When Great Britain’s field hockey team won the gold medal at the 2016 Olympics, coach Danny Kerry had a lot to be happy about. Over the course of the prior eight years his team had finished five spots higher. But it was Kerry himself who had perhaps an ever bigger transformation. He had changed from a tactical-obsessed coach ready to quit into a culture-focussed coach ready for more. On this episode of the GAINcast Kerry joins us to discuss how his coaching philosophy has evolved, and how he has put that philosophy into practice in terms of creating a team culture and better designing training sessions.
Notes and quotes
Kerry is a very reflective coach, and throughout the podcast he talked about different parts of his career, what the results were, and, most importantly, what he needed to do next to get better. For example after a successful run at the 2008 Olympics his feedback helped him realized he had focused too much on the technical and tactical without focusing as much on the art of coaching, building culture, and strengthening relationships. Throughout the podcast he gives examples of how he tried to implement new approaches in areas like team culture, mental preparation, and practice design. The changes took his team to new heights, but it also took him to new heights by winning accolades such as UK Coaching’s High Performance Coach of the Year.
Coaching and culture
- 3:45 – Kerry’s coaching journey.
- 10:00 – Kerry’s coaching philosophy:
- Understanding yourself and others: “In order to lead others you have to be able to lead and understand yourself first. “
- Culture: “Culture preceeds performance; culture requires constant review and development. “
- Specificity: “You can’t adapt to an environment you don’t inhabit. “
- 13:30 – How Kerry’s philosophy has evolved.
- 16:15 – What is the essence of team culture? “Understand your values and attitudes and ensure those values and attitudes are embedded into session design; if your value is finding a way to win, embed that in training design. “
- 18:00 – Creating ownership and accountability for team culture.
- 20:45 – Refining team culture and turning it into a tradition.
- 24:30 – Dealing with pressure. “Pressure comes from where you have a lack of control in events that are very important to you. ” “You handle pressure through preparation and belief in the preparation. “
- 27:00 – Adjust to heart attack and how coaches handle stress.
- 30:30 – The temprement of a champion and what he looks for in incoming athletes. What sets the top athletes apart is a belief in their abilities based on their preparations. The passion is used to motivate them rather than create anxiety. – There is nothing more certain that there will be a constant series of setbacks over the years, and we alooking for people who will keep getting up and get going again.
- 33:15 – Social difference sin coaching men vs. women. “It is taboo to compare men and women; but there is a difference. My experience is that men get task cohesion; women get social cohesion. “
- 37:00 – Biological differences in coaching men vs. women.
- 38:00 – Specificity of practice
- 39:00 – Behind “Thinking Thursday” sessions. “Thinking Thursday aims for self-reflection and forcing athletes to constantly self-organize around problems we’ve designed into the environment. “
- 40:30 – Behind “Tactical Tuesday” sessions.
- 41:15 – How thinking thursday is set up.
- 44:30 – Advice to young coaches.
- 46:45 – What Kerry is doing for self-improvement.
To hear more about these topics you can listen to the full episode above. If you like what you hear on the GAINcast, don’t forget to give us a review and subscribe on iTunes.
The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic:
- Don’t forget to join HMMR Plus. Sign up and get access to numerous webinars, online meetups, articles, our sports science newsletter, and more. We are also brought to you by the GAIN Network.
- You can learn more about GB Hockey on their webpage, including Kerry’s full biography. You can also find Kerry on Twitter at @Danny_Kerry.
- Several presentations and interviews from Kerry are online. You can view his presentation from IFAC on Youtube. There are also good videos from Risky Business and Connected Coaches.
- For more on team culture we recommend you check out past episodes like GAINcast 90 with Clay Erro and GAINcast 66 with Chris Webb.