Surf sport coaches play a crucial role in developing, inspiring and leading athletes to achieve their goals within Surf Life Saving. Each fortnight we'll be profiling some of the incredible coaches from around NSW and finding out their tips and tricks and what they enjoy most about being a surf sports coach.
Michael Gedz, Queenscliff SLSC
Coaching Discipline: Beach events
Brief coaching background
- Coaching for the last 20 years.
- Sydney Northern Beaches Beach and Development Coach 10 years.
- NSW U/14-15 beach coach for the last 3 years.
- NSW Development coach - 5 years
- Various nipper coaching roles, including coaching my own kids.
How and why did you get involved in coaching?
I started to get involved in coaching towards the back end of my open beach sprinting time with the Mollymook open Women’s team. A few of the girls lived in Sydney, notably Courtney Gowen whom I coached to win the Open Women’s beach flags at Aussies in 2004. At the time I thought it was good having someone to train against for my own racing, but soon got hooked, seeing the improvements, and being involved with some wonderful athletes who just wanted to win.
I then coached Laura Shorter for nine years, winning two Open Aussie women’s sprints. Now ironically, I coach her husband Blake Drysdale, who has won the last three Aussie Open Beach Flags titles.
What has been your biggest coaching success?
It is easy to say the Aussie titles that Courtney, Laura and Blake have won but results don’t tell the story behind the result. My biggest coaching Success was 2010 Aussies, when Laura’s childhood friend Saxon Bird was tragically taken from us.
Laura was an emotional mess, as you can imagine. She didn’t sleep or eat for three days. There is no coaching manual for this.
I told her she did not have to run. However, she insisted, saying Saxon would want her to run.
And run she did, winning the Open Women’s Sprint - to this day the most amazing performance I have ever seen. A real tribute in adversity to how much Saxon meant to her.
Who or what has had the biggest influence on your coaching career?
From the early days at Mollymook, I learnt a lot from Darren Peters, he did all our running programs down there. He was awesome. He had all the theory behind everything he gave us. To this day I still use the core of his work.
Also Ray Fox, he was a great manager, knew his stuff and how to get teams together.
These days I bounce a lot off Marty Lynch - he is good. He coached my son Josh with great results. Marty has had great success over many years coaching.
These are the type of people whose brains you want to pick, experience is everything.
What sort of recovery methods do your athletes undertake?
Apart from the usual stretching, rollers, protein supplements and occasional ice bath, my main catch cry is listening to your body. Your body will tell you what you can do. The saying: “Better to be under-cooked than over- cooked” is true and I really make sure my athletes utilise this approach. For example, if you have a speed session planned, make sure it is 100 percent with full recovery, not 92 percent because you’re tired and sore from a previous session.
Listening to your body and making sensible decisions regarding training is so important for sprinters.
How important is technique work in training for your athletes?
Technique is very important. Obviously the better technique the more efficient and the less injured you are going to be. It is harder with kids, because sometimes their bodies are not strong enough to run with good technique. For example, running tall. They grow at different rates in strength and size. You always teach good technique so when their bodies grow, they grow into the good technique.
How do you go about keeping your athletes motivated?
Motivation is easy in most athletes. They want to improve, and they want to win.
Motivating kids is a lot harder, you must make it fun, mix it up and need to understand that not everyone can win. They must know, just because you didn’t win the U/10 sprint, it is not going to shape your life. So do the parents. The ones that want to work harder will let you know.
What do you enjoy most about coaching?
Watching athletes who work hard achieve their goals. Knowing that you were a part of that process. Making lifelong friendships, seeing kids develop into wonderful young adults through sport. Sport teaches them all the fundamentals of life - the bad days, the good days, the bad calls, all of that. I always say life is made up of a whole lot of good days and bad days mixed together, the bad ones don’t last for long and neither do the good ones, so enjoy the journey.
What are three pieces of advice you would pass onto aspiring coaches?
- Always come prepared - have a plan for every training session, plan the season working back from your main event, Aussies. You can always change on the run if necessary. Coaching will throw challenges at you that you can’t prepare for and that’s what makes a good coach, dealing with all situations.
- Remember that all athletes are different. Be flexible to all their needs and loads.
- Coaching is not just about training and racing. Coaching consists of athlete psychology, nutrition, lifestyle, caring about them as human beings. Get to know what makes your athletes tick and what challenges them. They will look up to you, remember you are mentoring them for life as well.
- Also, have fun.
Wednesday 16 September 2020