"Just go for it, enjoy it and make it fun for everyone!"
What's your background in Ultimate?
I started playing in 2006 at the University of Sheffield before I moved to London to do my PhD at Imperial College in 2010 and this is where my club playing started with Tooting Tigers and Flump. During my final uni years I also coached the Men's team (to it's then best finish at both indoors and outdoors) and started to see how having external thought and help is super useful at that level but hadn't seen many coaches at a club level yet.
In parallel I started theShowGame with Josh Coxon Kelly and this afforded me to watch, analyse and comment on a lot of ultimate all the way up to World WFDF events and hence see how other nations and clubs worked, played and coached to be the best at our sport.
After the 2016 season I felt very burnt out and had been talking to Claire Baker about coaching Imperial Women in the last hurrah for that iteration of students, with the hope of doing well. It turned out very well and again I learnt a lot and since have taken on co-coaching SYC this season also.
I still play with my French team Iznogood and when I can help running theShowGame.
Where / who do you coach?
With the uni season over I am focusing on coaching SYC once or twice week, plus attending various events with the team.
Why do you coach Ultimate?
One of the main drivers for me is that I believe we have an issue in the UK that players think they can manage, play and coach their teams all at once. In my opinion, this view has been shown to be wrong on every level from juniors up to senior national teams. And yet it seems that we keep making this same mistake, in part based on numbers: there simply aren't enough coaches. Couple this with so many players retiring every year and taking with them valuable knowledge, I wanted to give something back to the community that has given me so much over the last decade. I chose the women's division since it appears the most open to this view. This division also seems to be fostering coaching leaders; I want to get to the point where men have to fight with women for coaching spots.
What do you enjoy most about coaching Ultimate? (What do you love about coaching ultimate)?
I enjoy getting that relationship with the team members and leaders, being on the same page and then seeing what you are trying to implement take off. Sometimes it doesn't work and you have to be open to that feedback but then adjustments are made and hopefully you can keep going upwards to your goal or further. I am constantly learning and being challenged and that is so valuable for my own growth as a person and coach. I can only hope that at the end of every season my players feel they have got something out of it and that I am valuable to the team.
What’s been your coaching highlight to date?
As an overall result this past uni season with Imperial was amazing: 2 regional titles (indoors and outdoors) and the BUCS Outdoor title, with so many on and off pitch moments. One of my favourite direct coaching highlights was at Indoor Nationals. Our general team was more preferential to indoors so we used that to build connections and at one point I am stood behind a handler with the disc and I quietly suggest that she throw a pitch length throw to one of our end zone players - why not?! Not only did she do it, but she threw a high arcing knife and it completed. Loved that she trusted me but also that she felt comfortable in that space to take on a potentially less than 100% shot, it was baller!
What are your top three tips for a new coach / getting started?
- To ensure buy in from all team members be as transparent as possible - tell them what you plan to do at sessions, tactically etc
- Get to know what players you have and what they can do, what they want to do and where they might fit into the team (watch footage, talk to them, watch them and take lots of notes)
- Don't shy away from feedback, questions or concerns - you are not always right and if you are not sure then if you have done tip 1 you will have plenty of resources around you
Any other tops tips?
Plan as much as you can early on
Just go for it, enjoy it and make it fun for everyone
What’s coming up next for you?
I recently played French Nationals, now it's the EUCS series with SYC so a lot of time is focussed right now on ironing out some wrinkles and being ready to take on UKU Nationals. Also I am talking to a couple uni teams about coaching next season already which is super exciting, I love the forward thinking from these committees! I am also very keen to get a club player come help me with uni teams so any budding women out there please contact me ;)