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UK Coaching Team
Talent and Performance

Mike Holmes: ‘As a Coach You Can Make Success Happen’

Mike Holmes’ journey into coaching began with a voluntary position that he juggled alongside full-time work. Since then, he has worked with superstar athletes including Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Jess Taylor. John Driscoll finds out more about Mike’s experiences, including his motivation for staying in coaching as long as he has

A few minutes from the western end of the M62, Wavertree Park is an oasis in the sprawling suburbs of Liverpool. It’s been home to Liverpool Harriers Athletics Club since 1988, when the club moved from the university sports ground at Mather Avenue. It’s also home to the man responsible for nurturing a succession of athletes for almost 35 years – most recently the heptathletes Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Jess Taylor.

A successful athlete at school, university and club, Mike Holmes made a record number of 100 appearances for the Harriers in the British League. He is modest about his achievements.

“As a youngster I was an athlete aspiring to make international status, but I fell significantly short,” Mike explains.

“However, having plugged away for years and rubbed shoulders with more talented athletes, and shared their coaches, I had learned a fair amount and experienced a great deal.”

Ultimately, he decided to use what he had learned to coach others.

“Coming into coaching for me was a natural and seamless progression towards the end of my active career. Couple that with a ready opinion and the tendency to dispense advice, both solicited and otherwise, and I was on my way.”

Coaching on a voluntary basis

Like the majority of coaches in the UK, Holmes coached on a voluntary basis, while holding down a significant day job as a civil engineer, initially managing Liverpool’s sewerage system and later overseeing the city’s construction contracts.

How did he balance the demands?

“I more or less ran two careers in parallel, with coaching athletics (albeit unpaid) being one. Did it adversely affect my career as a civil engineer? Marginally, it probably did, but whilst working full-time I managed to reach national coach status (honorary at that time) and coached Olympians, hugely enjoying all the fulfilment that came with that.”

The shift in focus came at the point of early retirement.

“When the opportunity came to take early retirement, I was able to step up my coaching to a more or less full-time basis, though in my case it remained largely voluntary. However, it doesn’t have to be so ‘full on’ for everyone. Most people enjoy hobbies and pastimes without putting their career in jeopardy, so it’s not a question of all or nothing, but simply being regular and consistent to the level one chooses.”

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UK Coaching Team