is research. Insights are leveraged for the benefit of all. I think that that we've got a really good, good base there for for that sort of system that can support athletes no matter where they are across the country. And we as I say, we we work with the sports and with the institutes to make sure that we've got a really good balance about bringing together that critical mass, finding ways that in a more modern environment of really connecting the coaches, for example, to learn from one another. You know, what does that you know, what are those mentor relationships look like? What does it look like to be an apprentice coach in or scholarship coach? Different terminologies for somewhat the same thing. Because, you know, we can we can teach people a lot about coaching in a classroom, but it's not nearly enough. It's that opportunity to work with the greats who have built their art and craft combined with science, if you like, that really makes for an outstanding coach. And in this day and age, coaches are not enough to be a technical expert or a tactical expert. The biggest requirement that almost got to be given and what you need to have is people who are outstanding at dealing with individuals that are outstanding at developing those individuals and getting the best out of them, understanding how to communicate to them effectively, how to give them really effective feedback to be able to to guide them and collaborate with the athlete in order to to be able to help them to be the best.
Cam Tradell [00:18:31] It's no doubt about it. Definitely an exciting time. And that cohesive operating model with regards to some really clear roles and responsibilities and setting ourselves all up for success, I think is a really exciting prospect for Australian sport collectively, whether you live in the community, it's something to really sort of celebrate. But I also think something to really get behind and aspire to knowing the Brisbane Olympics is such an exciting prospect. Thanks very, very much for your time this afternoon, Peter. We really appreciate it. Thank you for joining me today. If you'd like to find out more about coaching and officiating or have any feedback or questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. My name is Cam Tradell and I look forward to you joining me for the next podcast in the Coaching and Officiating series.