Spracklen at the NZ Coaches’ Conference


Duncan Holland writes:

I am rushing this out the morning after the night before. Yesterday was a big day at the NZRowing Coaches Conference with a full programme of speakers and then the social highlight, a banquet in the Beehive. The after dinner speaker was Richard Tonks, head coach for NZRowing.

The major individual speaker yesterday was Mike Spracklen and he gave us the first of the three presentations we will have from him this weekend. Yesterday Mike spoke about the role of the coach and how to lead. He made repeated mention of ethics and standards and hammered the point that a good leader must base her / his behaviour on a sound ethical and philosophical basis.

I am too slow a note-taker to write much of what he said but the following are points that resonated particularly for me:

  • Disharmony is inevitable amongst athletes and authoritys reaction is often to make rules. This leads to evaporating trust and the coach gets caught in the middle.
  • Squabbles between leaders are behind most trouble in sport.
  • If you tell the truth you dont need a good memory.
  • Base your behaviour on values not feelings.
  • The two key attributes of a coach are the ability to inspire trust and confidence and the ability to communicate a vision.

It was clear that Mike sees himself very much as a leader of men, as the guru in the group and that Canadian Rowing has given him the space to fulfil this role. The results are there for us all to see.

  • Today Mike talks about technique and about Fairbairn.
  • More soon
  • Duncan

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Murray McLeod-Jones

    Duncan, really interested to read this as I think there has been some confusion within the coaching world generally about what coaches do and how they should behave. I hold the view that the coach is a leader and as such has to be very careful about how they behave with the group of athletes. But their behaviour is rooted in their Values and how they feel about those values, in simple terms Think, Feel, Do. Your values are the moral compass that guides your behaviour throughout your life and when making difficult decisions I always judge what I am going to do against my value set. That way I seldom go far wrong. The orgnisation that I work for has a leadership development programme called ‘Values Based Leadership’ which deals in leadership and performance. We started it some time ago as there was a training gap in our leaders who were instinctively trying to do the right thing but needed a framework to help them. There is also mention of setting the vision and being inspirational. How key those points are, without the vision how does anyone know what they are trying to acheive ? Without being inspirational how to do you get an athlete to buy into the overall vision and give their all to acheive it? With difficulty. I think we as a sport should spend time developing the leadership attitudes, knowledge and skills of our coaches so they have more Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and can really get the best out of the athletes. Whilst none of this is startlingly new, it amazes me that the sport have not invested in this aspect more heavily. How many people have been put off a sport by a poor coach? Not someone with a low techincal ability but someone who does not understand people. Anyway food for thought, hope the rest of the conference is as thought provoking. Regards Murray

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