Always Something More
In a contrast from the previous blogs in this series, this month I’m taking a look at coaching in the performance environment as I chat to Lesley Tischler who is currently coaching at Surrey Storm.
I’ve known Lesley for a few years now. She was a regular at talent coach breakfasts that have been run in London in the past and is one of the most motivated and passionate coaches that you could meet. “I am passionate, coaching is a desire and I'm a good coach” she tells me with a smile. This is the thing about Lesley, you can tell when she’s passionate about what she’s talking about because everything is delivered with a smile.
I ask her why she coaches, what motivates her “I'm driven in the sense that I love seeing the girls develop and being part of their journey is incredible. To see what comes in at the beginning and what goes out at the end, and to be a part of that development and support”. She goes on to say “it's about making these girls a better person, they won't all wear the red dress, but it’s about making them the best that they can be and developing your own resilience through that journey”.
Lesley has built her resilience over time. Starting with Poly Netball Club in 1994 she can still identify that they were the reason she started coaching. She started getting involved in delivering some warm ups and then some strength and conditioning sessions and as time went on her interest in becoming a coach grew.
Her pathway to becoming a performance coach started here. Looking back, Lesley knows she was never the best netball player but felt she had something to give so she started coaching at the club. Realising the enjoyment she was getting from in and being of a competitive nature, she started to question what she could do next. “There's always something more” she tells me and goes on to recount how she became involved at county level as an assistant then Head Coach with Middlesex. Lesley then found herself applying for a role at a performance academy, at the same time she was in Israel coaching the England squad at The Maccabiah Games. “Every time I do something new that makes me scared and worried it always ends up being the best decision I've made. Every time I find my comfort zone, I'm pushing myself to get out of it”.
Having secured the England Netball performance pathway coach role, Lesley has found herself doing more than just coaching. As the girls are younger than they used to be and all at very different levels of the performance pathways, SPAM (Single Point of Athlete Management) has also become part of her role. I wonder how she has balanced this with her own life. “There are weeks where I may only see my family for about three hours a week” she tells me “you have to look at the balance and ask yourself who is getting the best of me”. Her passion for coaching has clearly had an impact on her family life and is part of the reason that she has chosen to step off the gas a little and leave her role with England Netball.
Lesley is about to embark on the next stage of her journey. She’s starting a coaching role with Surrey Storm and this has pushed her coaching once again into the ‘uncomfortable’. This doesn’t faze her though as she’s being exposed to things that she’s not had the opportunity to be involved with at England. “At this level it's about winning games and coaching in games, and that's what I love” she tells me, part of the coach mentor programme that’s she’s now involved with at Surrey Storm is about coaching behind the scenes, in the dressing rooms “there's nowhere else I can get this experience, and I need this to progress”. Lesley feels privileged to be part of the coaching set up at Surrey Storm but she keeps coming back to the ‘uncomfortable’, “this is part of me jumping off the cliff I want to be the best possible coach that I can be”.
Lesley is an incredibly self-driven person and is always looking within first. She has been fortunate to have accessed people who she respects in terms of coaches and talks about working with Tamsin Greenway which has enabled her to do things different. “I’ve learned so much from her” Lesley says and by getting involved with the coaching set up she has learnt to respect the advice that Tamsin has given her.
It’s clear that Lesley looks up to Tamsin as a mentor and role model. Being in netball the majority of coaches are women and she feels lucky to have benefitted from Tamsin’s time. Talking about women in sport, Lesley’s view is that it is hard for women to break through, it's very male orientated and a lot of it is driven by sponsorship and money. “That's where women's sport is lacking, without the money it will lack the profile” She tells me and we go on to discuss where the women high performance coaches outside of netball are and why there is little or no profile for them.
Looking to the future, Lesley tells me “every time I get where I want to be I see what the next level is and I want to get there”. She knows that she can't do it on her own but she also knows what she needs to do to fill the gaps “I want to be a performance coach coaching a team in a performance environment, I want the skills and attributes to do that really well, I'm serving my apprenticeship now and one day I will get there”.
If you've been inspired by Lesley’s story and want to get involved in coaching but don't know where or how to start, check out sports coach UK’s Reach campaign. You'll find hints and tips as well as case studies about women who are succeeding in coaching.
Steven Bentall, Coaching Network Manager