June 2023, Articles

The complex art of simplifying coaching

From the complexity of the horse and rider relationship to the challenges of a squash court’s confines, participants in the second Kia Manawanui workshop were challenged to simplify the most critical performance factors.

Teaching coaches how to simplify was the key focus of the three-day campaign performance planning workshop with event hosts, equestrian national coach Helaan Tompkins and squash high performance coach Glen Wilson, using insights from their sports to deliver cross-sport learnings for the wider group of participants.

The campaign performance planning theme was reinforced by guest speaker, All Blacks coach Ian Foster, who shared insights into the team’s preparations for this year’s Rugby World Cup and by HPSNZ’s Craig Palmer, formerly Cycling NZ endurance coach, who drew a link with cycling’s team and individual successes in Tokyo and Ian’s messaging.

HPSNZ Head of Coaching and Kia Manawanui lead, Daryl Gibson, describes the overall workshop as quite simply ‘cool’.  “It was a real privilege to witness the very best athletes in New Zealand working with our national coaches.  We gained a real insight into the increasingly demonstrable value of athlete performance improving through coaches getting better and better.”

The two hosting events, a unique feature of Kia Manawanui, could not have been more different, says Daryl.

“On the one hand we experienced the complexity that Helaan faces everyday coaching horse and rider and the unique factors that creates.”

“On the other hand, coaching our leading squash players in singles and doubles has its own set of challenges for Glen who coached Paul Coll and Joelle King’s doubles campaigns in Birmingham last year.  He’s now focussing on the next generation of squash players such as Temwa Chileshe and Mason Smales, with an eye to their campaign performance planning for the 2026 Commonwealth Games.”

Kia Manawanui observers join Glen Wilson and his athletes on court

While Daryl says the coach hosting events are proving an extremely popular and important part of Kia Manawanui, it is the debrief sessions after which produce the gold nuggets.  “The hosted coaching sessions provide fantastic data to stimulate discussions based on observations and the opportunity to engage with each other.

“We asked the programme participants to identify one to two things only that will impact performance and to spend time in self-reflection on how they will impact their own coaching experience.”

Daryl is quick to send a shout out to several people involved in the recent workshop, including the All Blacks coach.  “We were extremely fortunate to have Ian share his experiences in campaign performance planning and he was incredibly generous with his time.

“The effort Helaan put into hosting her session was impressive with the immense logistics of horses, riders and coaching arena.  We were privileged to watch her coach three of our leading equestrian riders and horses, Zoie Gray and Spencer, Brittany Fowler on Moose and Laura Bellamy riding Brizzy.”

“Glen’s insights from his Commonwealth Games campaign and how he is applying those to his up and coming charges was also impressive.

“For me the workshop exemplified the very best in what I consider to be an increasingly collegial coaching spirit which can only further develop and benefit our coaches and the athletes they support.”

Helaan Tompkins explains her coaching approach with the Kia Manawanui group