Whither performance coaching

“A High Performance Coach has been appointed;” For the national rugby team which is to begin preparation for the A5N series. This was reported in the local press and discussed by the men of rugby. Most ask the question? “What is High Performance Coaching”? Is it something that a coach cannot do? Is it another name for the man in charge of all coaches?

People talk about coaching in the workplace as well as in sports. Whether coaching originated in the managerial field or in the sports arena is beside the point. The need is to move from coaching to what should be high performance coaching. Coaching is a useful way of developing people's skills and abilities, and of boosting performance. It can also help deal with issues and challenges before they become major problems.

Coaching as used in management is a relationship that helps people produce better results in their lives, careers, businesses or organizations. Sports coaches assist athletes in developing to their full potential. That is for training in a sport by analyzing their performances, instructing in relevant skills and by providing encouragement. The role of the coach will be many and varied. As games are lost, there is always a call to change the coach. He was responsible is the opinion of most. Hire a new coach while the other contributors to the loss are not addressed.

Brock Badgers men’s rugby coach Les Gilson, left the Badgers to take a position with Rugby Canada. Gilson joined Rugby Canada in the role of manager of High Performance after spending eight seasons with the Badgers including guiding the team to a 2007-08 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championship and three OUA bronze medals.

The replacement of a coach is like replacing the engine when a worn down car does not perform. You replace the engine for better performance while all else remains same. The new engine runs really well but the rest of the car cannot support. Next time too do you change the engine as the performance is not what you expected?

We may know but, we pretended not to identify that the fault is not always with the coach. It might be culture, attitude, and lack of passion etc: that does not make the players perform to the best of their ability.

Today we talk of this new animal: “The High Performance Coach.” It is not new ideas that suddenly sprout, but what has been talked and practiced in sports as well as management. It is about helping people reach their full potential, in any area of their lives. For the manager as coach, this means working with people to improve their performance at work. As sport s coach it is about “the passion to prepare being greater than the talent or the motivation an athlete has.

Japan is a country in our region that has taken high performance seriously. The High performance commission is headed by Professor Yuichi Ueno Dean of Sport Science of the Ryutsu Keizai University of Japan. The programme which started around 3 years ago has as its objective to Advance to the Quarter Final in the Rugby World Cup in 2011. This is no short term project thinking of a tournament due in 2 or 3 months. Backed by the IRB, the programme’s aim is to develop players, coaches, referees, competitions & administrators to achieve the desired goal.

For players there are three development programmes. The Samoa the high performance programme , rated high by the IRB, is concerned with developing highly skilled and well conditioned players, offering regular and quality international competition opportunities, or creating a high performance culture where players are mentally attuned. This involves the inculcation of passion to excel than the carrying out of work loads.

High performance units is a common reality in almost all major rugby playing countries, such as England, Australia Fiji New Zealand etc; that want to stay on top.

It is in this scene that the high performance coach steps in. To extract the best of the human talent that is availed in the sport of Rugby. This involves quality coaching that will enable the player to engage himself fully to embrace excellence in what they do. The mind, body, heart and soul put together to drive the unrelenting desire to be the best. This requires attitude to use ability, grit to replace physique, and to convert potential to performance.

In sport we see the success and the also ran. The poor attitude and low on talent who rarely go anywhere and probably ends playing a few schools matches. Then we have poor attitudes with high talent and the high attitudes with low talent. These are what have to be turned to stars. That is to be high attitude and high talent. Winning is not about having the best ground, the best gym and the best coach. It is about attitude to perform. That has and continues to be the down fall has to be addressed and sorted in high performance coaching.

In the past we have had many attitude issues whether it is selection, captaincy or attending practices, issues that have been a cancer that has so far not been resolved. Almost at all levels of the game this persists and has to be addressed from a holistic and long term approach. Or else it will be another label which has been attached as you heard or read about the use elsewhere.

Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB

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