What brought you into coaching?
My younger brother. No one wanted to coach his team, the parents of the team knew that I played so they asked me to do it! I was only 13yo, but absolutely loved it!
What were your original thoughts when you moved into coaching?
It was such a long time ago! 😊 I was really excited! I was constantly learning as a player, and the opportunity to pass that on to others was great. Even at that young age, I was always thinking of ways of improving how I was coached, and I wanted to give the teams that I was coaching a better foundation in our sport than what I had been given. That’s not a criticism of my coaches, it’s just a reflection of my passion to always strive for better!
What did you find most interesting to learn as a coach?
Being a coach, you need to be on a constant learning journey. I haven’t coached a player, a team or a season that was the same as another, so continual learning is a must! The first thing I learnt is that I do NOT coach basketball… I coach PEOPLE! It’s so much more than Xs & Os! Anyone can pick up a book of drills and replicate that on the court, but connecting with the person in front of you, understanding their motivations and goals, and providing them with the environment in which they can thrive is a much tougher job. It’s that privileged opportunity, and challenge, that keeps me in the coaching game. So, the day I stop learning, is the day I will stop coaching!
What was the most rewarding part of your coaching journey so far?
Again, it’s the people! To see someone, of any age, improve and move towards their personal goals, is the ultimate reward. I have won championships and seen players I have worked with move on to represent their country, which has been amazing, but that’s just a bi-product of people achieving their own personal goals. We are not all destined to play international basketball, and for many it’s not even an aspiration. Seeing someone smile because they have achieved what they set out to do, it’s simple the best, and sometimes those goals are not even basketball related.
Which parts of coaching do you like the most?
I love seeing people grow! I love helping people to improve physically on the court, but I really get a buzz out of seeing people grow mentally. Athletic ability and fundamental skills are important, but they fade into insignificance if players lack basketball IQ and the ability to make good decisions on the court. Decision-making, responsibility, teamwork and sportsmanship are life skills that players can take with them for the rest of their lives, both on and off the court.
Where are you now? How are you using your coaching skills?
That first decision at age 13 has ended up shaping my professional career. I have always worked in a people development role. Currently, I am the Head of Workforce at UK Coaching, where my focus is on developing people that develop coaches. I am using my lifelong learning skills I have got from coaching, to better understand what coaches need, to better inform what we need from our coach educators and developers. With every interaction I have through my work, I am utilising my coaching skills to help others achieve their goals in their context.
What is your coaching niche and why did you choose it?
I’m not sure if it’s a niche, but I would have to say, people development. To me, age, gender, level of basketball etc is irrelevant. If the personal in front of me has a purpose for being on the court, has something they want to achieve, I love joining them on that journey, and helping them realise their potential.
What is your favourite coaching question from athletes?
Any question that started with ‘How can I…’ or ‘I want to…’. I strive to empower my players to take ownership over their own development, so any question where a player is wanting to explore their own limits excites me! As coaches, we don’t need to be the font of all knowledge, and the expert on everything, quite often players already knows what needs to be done, they just don’t realise it. I enjoy helping a player to realise their own solutions.
What advice do you have for those coaches currently in training?
Don’t stop! Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking ‘I’ve got my qualification, I now know everything I need to know!’ You don’t! Remain an open book! Every session, every game, every season, you will find learning opportunities if you are open to it. You will learn from your players, their parents, their partners, other coaches in your club, coaches from other sports, even non-sport related things can help you with your coaching. Learn about people, not just Xs and Os! As basketball coaches, we are a small community, let’s keep competition on the court and use the rest of our time to work together to make each other better. At the end of the day, we are all here for the sport, and the people within it. By supporting each other, the sport and the players will all benefit the most.
What legacy would you like to leave behind you?
My only hope is that everyone I have the pleasure of working with, achieves their goals, and that they retain a love of our sport. I hope the journey we share benefits them both on and off the court. We are one of the few sports that can be played across a person’s entire life span, and I hope that everyone I coach, continues playing basketball, competitively or socially, for the rest of their lives.