June 2024, Articles

Kia Manawanui helping prepare Kiwi surfing coach for Olympics

A satellite programme sitting alongside HPSNZ’s Kia Manawanui coaching group is providing New Zealand’s Olympic surfing coach Matt Scorringe with skills and competencies which he believes will not only help his long term development, but also pay dividends for his surfing charges as they face the massive Teahupo’o wave in Tahiti next month.

Matt is one of seven coaches who are part of the Kia Manawanui satellite group led by long time HP coaching consultant Richard Smith. The group operates primarily through an online programme for coaches aspiring to become part of a future residential cohort.

Richard has helped set up a series of online engagements for the satellite group including each member ‘hosting’ an online session as well as joining their residential colleagues in person when the hosting events were in their town.  He also spends time with each person individually to provide feedback on planning and critiques of their approach.

“The satellite concept is new but already we know it is a valued programme based on the feedback we’re receiving so far,” says Richard.

“We know our satellite coaches really appreciate the support they receive as well as the all-important cross sport learnings and networks.”

For Matt joining the last Kia Manawanui hosting session which was held in Mount Maunganui, including presenting to the group along with athletics coach James Mortimer, speed climbing’s Rob Moore and diving coach James Hardaker, was a real highlight.

“The whole satellite programme has been a fantastic learning experience and a real highlight for me was presenting in person to the wider Kia Manawanui group.  This gave me a big confidence boost especially presenting to a group of experienced coaches who are a little further on their coaching journey,” says Matt.

Matt also says the feedback throughout the course from Richard and the other coaches has been invaluable.  “It has given me a lot of confidence, especially around building a team culture in an individual sport.”

In terms of helping with his Olympic build up Matt says the session with HPSNZ Te Tūāpapa Coach Accelerator lead, Christian Penny, has provided him with knowledge and coaching tools which he is using in his coaching sessions with Olympic surfers Billy Stairmand, who is heading to his second Olympics, and debutante Saffi Vette.

“Christian’s sessions provided me with some very good challenges, most particularly how to open my mind to different ways to connect with my athletes.

“Previously my relationships with my athletes were very personal which I used to build trust.  The session helped me learn to shift to coach mode more often to build trust and challenged me to use a different lens and provided me with the tools and confidence to have difficult conversations.”

Matt is expecting his coaching experience for Paris 2024 to be quite different from his first Olympics.  “That first Olympic cycle was a bit of a honeymoon period and I can definitely feel this second cycle is proving to be more of a challenge.

“My focus with Saffi in the lead up is technical to help give her the skills to deal with the Teahupo’o wave whereas Billy has surfed similar waves a little more so a lot of our attention is on his mental preparation and understanding the line up at Teauhupo’o.

“There will be a lot of fear and anxiety because of the wave which can hold a surfer back.  I’m fortunate that I have a background of chasing and surfing similar waves during my free surfing career which helps build trust with my athletes, knowing I’ve surfed these types of waves and still love it.”

A key part of the Kia Manawanui satellite group programme is enabling Matt to work on his own coaching growth so that he will be a better coach when he heads into the next Olympic cycle and as he works to build his coaching business.

“Because surfing is a relatively small sport I’m only contracted campaign to campaign for the Olympics but my ambition is to build a strong coaching business over and above my involvement with a pinnacle event.  I’d love to be part of the full Kia Manawanui programme as I believe that will be instrumental in helping me achieve my goals.”

Olympic surfing coach Matt Scorringe in action at the 2023 National Surf Champs