Callum Spiers

"I believe wholeheartedly the world would be a better place if more people played Ultimate."

What's your background in Ultimate?

I got interested in the sport from seeing it in the back of a school Design Technology textbook, then watching Brodie Smith youtube videos in the summer before starting university. I started playing in 2011 as first year at university of York. I didn't take to it naturally, I got pushed by friends into coming to training more than once a fortnight and over the first summer of university pushed myself hard to improve. Second year I was a faithful attendee of every university training and worked my way to the university first team. From then, I was part of forming the club SMOG in 2013, which started as a university fun team.

Before SMOG got going as a club, I played club seasons with LeedsLeedsLeeds, Vision and Manchester ultimate. Training regularly with club teams helped me to get onto GB u23 Mixed team in 2015, competing at WU23 in London. By this time, I was interested in coaching, having experienced a variety of different coaching styles across the different teams I'd played with and at different events I'd been to. In winter 2015, I started coaching the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) professionally twice a week. I also applied to coach the GB U24 Development Programme 2016/7 and GB U24 Mixed 2018, and ended up being successful.

It was the highest level I'd ever coached and it was fantastic to learn from the men's and women's coaching teams throughout the cycle. This experience gave me the confidence to apply to run GB U24 Mixed again this year, as well as to be assistant coach for GB Women and even support coach for GB Beach Women at EBUC 2019.

I'm passionate about Ultimate and have constantly looked for opportunities to be involved in the sport. I've been involving in filming Ultimate, notably as part of the media team at the world championships 2016 and I played at the world beach championships as part of Currier Island in 2017. I think the sport has a lot to offer people in simple terms - fun, friends and fitness - but also at a deeper level: I've learnt about conflict resolution, working with others, mental toughness and developed spreadsheet skills too! I believe wholeheartedly the world would be a better place if more people played Ultimate.

Where / who do you coach?

I still coach at UCLan and am currently involved with coaching GB U24 Mixed until July 2019 and GB Women until 2020.

Why do you coach Ultimate?

I coach Ultimate because I like to teach and I'm passionate about developing skills and confidence in others. I think I'm also drawn to the tactics of the game and I like to play strategically.

How did you start coaching?

Growing up, I did a lot of music teaching. At university I think this contributed to my desire to help coach beginners at the club. I did a UKU level 1 coaching course in my third year of university, which really helped give me a basis to start coaching from.

What do you enjoy most about coaching Ultimate?

I enjoy seeing progression and improvement in players. With the right work ethic, anyone at any tier can vastly upgrade their game quickly and I like being part of that process.

What’s been your coaching highlight to date?

GB u24 Mixed in 2018 was the first GB team that I coached from scratch, with the help of Alex Mazzon. I am proud of all of the players on that team, the performances they delivered and seeing those players continue to shine.

What are your top three tips for a new coach / getting started?

If you are getting started, take every opportunity to coach. You'll not ever be perfect so don't worry too much about whether your advice is perfect or not, especially to start off with. You'll learn what works and what doesn't in time.

Be yourself. You don't have to live up to someone else's standard of what a coach looks like. Your coaching should look like you.

Ask for feedback and advice from everyone. If you get positive feedback (mostly you will), you'll feel more confident; if you get constructive feedback, you'll know how to improve!

What have you learnt from coaching?

The more you do stuff, the better you get. I have taken most opportunities that have come my way and I'm grateful I've been able to do that. Life lesson wise, my hero Mauricio Moore (another Ultimate coach in Colombia) summed up sport as a microcosm of real life. We learn about life through sport, and coaching sport has helped me to understand about life's trials and tribulations. I think I'm passionate about Ultimate because I'm keen for everyone to experience life through the lens of Ultimate - teaching fair play, tolerance, respect and the basic joy of frisbees!

Any other top tips?

Trainings should be fun and competitive. I like to convert drills into games to kill two birds with one stone. If you set up conditions for players to win (or lose), your players' focus and effort levels will increase. Casual players like to have fun, competitive players like to compete. Find a balance!

What’s coming up next for you?

I'm looking forward to being part of GB Women's campaign at the European championships in Hungary and then coaching GB u24 Mixed through the World u24 championships a week later!