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Wellbeing a key to successful coaching

22 February 2021

In the past 14 months Stacey Marinkovich has become a mum, the Australian Diamonds netball coach and has found far greater balance in her career than ever before.

Stacey Marinkovich and small son
Stacey Marinkovich Australian Diamonds netball coach.

Photo courtesy of Marcela Massey and Netball Scoop.

Marinkovich will speak at the AIS World Class to World Best Conference, February 23-24, and encourage Australia’s high performance coaches and sporting leaders to prioritise their own wellbeing too, along with the athletes they naturally tend to put first.

“I think Australian sport has led the way with the focus on athlete wellbeing, we’ve always thought about their performance psychology as well as their life balance with study, work and evolving as a person. Sport made that a focus,” Marinkovich said.

“But I don’t think coaches or sport leaders necessarily follow the instructions we give out in that regard. In elite sport, wins and losses can determine whether you keep your job, there’s expectation, the job’s become more complex and the time commitment has expanded. Generally as a coach you’re on call for your players 24-7 because you want them to be happy and healthy.

“But you also have to be energised when you’re a coach, players know when you’re on song and when you’re not. The reality is, you have to make big decisions and often in high pressure moments and you want to make sure you have absolute clarity in what you’re doing. So a coach’s wellbeing is important to be able to perform your job at the optimal level.

“It’s great that we are increasing the focus on the coaching side of wellbeing too, making sure we don’t burn-out because it can be easy to do.”

Marinkovich began her national playing career with the AIS in 1999 and is also now a member of the AIS National High Performance Coach Development Taskforce, launched late last year with the aim of making Australia the world leader in modern high performance coaching development.

Marinkovich believes an increasing focus on coach and leadership wellbeing will benefit not only the individuals, but also have a sustainable impact on the Australian sporting system.

Last year, with the support of Netball Australia and her club, the West Coast Fever, Marinkovich had her baby son with her in the quarantine Hub for the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season.

“I’ve really jumped in the deep end in the past year and I’ve got a bit going on,” Marinkovich said, laughing. “But it’s actually balanced my life out and made me prioritise the right things at the right time. It’s very easy to get all wrapped up in the high performance world, but you’ve got to find the ability to switch off too. I think I’m more purposeful within the training environment and at work, but I’m able to balance that with being at home and embracing my down-time.

“You want coaches to stay in the system for a long time because that means you’re retaining the intell and experience to continually evolve. To have people who are balanced in their lives means they can still enjoy their coaching for long periods of time, it’s only going to strengthen the development pathways to our elite programs.

“I feel privileged to be part of the national coach development taskforce because we’re looking to drive all Australian sport forward, not just the sports we represent.”

Marinkovich will join Olympic triathlete and Triathlon Australia CEO Miles Stewart and Australian Para-cycling coach Warren McDonald for a discussion on ‘Driving performance and coach wellbeing’ at World Class to World Best (#WC2WB).

World Class to World Best is Australia’s premium high performance sport conference and this year will feature an incredible line-up of Australian and international speakers. International coaching icons like Eddie Jones (rugby) and Judy Murray (tennis) will feature. The conference will also draw on leadership advice from outside sport including: former Director of NASA’s Johnson Space Centre Ellen Ochoa; Mental Performance Advisor for Cirque du Soleil, Veronique Richard; and New York Times best seller David Epstein.

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