The 2018 Powerade Performance Academy celebrates everyday coaches and will focus on giving credit to everyday ‘ordinary’ coaches who have done extraordinary things by refining the young talent that eventually goes on to perform on the world stage.
Recently, Powerade Performance Academy at NMMU saw former Protea’s coach, Gary Kirsten, appealing to school coaches about coaching for the right reasons. The reasons he mentioned were to include seeking to develop players as people that believe in the team’s culture, purpose, focusing on the players and not on solely winning games.
Kirsten appealed to coaches who were present on the day to coach their players in a similar way they would like to be coached. “If you learn something new from another coach or from the players, blend it in your way of coaching to see if it would work”. Kirsten alludes that “Coaches should not solemnly focus on results, such as winning games, however should focus on doing justice to the team by identifying the player’s individual strengths, weaknesses and arrears of improvement. If coaches do not adopt a proactive approach it can lead into their team losing games, they could have potentially won.”
Kirsten recognises “There is a huge pressure in schools for the teams to perform and win. Nevertheless, coaches must first grow the individual and only when the individual has shown tremendous growth, the coaches can eventually begin to look at winning which would in turn boost the team’s morale. Winning is the result of all the hard work, determination and patience coaches have for their players and that is a recipe for a successful team,” he said.
Sharing his thoughts on leadership Kirsten believes the coach is responsible for the shared sense of purpose and culture. “There are negotiables in a team and there are non-negotiables, as a coach needs to establish what is not negotiable and get the team to believe the vision and goal. Coaches ought to have the ability to influence their players to individually look at what they are doing daily and find out what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong.
Each player in the team needs to change something they do so they can get a different result. If the coaches keep on doing the same things that they did in the past, they cannot expect to get a different result. A team needs a common goal that everyone understands and is aligned to the team’s core objectives. This is because a team will not work well if everyone has different goals. It is important to note that the team goals always come before personal goals and this is one of the non-negotiables to be instilled in a team.”
Kirsten strongly convicted in equipping the players to think for themselves on the field, in preparing a team to adapt to a complex unpredictable environment instead of following a plan. He remarks “You cannot foresee everything, so teaching players the basics and preparing them to adapt to complex situations in a match. At practice you can go through the basics of the game, but coaches cannot predict everything in a match, therefore coaches need to prepare the players to judge situations for themselves and make their own decisions especially those that aren’t in their favour. Coaches are not doing the players justice if they make all decisions and shout instructions from the side of the field.”
Coaches are often criticised, and it’s not always easy to take it, especially when you have worked hard to get the team to perform well. A coach needs to be able to take constructive criticism from the correct channels. “Don’t let your ego determine what’s best for the team, this can destroy the efforts already made to ensure the team reaches its full potential” Kirsten said.
To be a successful leader or a coach one needs to understand that he/she has direct input in the player’s lives, which can help them set up common goals that are aligned to the core team values. “If I were to list the values they would include: never cheat to get a result; always play the game in the right way and in the right spirit,” he said. In his last remarks Kirsten says, “Players need to trust their coaches and they should understand that trust is built through integrity, approachability, humility and empathy.”
The next leg of Powerade Performance Academies will take place in Cape Town (September) and Johannesburg (November).