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Commonwealth Games Edition, Sports Back2Back

By: Lisa Alexander

By: •  3 years ago •  

Back2Back

My Coaching Journey

I began my journey in high performance coaching over 25 years ago.

I moved to Leongatha and was playing at an elite level as captain/coach at the local regional team. This peaked my interest in coaching, and that’s when I started to seek appointments in the Victoria system, particularly as a Victorian state coach, beginning by coaching the Victorian Under 16 Secondary Schools Team.

I completed all of my coaching qualifications, and trained as a high-performance coach under Joyce Brown, who was Netball Australia’s coaching director at the time. It was with Joyce that I got my first taste of international coaching in 1994, serving as the Australian Netball Team’s apprentice coach.

I’ve maintained my passion for high performance coaching since then.

I worked my way progressively up the Victorian coaching ladder, to lead the coaching team at the Melbourne Kestrels in the inaugural year of the National Netball League in 1997.

I led the Melbourne Phoenix to back-to-back premierships in 2002 and 2003 and was part of the Adelaide Thunderbirds premiership winning team as assistant coach in 2010.

People Skills

The people that I work with are highly motivated and very switched on about what they want to achieve. It’s all within a team context as well. I really love working with teams and groups of people to achieve great outcomes and a shared goal.

My skills as a teacher have helped me in so many ways, in the way that I communicate, how I organise, and the skills that I have in observing people. It has also provided me with the ability to deal with individual difference within a group setting.

These skills can be quite unique for teachers and it’s an area that coaches are often required to upskill in.

Many industries now are expecting their leaders to become much more skilled in empowering the people that they work with.

The leaders of the future will need to be focused on creating the next generation of leaders as well.

How I Define Success

Success in coaching at team is when people are able to put their individual wants and needs behind the needs of the team.

It doesn’t matter what level you are coaching at, if you can get that buy-in for ‘the team’ ahead of individual goals, then you are really getting something quite special.

Interestingly, people also get a lot out of this individually. They learn about themselves and are challenged to have to work with others in a different way.

It sometimes can be hard to get this through in a team setting, but it makes people feel good with others when they achieve as a group.

It’s the system. The fact that we have such large participant numbers in netball across Australia.

We have a very targeted athlete pathway for success right through to the top level.

We have the world’s best coaches technically and tactically.

We have the ability for coaches and selectors in our system to identify that talent from a young age.

We have great depth in our squads, that are really pushing everyone to perform well. You can never be truly comfortable in your position, as you have somebody always putting their hand up to take your spot, that’s really the key to it.

 The Pressures of Success

I do feel the pressures of maintaining success for the Diamonds, but this pressure helps me to be a better coach. Anyone that is involved in sport at the very highest level, is going to feel pressure no matter what. In fact, any coach of any level will experience pressure at some point in their career.

The pressure that we put on ourselves is probably the hardest pressure that we deal with. It is because we are so hard on ourselves that we generally don’t focus on the pressure that comes from the outside. We have enough of it happening within our own team and the expectations of our own group.

I use pressure as a driving force. I try and encourage our athletes and staff to do the same. If it was easy to achieve, everyone would do it. It is because it is hard to achieve that makes it so great.

It’s such a privilege to work in high performance sport. That’s a part of the reason you accept the pressure, as a real honour and a privilege, to be able to represent your country. The bigger picture motivates you at the same time.

Coaching in Green and Gold

It’s fantastic for netball to be part of a multi-sport event. The Commonwealth Games is our only opportunity to experience this, and it only comes around once every four years. Being able to compete alongside other Australian teams and coaches is a honour.

‘Team Australia’ has its own unofficial support network. There’s that knowing glance to each other, saying ‘we know what you’re going through’. It’s a pretty special thing. It makes you feel better and stronger.

It is an honour to represent the Australian Commonwealth Games team in netball, I will never take this for granted.

Australian Diamonds Head Coach Lisa Alexander has been at the helm of the team since August 2011. A qualified secondary physical education and mathematics teacher, she is guided by her unending quest for excellence and that there is always room for improvement.

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