I recently interviewed Keir Wenham-Flatt, a strength and conditioning coach based in the USA, who has worked with elite level rugby players all over the globe in places like the UK, China, Australia, Argentina and Japan. I really enjoy his Twitter content and he recently posted a tweet in regards to coaching philosophy that firstly made me think, and secondly, wanted to discuss with him. (See below)
Before the podcast, my reflections on the tweet were that it brings up a great point for coaches. For a while I've believed that coaching philosophies have been somewhat generic and lacked diversity and depth. Kier's point is that they actually have the ability to restrain coaches, both in their thinking and in their processes. So a philosophy is a waste of time? No, not quite. At the beginning of the podcast Kier talks about how the balance of the philosophy (see below) and used the Jeff Bezos quote to highlight this, "Be stubborn on the vision and strategy, but flexible on the details and tactics." This can be quite a complex process for a coach to work through and Kier gives great insight into how working with different teams and in different cultures can grow the perspective of the coach, whilst at the same time providing them with a healthy dose of humility every now and again.
Another aspect of the podcast that I enjoyed was the perspective that Kier gave on the robustness of current players. We seem to be in an age where we talk more about injury prevention than ever before, but have more injuries. Likewise, players seem to have more fitness resources available to them than ever before, but are less equipped to deal with the demands of the game. Below he talks about the 'give and take' relationship required between S&C staff and technical staff. Certain elements of the game (technical/tactical) will be sacrificed earlier in the season, in order to excel later. Towards the end of the podcast, Kier talks about the difficulty in US college athletics with S&C coaches being spread so thin and spending so much time on the floor with teams. This almost creates 'copy and paste' sessions for the athletes, which lack detail and context of the sport, as well as creating bad habits for the coach. In the podcast he shares his solutions at William & Mary and how key the relationship is between Athletic Director and Head Coaches.
Overall, I really enjoyed Kier's interview for the same reasons that I enjoy his social media. He is honest, even quite critical at times, but always is focused towards solutions. It's easy to generalize or over-simplify things today on social media, and coach education is not made easy by the constant branding or selling on all platforms. That's why someone who is as humble, honest and confident questioning or providing different perspectives to the sports community as a whole, can help us understand the difficulty of the journey, and the need to excel in both communication and relationships.
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You can watch the full podcast below.