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Just for the love of it

Rachel Hooper: Rowing Coach

I was recently asked how much I get paid to coach. When I responded that the hours I give are voluntary I was met with a shocked reaction and the question ‘so you just do it because you love it?’.

That’s exactly why I do it. Not specifically because I love coaching, but because I love sport and the impact it can have on people’s lives.

I hated PE at school. I was clumsy, awkward, and always picked last for the team but I was lucky to discover my local rowing club when I started secondary school, and from then on I grew to love sport and understand the difference it can make to your life. It was primarily down to my coaches that I stayed engaged in sport and went on to achieve what I did. I have a life that continues to be filled with incredible experiences, friendships and opportunities thanks to some of my coaches which is why I spend my evenings and weekends coaching. I know I can be part of creating a more fulfilling life for my athletes.  

As part of my UKCC level-four programme, I’ve recently taken a lot of time to reflect on why I coach the way I do and how I’ve developed my personal coaching philosophy. I have a strong stance of fairness and equality in sport and believe that you can never judge the potential of an individual until you have really given them the opportunity to try your sport.

Having been a high-performance athlete and seen just how much coaches have invested in helping me to develop, getting into coaching has been a way to give something back. So what do I get out of it? One thing that seems to leave people shocked is when I say I’m not interested in winning, especially given how competitive I am. My primary focus for any participant is to help them to be the best they can be. For some that might mean becoming a national champion, while for others it might mean being able to complete a rowing drill without falling in the river. Whatever their potential, I want to be able to help my participants to fulfil it.

In the course of my coaching career so far I’ve been lucky to have coached across multiple environments. From raw beginners to international athletes, each individual presents their own unique challenge, but also their own reward to me as a coach. I suppose that’s partly why I do it as well. I find huge satisfaction in seeing a new recruit make big improvements over just a couple of sessions. Equally, pushing an athlete to realise their full potential in a high-performance environment gives me a deep sense of pride. Not in myself, but in them and seeing their hard work pay off.

So why would I recommend getting into coaching? Because for me, there’s nothing more satisfying than giving someone the confidence to achieve something they never thought they could.

 
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