GB Women’s Volleyball Head Coach, Audrey Cooper, has successfully graduated from UK Sports Elite Coach Programme. Launched after the Athens Olympics in 2004, ‘Elite Coach’ is a three-year accelerated coach development programme in which up to 10 coaches per year are selected to participate. The course is a targeted, focused and fully supported programme for the very best coaches who demonstrate the talent, dedication and determination to succeed and produce outstanding performances.
Sam Whale, Coaching Team co-ordinator at UK Sport comments….
“Elite Coach was designed in response to a demand from sport to develop the very best in British high performance coaching. Over the past three years Audrey has consistently demonstrated the dedication, effort and sheer ability to meet this demand. The programme has always encouraged coaches to push boundaries, think differently and challenge perceptions and beliefs. It has been a pleasure to work alongside Audrey and watch her grow and develop alongside a team and sport she believes so passionately in – I have no doubt that she will continue to lead her programme and the sport with integrity and conviction through to 2012 and beyond.”
Audrey was a member of the fourth and final group to graduate from the programme, her intake included Bobby Crutchley (hockey), Jason Lee (hockey), Mark Wood (bob skeleton), Paul Green (taekwondo), Rhona Martin (curling), Rick Velati (triathlon).
At the World Class Performance Conference held in St Andrews this week, UK Sport Chair Baroness Sue Campbell presented each member of the cohort with their graduation certificates.
Being part of the Elite Coach is a challenging three year journey to coaching excellence. Tailor-made programmes are built around each coach, which allows them to develop both their technical skills by working with and observing the best in action and to develop the leadership skills which are the hallmarks of the most successful operators, not just from the world of sport, but also in the worlds of business, industry and the arts.
Being part of the programme involved attending a 3 residential courses per year and progressing individual development programmes. For Audrey being a member of the EC group has been a superb journey that has given her many opportunities to further her knowledge and leadership skills….
“I have many residentials to reflect on which were challenging and rewarding as well as a great learning experience. Two jump out at me. One was the Strength Deployment Inventory session run by *Gemma Morgan of ‘Number 8′, which I have since used with my team and has proved invaluable in terms of the team understanding how each other tick, how to get the best from each other and how to ‘ring each others bells’.
The 2nd was the Leadership & Followership session, high performing teams need both of these. This session gave an insight into where some of my players sit, how they move from one to the other depending on any given situation - Effective Follower top right, Alienated Follower top left, Sheep bottom left, Yes person bottom right or Survivor in the middle.
It has been fantastic to see how they are growing to become effective followers, where we want to be to maximise our performance.
My highlight moment was the Innovation session we did with Chris Grant where we were challenged to come up with something that would be innovative and make a difference. That day gave me the courage to evolve the GB women’s ‘Style of Play’, change the way we play volleyball in order to be truly competitive in London 2012.
The Elite Coach Course has been a fantastic development tool for me, providing me with a new wealth of experience and knowledge. I have much greater self awareness and awareness of others which allows me to get the best from my team and myself.”
From theory to the GB court..
The GB head coach has invested a significant amount of time and effort in maximising this opportunity, but the key measure of its success is the transfer into everyday coaching life.
Gemma Morgan, Leadership Development Specialist shares how she was utilised by Audrey…
“I first started working with Audrey on on Elite Coach. The Women’s GB Volleyball Team were approaching the Summer Competitive Phase, with players returning from the pro-circuit abroad back into the GB Programme. Audrey recognised the challenge of re-integrating players as quickly as possible to be ready to compete.”
“We designed a series of workshops to establish a shared framework or ‘way of doing things’ around which the team now adapt, co-ordinate and co-operate, maximizing team functioning at superior levels of performance for success. The Players have been involved throughout the process through experiential learning, practical application, feedback and continual review.
It has been a privilege to work with the Women’s GB Volleyball Programme. I have found Audrey’s commitment to excellence to be exemplary. The Women’s GB Programme continues to nurture players who are highly committed, resourceful and professional. The Players have the tenacity and commitment to maintain the momentum of the GB Programme in spite of recent funding challenges. I am confident this will set the tone for the successful Legacy of 2012. “
An insight from the players…
Here are some thoughts from the players as to what they believe the benefit of the ECC has been and the impact on the team. Firstly Rachel Laybourne gives an insight into the work this summer.
“As a team we have been involved in a world class elite programme for over two years now & although our strengths and attributes are continually growing and evolving Audrey is always trying to find that extra 1% that will give us the edge when it comes to competing against the best teams in the world.
This summer our team committed invaluable time as a squad working with ‘number 8′ and the results have been far reaching. Based on the last 2 years and where we want to be in 2012, we outlined ‘the way we do things around here’ which basically is our agreed way that guides us every day to ensure we maximise every 1% and become the ultimate high performing team. We learnt so much from the experience whether it be about our team mate, the coaching/support staff or ourselves. The knowledge gained in those challenging, insightful and thought provoking yet energising sessions, has given us a far better understanding of how we all think and act.
Ultimately, knowing this has allowed us to progress as a team and improve our performance in training and matches.”
Lynne Beattie, GB captain….
“Congratulations to Coach Cooper on the completion of the Elite Coach Course. Her exposure to & working with high-performance coaches from other sports has undoubtedly raised the performance level of her individually & us as a team. The phenomenal effort she has put in is echoed in her passion & work ethic for the GB Womens VB team.”
Since Elite Coach was launched in 2004, over 30 high performance coaches from 17 different sports have graduated from the programme, including World Heptathlon Champion Jessica Ennis’ coach, Toni Minichiello, and Beijing Olympic medallist David Davies’ coach, Kevin Renshaw.
*Gemma Morgan is a former Army Officer, with more than 14 years experience in leadership and team development both in the UK and Overseas. She was awarded the Carmen ‘Sword of Honour’ for outstanding performance as a young officer. An Elite Sportswoman, competing in 3 World Cups, World Cup All Star Team 1997, Most Valuable Player at European Games 1997 and National Captain. She has delivered High Performance Development with GB Volleyball, GB Taekwondo, GB Curling, UK Athletics, GB Sailing, GB Hockey, GB Triathlon, British Swimming, England Netball & GB Judo. Gemma is a specialist in Leadership Development and Team Dynamics. Leading Talent Development at Cable&Wireless Worldwide, she has also worked with Lloyds TSB, HSBC, UK Sport, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Guys & St.Thomas’ Hospital, and Aldar.