I first started as a player-coach years ago. It was common then but not so much now. Lots of clubs, not just hockey clubs, would have an experienced player being the player-coach.
There was a cut-off time that I finished my playing days and went and coached in Townsville, North Queensland. By coincidence, I met a young Robert Hammond who was just 12 and is now one of the assistant coaches under me as did our other assistant coach Anthony Potter. I then returned to Melbourne to become a Victorian Institute of Sport coach. That was a full-time elite coaching position. I was there for 4 years then spent 8 years in Perth with the National Program as Assistant Coach. From there I have had opportunities as head coach in Belgium and head coach in New Zealand, both going to the Olympic Games.
I played with the Kookaburras for most of the 1980’s and was influenced by Michael Craig, Jim Irvine and John Newitt.
A lot of what they taught me and the way they coached still influences me today.
When I became assistant coach in Perth, I worked under Barry Dancer who went on to be head coach of the Athens Gold medal team. He was a very good person to learn from and have as a mentor.
In terms of philosophy there is never one thing. You have to be very broad with how you assess things and learnings over time. You have to observe and listen well. Listening is a real skill. For a lot of European teams, the head coach is the main person, whereas in Australia, we set up the Head Coach as the person who is responsible, but they are more strongly influenced by the assistant coaches and team around them.
Ones to Watch
The commonwealth Games are always an exciting time, Australia performs very well at the event, but England will be well prepared. India is on the rise and New Zealand would not be far behind them. Even South Africa and Pakistan can be dangerous on the day.
As a head coach you are responsible for the whole program, including the assistant coaches, sports psychologist and culture of the team. Currently we have Brian Fitzpatrick helping us with the culture side of things for the Kookaburras and has been a great mentor for me.
By all accounts, I have had a blessed coaching career.
Do it your own way. Get a lot of experience in different teams and clubs. While it is nice to be a player who has only played in one club, as a coach, if you can get an opportunity to coach in different cultures. That’s what I did in Belgium and New Zealand. You learn a different way of training and a different way of playing and this can be very valuable information.
Coaches do a hell of a lot of preparation behind the scenes and while the final presentation before the match might only be 20 minutes, all the hard work has been done beforehand. The preparing the team on the training field and finding that focus for the match.
Colin Batch was appointed Kookaburras coach in December 2016, joining with a wealth of international coaching experience having been head coach of the Belgium Red Lions (2010-2012) and New Zealand Black Sticks (2012-2016). Batch, who played 175 times for the Kookaburras between 1979 to 1990 including several years as vice-captain, was also a former assistant coach of Australia from 2001-2008 during which time the team won gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics and bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
During Batch’s playing career for Australia, he was a member of the gold medal winning team at the 1986 World Cup and twice a bronze medallist at the World Cups of 1982 and 1990. He came close to winning an Olympic medal, having been part of the fourth place finishing teams at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, while he also competed in 10 Champions Trophy tournaments.
Powerful Stories, Tips and Amazing Insight
Ready, Set, Go! Everything you need to know to start coaching from the legends in the field. As well as the Business and Life coaches, our launch edition features David Parkin (AFL), Lisa Alexander (Netball Australia), Adam Commens (Hockey Australia), Simon Cusack (Swimming Australia), Sean Douglas (FFA) and many more!