Two-year Performance Coaching Academy underway

The biennial Bowls New Zealand Performance Coaching Academy recently began its 2024-2025 edition.

Convened by Bowls New Zealand National Coach Development Lead, Graeme Rees, the two-year course is designed to develop participants to more effectively coach at centre and club level, as well as at the limited international and national levels that present themselves.

“To that end,” says Graeme. “The course is not simply open to newly-aspiring coaches, but to those who are already accredited development coaches, or who have represented the Blackjacks and wish to similarly develop their coaching skills.”

Even though the criteria for participation is strict, 18 bowlers from up and down the country have signed up for the two-year programme.

“In fact, they’ve put up their hand from 9 Centres … not only from Auckland, Taranaki, Wellington, Canterbury and Dunedin, but even from our smaller Centres like the Far North, Gisborne, South and Central Otago.”

“It’s been great to see the spread of interest.”

The academy is a mixture of on-line, face-to-face and hands-on learning, where there’s opportunities to participate in both individual and group sessions.

“We also recognise the need to be flexible, and to cater for participants who have other commitments.  Our on-line courses, for instance, are recorded and reviewable after the fact.”

Year one (2024) concentrates on ‘the four pillars of coaching’ : technical, physical, mental and tactical.  But it also deals with all the peripheral matters that a coach needs to be privy to in the coaching environment.

Year two (2025) is more practical, where participants are required to put their newly-learned skills to work …  coaching players, coaching teams and coaching programmes.

“The participants are expected to have a passion and commitment to bowls,” says Graeme. “And Performance Coach Accreditation will only be awarded to those who successfully complete the academy.”

“Coaches will also have a Coach Development Plan which they will create,” adds Graeme. “With the assistance of the ‘Raise My Game’ coach card deck.”

“They are paying for the privilege to participate … we’ve set an arbitrary cost of $200 each per year.  In fact the academy costs far more than that, but Bowls New Zealand has agreed to underwrite the shortfall.”

This year already, three coaching specialists have shared their knowledge with the group : Sharon Sims, John Quinn and Emily Belton.

And they’re not just sharing their experiences of practical coaching.  The topics being covered over the two-year period include more challenging subjects like conflict resolution, coaching athletes with disabilities, team culture, conditioning and nutrition/hydration, performance analysis, biomechanics, athlete management and psychological safety.

All heady stuff!

But perhaps the highlight of the year will be the World Coaching Conference in Auckland in November.

‘We ran a national coaching conference last year,” says Graeme. “Which was a great success.  We thought this year that it would be great to time the conference with the Oceania Challenge and the World Champion of Champions tournament so that coaches from other countries had the opportunity to attend.”

The course will then continue into 2025 and early 2026.  ‘Graduation’ is scheduled for April 2026.

“It seems a long way out,” observes Graeme. “But time will fly.”

“It’s wonderful to think that we’ll end up with a much richer pool of coaching talent here in New Zealand.”