Rowperfect met Thor Neilson the FISA Development Director at his offices in Seville. He kindly allowed us to interview him about his experiences and he gave us some great advice for coaches.
Q: Do you have any advice for club coaches?
A: Develop the eye to see and don’t be too static in your way of thinking. Remember, what is good for one [athlete] is not necessarily good for another one. Our bodies are different. You can select people who look similar but if you are in a club you have to take whoever turns up.
It is different if you are a national coach – then you have the pick of the crop.
Q: What is important for a coach who wishes to improve his own coaching?
A: The main thing for anyone is to accept that there are different steps of development – both for you and for your athletes. Be aware of that.
With a little knowledge [some coaches] think they know everything. Be open-minded and understand that coaching is a process that you have to learn.
Q: Where can a coach have influence?
A: Have respect for what you are doing and understand your responsibility. Young people are coming to you and you are guiding them. If it is kids you are also a role-model for them. As a coach you sometimes have more influence on their lives than their parents.
This sometimes isn’t taken into consideration. Understand this and accept that it is a process of learning – you don’t “get it” overnight.
Q: And your over-riding advice for all coaches?
A: Be careful because you don’t have all the answers. Do have opinions – that is good but understand the learning process.