Do Athletes Make Good Coaches?

Posted in expert insights on February 28, 2013

Baz Moffat personal training and rowing instructor (including event training for individuals and teams), speaks to Annie Vernon, who after a successful rowing career picking up World titles and Olympic medals, is now embarking on a coaching career.

Baz caught up with Annie to find out what she has to say about athletes being good coaches…


I spent eight years as a full-time international rower and following the London Olympics I moved into a temporary job coaching Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club. I never, ever thought I would become a rowing coach but the job seemed like it could be good fun and before I knew it I was sitting in a launch on the River Ouse at Ely, right in the Fens.

If I could describe my life right now, it would be that I’m becoming that person I used to hate: I’m doing all the things that used to really annoy me about my coaches….

It started one day when I found myself shivering whilst supervising a weights session, so I suggested to the girls that they close the windows of the gym. They looked at me in disbelief: I was wearing layer upon layer, whilst they were wearing shorts and vests.

Then I started to notice that I was racking up an impressive list of all the things that used to annoy me about my coaches:

standing around looking bored and playing on my iPhone when the athletes were doing tough sessions; not pressing the button on the megaphone properly so they couldn’t really hear what I say when coaching; accidentally running the oars over in the coaching boat; and making sarcastic comments when they’re screwed from a hard week’s training.

So do athletes make good coaches?

I’m not sure.

On the one hand, I can really empathise with what the athletes are going through, both good times and bad. On the other hand, I will always tend to side with them when sometimes they do truly need a good kick up the backside.

Thinking back to the relationship I had with my coach, I liked that he was always utterly uncompromising and although I often didn’t like it at the time, he absolutely got the most out of me. I’ve had to learn to see things from the outside rather than always taking the athlete’s point of view.

As an athlete you’re only concerned with yourself. Your mind, your body, your motivation, your experience, your results. As a coach of a squad of thirty girls, I now have to deal with 30 different minds, bodies, motivations, experiences, and try to get the most out of each individual.

Many thanks to Baz and Annie for sharing their conversation.

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