HMMR Podcast Episode 87: The Mentor (with Kelvin Giles)

After decades coaching elite track and field and rugby, Kelvin Giles has turned his attention more recently to youth development. Kids are no longer learning how to move, and we need to address it from the ground in both our approach to training and coaches education. On this episode Giles joins us to discuss foundational movements, coaches education, the pillars of performance, advice to beginning coaches, and how national governing bodies can support performance.

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A former UK national coach, Giles has spent more than 40 years in the high performance sport environment in both England and Australia. He has coached 14 Olympic and World Championships competitors and many elite rugby players. He was head track and field coach at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra and Head of the Athletic Development department at the Queensland Academy of Sport in Brisbane. He spent six years at the helm of the Brisbane Broncos Rugby League team as Director of Performance and also led the Australian Rugby Union’s Elite Player Development section.

Currently he works as a mentor coach and to start the episode he shared a few tips for up and coming coaches:

Find a job where a loss on Saturday might get you sacked on Monday. That's pressure. @kbgiles Click To Tweet If it were about reps and sets a donkey could do it. It's about the soft skills of coaching. Click To Tweet If you are not coaching all 4 pillars of performance, don't be a coach. Go do something else. Click To Tweet

In a blog post last month he discussed the pillars of performance in more detail and also the elements of excellence:

There are four critical elements of repeatable excellence that are consistent (a) a committed athlete willing to sacrifice (b) a well-educated, open minded coach who is skilled across all 4 pillars of performance – Technical, Tactical (Arena), Physical, Mental (Behavioral) (c) a long term system of development from Community Well-being through Development onwards through Transition and on to High Performance (d) a reservoir of well-educated and open-minded service providers from Sports-Science, Sports Medicine, PE Teachers and Administrators.

High performance isn't complex, but I've never seen a NGB cover all the pillars of performance. Click To Tweet

Related to that point, he also shared his thoughts on coaches education and how Scottish Athletics has become a model federation in that regard:

How can we expect coaches to be open minded if their education isolates every part of training? Click To Tweet Don't assess coaches education by certificates or profits. Assess it by how you improve the sport. Click To Tweet I've stop criticizing youth coaches. They are volunteers; it's the NGBs that have failed them. Click To Tweet

To hear more from Giles, listen to the full episode above. Also be sure to subscribe to our podcast and review it on iTunes.

Further Reading

  • Don’t forget to join HMMR Plus. Sign up and you can also get access to webinars, online meetups, articles, our sports science newsletter, and more.
  • You can learn more from Giles on his blog and on Twitter (@kbgiles). He also has written a number of books available on his website.
  • If you are looking for a place to start, read his latest blog series reflecting on his career. Part 3 in particular offers some great insights.
  • The list of coaches Giles has mentored is quite impressive. We have spoken to a few on this site including former Japan Rugby coach John Pryor and former Golden State Warriors coach Lachlan Penfold.
  • Giles was instrumental in setting up the new Scottish coaching development program with Darren Ritchie. You can learn about the program here. Vern and I also presented at the Scottish Athletics conference this year and gave our thoughts on what they are doing in GAINcast 32.
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