"It's the most joyful feeling watching someone else having an awesome time on pitch because you helped them develop a particular skill that enabled them to do something great."
What's your background in Ultimate?
I've played ultimate for 7 years now and coached for 5.
I was frisbee born and bred in Brighton and played with Brighton Women and Brighton Breezy for 5 and 4 years respectively. I am currently playing my 2nd season with Iceni in London.
When in Brighton I coached various club trainings for around 3 years, Brighton women for 4 years and the University of Brighton for 4 years.
Outside of club I've played on a number of GB teams which is an amazing experience.
Where / who do you coach?
Most of my coaching experience comes from coaching university students.
Why do you coach Ultimate?
I think coaching is a skill that can both enhance your own development as a player and give you a far greater understanding of the game.
It's the most joyful feeling watching someone else having an awesome time on pitch because you helped them develop a particular skill that enabled them to do something great.
Coaching is challenging and you quickly realise how amazingly different people's learning styles are. Some are capable of picking up skills within hours of coaching, others take months of work. Both are rewarding in very different ways.
How did you start coaching?
I started when I was mixed captain for the University of Brighton team. I really, really wanted the team to qualify for the first time but I wasn't convinced we were playing enough together and working on our individual skills to earn a spot at nationals. We went down to a dog poo covered park in Brighton every Wednesday afternoon for 8 weeks and I did various skills and scenario based coaching. I mostly made it up as I went along but the time together was so enjoyable and we got so much extra playing time in that we did indeed qualify for nationals and came a cool third.
What do you enjoy most about coaching Ultimate?
I enjoy watching people work really hard to achieve something during training and then see them put it into practice during a game. It's such a great feeling and it becomes addictive!
What have you learnt from coaching Ultimate?
I believe your job as a coach is to make your time together with players enjoyable and your training worth coming to. Absolutely no one thrives off a negative learning environment and punishment based learning. It's not sustainable and can just make people feel crappy.
Telling people what they are good at should be at least 50% of the dialogue you have with a player. It's just as important to reinforce skills as it is to correct them with constructive criticism.
It is OK to feel disappointed in your team's performance but you have to learn to separate a win or a loss from the performance itself. It's all too easy to get wound up in the results of a tournament or a game, but coaching is not a process that is defined by the ranking your team receives. More important is the positive impact the experience has had on their life.
What’s been your coaching highlight to date?
I'm not sure I have a particular coaching highlight but I've had some very nice messages and emails from players that I've coached who have then got in touch to tell me that they did something great because of something I helped them with.
I enjoyed watching CamSam (University of Brighton, U23 Men, Brighton City, Mooncatchers) having amazing time at WUCC. I coached him as a student and that was pretty cool to see!
What are your top three tips for a new coach / getting started?
- It is absolutely more than OK to make it up as you go and learn on the job. No one picked up a disc for the first time and could throw it 70m with a perfect pivot. Don't expect your coaching journey to be easy.
- Your players will help you learn to be a better coach. Listen to what they say and accept that you will get things wrong and that you may have to go back on what you've previously said.
- Coaching can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be. Start off with some easier topics and then grow your coaching repertoire the more confident you become.
Any other tops tips?
Watch as much frisbee as you can. You don't have to dissect the nuances of every play, you can pick very simple things to watch during a game and learn from then.
It's important to remember that not every good player is a good coach and not every good coach is a good player. The two do not come hand in hand and you can excel at either one of those things, it doesn't have to be both.
What’s coming up next for you?
I'm potentially working with an organisation to run some Ultimate sessions for refugees. I'm also planning some youth work near where I am currently living so I can coach young people again!
I'd like to do some coaching with university teams in North London and am planning some development sessions for the winter.