Peter Wright (Rodders)
"Coaching is a great personal challenge for me."
What's your background in Ultimate?
I started playing at the University of York in 1999. Following this, chronologically-ish, I played for LLLeeds (from their inception and at the time when they were regularly making finals), Chevron Action Flash (in the World Clubs, Hawaii year/squad in 2002), Fire of London (where I was captain for several seasons, including the Tour-winning one) and a year at Clapham. Over this period of time I played GB open for 2 Euros/Worlds cycles, getting two Gold medals at the Euros events and a 4th place at Worlds in 2008, and played at World Games in Taiwan in 2009.
Who do you coach and how did you get started?
I was a de facto coach when I was captaining Fire of London, and I also did some coaching at the Sixth Form college that I teach at - Tom "Mum" Abrams and Matt "Smatt" Hodgson are amongst those that I taught the game to. Following a decent stint of time away from the sport due to a career-ending knee injury, I started coaching Guildford Mixed at the end of 2017 and have been doing that ever since. Last September I began also coaching at the University of Surrey.
What do you enjoy most about coaching Ultimate?
When we win! That is the simple and honest answer, and has remained the same from the time when I was playing. Of course that doesn't always happen, and regardless of results it is incredibly fulfilling seeing players, and the team, improving based on what we are working on at practices. It's also a great personal challenge for me, as coaching a sport is both very different from playing it and very different from teaching an abstract/academic subject like philosophy (my day job!).
What’s been your coaching highlight to date?
There are a few, even in this short time! Seeing Guildford get their best overall tour result in around 5 years in my first season of coaching them. Also I'd have to say that beating our local rivals, Reading, both last season (in the event that they ended up winning) and this season (in sudden death) was pretty special. They are a team/club that we look up to, organisationally and in terms of their consistency, so those results meant a lot. Overall, there has been really clear improvement this season, which is fantastic to see.
In terms of TSU (Surrey men's) I am particularly pleased with having worked specifically on their zone offence (which was, at the start, frantic and inefficient) to the point where they were ripping through opposition zones with ease even in tough conditions. This season they were unbeaten in their BUCS fixtures and they won the Outdoor Men's Division 3 (including two sudden death wins) - a great way to celebrate their 10th anniversary year as a university club.
What are your top three tips for a new coach / getting started?
1. Find someone else that you can run ideas by and talk to - even if it is just someone on the end of a phone.
2. Be willing to stop/change something (on the day or in general) if it isn't working the way you want. Things don't have to be perfect immediately, and it is not always possible to predict what will happen beforehand.
3. Foster an environment where all players feel that they can ask questions.
Any other tops tips?
It will take a lot of your time and mental/physical energy, so try to treat it like a part-time job, with dedicated moments in the week when you think about it to stop it taking over.
Get a team app for monitoring who will be at various practices so that you can plan effectively. We use Sportmember but others brands are available!
What’s coming up next for you?
In terms of Guildford Ultimate, we are looking to continue the improvement we have seen this year into the business end of this season. First aim is to qualify for UKU Nationals; then, presuming we do, to sneak up the standings under the radar! For TSU we are now in the process of planning the 2019-20 practice schedule so that we can build on this year's successes.