Process Vs Outcome
For Steve Glasson OAM, national coach of the Australian bowls team, the process is everything.
The 48-year-old former player took up the role of coach in 2011 and is arguably Australia's finest ever bowler, amassing over 100 titles, including 19 prized Australian championships and pioneering success abroad from more than 300 appearances for his country.
As a former national and world No.1, Glasson knows a thing or two about success but won't have his squad of 17 able-bodied and para-sport squad bound by it ahead of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, where the external expectation on every single Australian athlete is two-fold.
And that's not to mention the athlete's expectation on themselves, which needs to be carefully managed in a team environment like bowls according to Glasson.
"Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) and the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) ask us for our KPIs as to what we think is an achievable goal. It's not something I like to do because I think it's a bit of a guess to a certain extent," he said.
"We supply an answer that we think is achievable but once we do that, with all due respect to the CGA and AIS, I basically put that out of mind.
"The last thing I want to be doing is communicating to our players that we have to win X amount of gold, X amount of silver and X amount of bronze medals because once you start doing that you're looking at the outcome rather than the process and that's not something I like to do. It complicates matters and places unnecessary stress and angst on people."
Glasson is quietly confident that the body of work put in by his chargers both on and off the green. This has included multiple camps at the Broadbeach Bowls Club (the Games' host venue), one on one player meetings and an influx of feedback and data on their own and potential opposition's game from the Bowls Australia (BA) High Performance (HP) team will hold them in good stead.
"We've got 10 disciplines at the Games and I know that we sincerely have 10 genuine chances there. I certainly don't deny that," he said.
"I'm a realist and a common-sense person, so you know along the way that it's impossible to fathom that we'll win 10 from 10. We're talking about sport here so there will be some bad luck and interferences along the way which will definitely compromise or have a significant influence on a result.
"If that's ever to happen [10 from 10], well we'll have the biggest party we've ever seen!"
For the uninitiated, the depths to the role and influence of Australia's national bowls coach may be overlooked and almost likened to say the coach of a cricket team, where the coach is almost always undervalued.
Despite Glasson viewing his role as a "lifestyle rather than a job," that lifestyle has asked of him more than any regular job has demanded.
He spends a remarkable time away from home traveling the country on what is certainly not of the holiday nature and the regular rises before dawn would suggest as much.
Again, Glasson harps back to the 'process' and this is emphasised by the work he put in pre-Games, although extremely time-consuming, to meet with each of his squad members personally outside of the camps, including those who did not make the Games squad.
"It's important to have kept them [players not selected] in our sights as well because obviously after the Games the whole Jackaroos squad reunites and we then push on to World Championships and whatever else," he said,
"Obviously the priority is the Games... While we've had a lot of camps, those camps were quite hectic so to sit down with the individual athletes one-on-one was impossible to say the least so that's why we did them.
"Just to catch up with them, see how they're going... Make sure they're on track with all their training and expectations specifically geared around the Games.
"There's also an opportunity for many of them to bring their significant other with them as part of their support mechanism... So, they're across what we're trying to achieve, how best they can support the athlete and also how they can manage the athlete from a personal point of view.
"There's a lot of excitement from families and nearest dearest for these athletes and the significant other takes charge of managing that side of things so there's not a constant interruption to the player."
As for the Games itself, Glasson doesn't see his continual and heavy workload changing, which will entail everything from final motivational words on the bus on the way to the venue, to relaying immediate statistical feedback to players via the Bowls Australia High Performance team, to managing player downtime following events.
An ongoing focus on a strong team culture has been received well by members of the playing squad, who constantly refer to their group as a 'family' and it is this personable touch that Glasson possesses that has Australia primed for a potential gold rush come April 5.
It's an almost whole-of-athlete focus from on-green performance to the role of their significant other in managing friends and family expectation which has further strengthened these family ties.
"We all come into these roles with our own philosophy and vision. Over time, hopefully, you grow as a person and a coach and you manipulate those philosophies and thoughts a little bit," he said.
"I wouldn't say there's one coach or sport that inspires me. I think you take a lot of things from a lot of players. You fall back on your own experience as a player. You take all matter of learnings you get from different coaches.
"Just the simple things like having the respect of the locker-room, I think that's really important. I've very big on culture in the team. If you can have a really strong culture in the squad that helps generate results and it's worth shots in a match."
As for what lies ahead, Glasson feels his role as coach brings with it successes of a different sort every day.
It goes back to his mantra of not being fixated on the outcome which while goes against the grain of the business of sport, has worked a treat during his time as coach.
He's overseen Australia's best ever performance on home soil at the 2012 World Championships followed by the most successful World Championships campaign abroad in New Zealand four years later.
With bowls very much a methodical and calculated sport, it's no surprise Glasson's approach has paid off and it's one he hopes has contributed to the growth of the person as well as the athlete.
"I feel very privileged and honoured to not only work with a national sporting body but also such talented people," he said.
"To have the opportunity to obviously learn from them but also influence them in what they do and how they go about things. They're already extremely gifted when they come to us but having that opportunity to get them to grow, to learn, to become part of a united and successful team I think is wonderful.
"There are times when we have to crack down on them and there are times when we can just give them a hug and a pat on the back.
"But it's fabulous to see them achieve their goals... I know it sounds like pie in the sky stuff but I have a vision to see them become more worldly, more genuine... just better people for it so when they leave bowls I hope they'll look back and say we enjoyed success, we worked very hard for it, we were pushed and we've certainly grown as a people."
Steve Glasson OAM has presided over the Australian Jackaroos and Bowls Australia's High-Performance contingents as the sport's National Coach
During his tenure he has led the squad to its best ever World Bowls Championships performance in 2012, which including a stunning five gold, two silver medal haul from eight disciplines, and followed up with the nation's best ever campaign abroad four years later, with a performance that included four gold, two silver and a bronze.
This year, Glasson will lead his charges into his first Commonwealth Games campaign while at the helm.
In his heyday, Glasson was unquestionable one of the sport's preeminent players, having won 19 national championships titles, including nine Australian Indoor Championships. He was the number one ranked player in Australia between 1997 and 2005.
In 2004, Glasson solidified himself as the nation's first world singles champion, when he won the men's singles gold medal at the World Bowls Championship in Scotland.
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