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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.

Susan McCaughtrie, Brunswick SLSC

Coaching Discipline: Surf race, OWS, Pool Rescue, competitive pool swimming

Brief coaching background: I was coaching before and after work as a school teacher. Being a Steiner teacher I’d have the same group of children over many years. This provided the perfect foundation for understanding human development, skill acquisition, functional and fundamental movement over time. After finishing the cycle with my last class at Shearwater Mullumbimby, I committed to be a professional coach, made my plans and went from there.

How and why did you get started in coaching?

As a kid I had to choose between a performing arts school or a sports school for High School. I chose performing arts and came back to sport and coaching as an adult. Whether it be music, art, sport - the application of will and living experiences of discipline are transferable. The skills we hone in athletes resonate across many future fields of interest in their lives - it opens the door to potential and self belief.

Who or what has had the biggest influence on your coaching career?

Three people stand out:

  • Don Van Keimpema - Don has been a great advocate by creating opportunities for SLSNSW coaches to succeed, encouraging me to aim high and being available to answer questions and provide wisdom/perspective.

  • Scott McCartney - Touring with Macca was a real turning point for me. The way he trains and interacts with athletes in his care was different to anything I’d seen. He is 100% himself. He creates a sense of belonging and enjoyment mixed with hard work. It’s easy to see why there are so many great athletes developed under his care.

  • Hugh Simson Snr - Hugh helped solidify the role of technique and planning according to proven scientific principles. He taught me to innovate within reason - not to experiment or ‘quick tricks’ for no reason, but try things with an informed basis for doing so.

What sort of recovery methods do your athletes undertake?

  • Have an integrated approach to training and recovery. 

  • Connect and work with accredited sports scientists who have relevant experience in the area you need more information. 

  • Performance nutrition and quality sleep are key to not only training well, but also recovery and ‘precovery’.

How do you go about keeping your athletes motivated?

Clear goals, record measurements/data and identify consistent improvements, no matter how small. 

Each athlete is a puzzle for us to solve in ways that suit them - not what suits us. We should be flexible, well-informed and have a wide range of experience to draw from and find what combination works for an individual.

What do you enjoy most about coaching?

I enjoy the responsibility and pressure, guiding and training athletes to perform exactly when they need to and observing them in the experience and seeing them able to draw on it in other areas of their life.

What are 3 pieces of advice you would pass onto aspiring coaches?

  1. Understand how far you want to go professionally and design your journey there. Get the qualifications and experience you need to level up or plan to enrich yourself if you are aspiring to expand laterally across a specific age group or event.

  2. Go and seek out what you need - don’t wait for it or expect it to appear in your life. Work out what you want or need to know then actively seek out those doing it or experiences where you can learn it. 

  3. Don't let a “No” or rejection get in the way of your aspirations. ‘No’ is just a rock on the path - work out another way around it or grit your teeth and commit to climb over it. There is always an alternative pathway you can take and often those less-travelled paths are what make you more unique as a coach.


Wednesday 14 October 2020