Coaching Life Interviews Hockeyroos Coach Paul Gaudoin
CL: Why did you transition into coaching?
I played for 11 years for Australia and worked in teaching for a number of years but after a couple of years teaching, I missed the game and found myself wanting to be involved again.
I had a serious knee injury which affected my ability to play beyond 28 but I still wanted to get the buzz of being involved in a competitive sport can give and coaching seemed the obvious choice.
Initially I started with the club point of view, then coaching the state team and finally being offered a position with the national team from Ric Charlesworth.
CL: You mentioned Ric Charlesworth, were there any specific mentors that affected you coaching style?
There have been many from when I was a player. Too many to go through individually but they all influenced me significantly. I do find myself repeating stuff from coaches that I learnt from State and National Coaches, so they definitely impacted my philosophy on the game.
CL: What is your philosophy on the game?
The first thing is a personal approach and having a strong relationship and rapport with the athlete. Understanding that Hockey is the business, so that you can have straight conversations with the athletes, from a point of view on how we play.
I am very keen on making sure we have people who are versatile and flexible. You can play multiple roles and understand the game well. One of the hardest part of the games is getting good decision makers involved in team sports. That’s an area that I really like to focus on, breaking down the game tactically but also recognising that we need people with skill as well to be successful.
CL: What does an average day look like?
We arrive at work at 6 am then finish off the team training session around 9:30. Then answering emails and planning meetings throughout the day and fitting in the 27 athletes that want your time. This has been really important to me, even being the head coach for the last year, giving more time to the athletes, whether it is a coffee catch up or a meeting to discuss how they are playing. This helps build the relationship with the person so that when we get to the business end, the pressure end, we have a depth of connection to help support the conversations.
CL: Do you have any routines or rituals that you have for big events?
There probably is, even if I don’t realise I am doing them. I am a bit of a process freak. I will sit on the same seat on the bus on the way to and from matches. The way I setup the bench is always reasonably rigid and I think these little things help you calm down and focus on the job at hand.
Former Kookaburra Paul Gaudoin played 234 games for Australia across his 11-year career from 1994 until 2004, during which time he was the captain from 2001 until his retirement. Gaudoin was a key member of the 1996 and 2000 Olympic teams where the Kookaburras won bronze medals. During his time as a player, Gaudoin won Commonwealth Games gold in 1998 and competed at three World Cups, winning a bronze (1994) and a silver medal (2002). He also represented Australia at seven Champions Trophy tournaments
Gaudoin began his coaching career in 2008, becoming a coach of the Kookaburras in 2010 where he worked his way up from an assistant coach to senior assistant coach role, including periods where he acted as interim head coach for the team. He took on the role as Hockeyroos head coach in late December, representing his maiden move in women’s hockey as the side rebuilds towards Tokyo 2020.
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