By Chris Bullen, HP Coaching Team, High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ)
Recently, the Board of High Performance Sport NZ signed off on an eight-year High Performance Coaching Plan.
The plan is dedicated to ensuring that our high performance athletes have the coaching they need to win medals at Olympics, Paralympics and World Championships.
Key to delivering on this is a culture in HP Coaching that recognises the need to perform here and now, but at the same purposefully develop the people, systems and processes that will see New Zealand winning tomorrow.
We will know that we’ve been successful when we have significantly greater numbers (not just the handful we have now) of coaches whose athletes and teams have won multiple medals at multiple Olympic, Paralympics and World Championships.
From their leadership and success, peer coaches, the next generation of coaches and HP support staff will significantly grow their understanding of what it takes to win repeatedly. This is what the legacy of our great coaches will look like.
To make this happen, we need to leverage off a huge strength of ours which other countries struggle to replicate. As a small country where we know each other, where we are willing to innovate and where we are humble, we have shown that we can collaborate to deliver results beyond expectations.
If we are to create a legacy of sustained success for New Zealand athletes, then sport leaders, coaches and HP support staff will need to collaborate to ensure that the environment for coaches gets the best out of them in the short term, and encourages them to continue to learn and develop over time.
At the heart of this is the belief that coaches lead. Currently there are some challenges around this — coaches need greater capability to lead, they need to be supported in their leadership development, and the people around them need to provide the scope and the space for them to lead. In doing this, we will significantly increase the chances of athletes performing better, and HP coaches developing the confidence and skills they need.
Developing leadership takes time –in fact, developing great coaches takes as much time, commitment and focus as developing great athletes.
Our most successful current and recent coaches such as The All Black coaching team, Dick Tonks (Rowing), Ruth Aitken (Silver Ferns), and Grant Beck (Board sailing) reflect that. They have all been coaches for years and have been at the peak of their skills towards the end of their careers, not at the start! This is a simple but powerful observation that National Sport Organisations must factor in to their plans to develop their coaches.
High Performance Sport NZ will continue to commit to the performance and development of New Zealand’s HP coaches through the Coach Performance Programme. While it is regrettable that resources limit the scope of the programme mainly to coaches from High Performance Sport NZ’s targeted sports and those funded through contestable investments, the learning from this programme can be shared across sports and the lessons apply to all.
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