Powering up the coaches

Like teaching someone to fish instead of giving them a fish to eat, so powering up SA’s coaches seems more clever than trying to reach every single individual athlete.

Tank Lanning

Instead of hosting my traditional Sunday braai this weekend, I gave it up in order to attend the Powerade Performance Academy at the Sports Science Institute. Like farting against thunder, this day in a conference seat was seriously up against it. But like Wade van Niekerk and Luvo Manyonga, this little sucker overcame massive adversity to deliver when it counted!

Hosted by SuperSport’s Neil Andrews, a number of high profile performance experts ran an informative and interactive seminar:

  • Paddy Upton: IPL Delhi Daredevils coach;
  • Fabian Gregory: head coach of the SA Men’s Hockey team;
  • Zac van Heerden: former conditioning specialist and physiologist for Mamelodi  Sundowns and the Portuguese National Football Team;
  • Tom Dawson-Squibb: mental coach for The Stormers, Sharks,  Ajax Cape Town and The SA ladies golf and rugby teams.

Key themes covered on the day included: leadership, physical conditioning and injury management, sports vision and the power of performance.

“If your team took 60 from the opposition in round 1 of the season, is it realistic to ask them to bounce back and beat them in round 2,” asks Dawson-Squibb. Probably not, so instead of asking the impossible, set a few achievable goals that he calls the “Plus 1” strategy. Put in a big hit on their biggest guy, get one tighthead, steal 1 lineout ball, prevent them from scoring more than 3 tries. That way, even if you lose, your guys come out having achieved mini “wins”. And from there you build via achieving your “Plus 1” goals.

The first thing Upton did when he joined the Sydney Thunders? Release Michael Clarke and Dave Warner from their contracts. Why? You simply cannot build teams around big ego type characters. Teams are a collective, not an orbit around an ego or three.

Upton reckons both business and sport are stuck in the old fashioned “Instruction” mode, but with the advent of the Internet and Siri, it’s time to move onto “Fellow Adult” mode and create intelligent athletes. Learning, he reckons, is created from Playing, Reflecting, Analyzing and Planning, and Practicing … Right now players play and practice while the coaches reflect, analyse and plan … Collective intelligence requires both coaches and players to be involved in all 4 phases … Otherwise all we do is create robots with no game IQ.

A coach does not need to have the answer to everything, says Upton, he needs to create the environment that delivers the best answer.

It was a day that really piqued my interest …

Over the years, Powerade has sustained its commitment to young South African sportsmen by providing them with the necessary platforms to achieve their ultimate sporting goals. In line with this commitment, they have focussed much of their focus on school coaches in recognition of their role as primary influencers of the next generation of South Africa’s sporting heroes. It’s a clever strategy!

“What a great insightful & informative day with some of the most knowledgeable individuals who are currently at the top of their game. The entire Powerade Performance Academy has been completely inspiring and I hope that I can use the tools provided at the academy to help not only myself as a coach but to also help my player’s and increase their sporting performances and in turn create opportunities for them to grow and compete at an optimal level”, said Alan Willows, performance coach at SACS.

“The Powerade Performance Academy is such a great concept, from a personal perspective I wish there was something like this around when I was a young coach. The guidance and support that these coaches receive will go a long way to help them grow as coaches and help their young athletes. There has been a great focus on high performance, and some really amazing endorsers speaking on a number of spheres. I have no doubt that the coaches will benefit in a big way, just a wonderful experience all around”, explained Gregory.

Sapna Naran, Powerade Brand Manager, Coca-Cola Africa, commented, “We want to show our support of coaches by empowering them, through the Powerade Performance Academies, with knowledge of the best coaching practises from around the world, which they can now apply to the betterment of their players.”

Powerade will host one further Performance Academy in Johannesburg/Pretoria at the end of August and I suggest getting in the mix if you can.

A few pics from Sunday:

Powerade 6

Powerade 5

Powerade 3

Powerade 2

Powerade 1