Highlights on Off The Ball

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Highlights on Off The Ball

Liam Moggan | "The best coach of every coach is the player" | #OTBFuture

Liam Moggan, the Coach’s Coach, joined Friday’s OTB AM to give his take in our weeklong serie...

Liam Moggan |

Liam Moggan | "The best coach of every coach is the player" | #OTBFuture

Liam Moggan, the Coach’s Coach, joined Friday’s OTB AM to give his take in our weeklong series on the future of sport in Ireland. Having worked with the National Coaching and Training Centre for 21 years, he was full of advice for any volunteer, regardless of experience, looking at getting involved.

“Coaching is a skill and I think that’s one of the basic fundamental steps, the first steps, that is missed in the support of coaches and in the ongoing training of coaches” he explained.

“If someone is sitting beside a piano and they’ve once seen a piano and heard somebody play piano, we don’t assume that they can go over and sit down and play that piano; but we do that in coaching fields and gyms and halls all over [the country].”

Speaking about what it takes to be a good coach, Moggan admitted there are some inherent traits of benefit, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fostered and grown too.

“There are raw skills and some of those skills are personal traits that people have learned as being a member of a family or a community or may not have learned. That’s why it’s so essential that those skills [are] broken down and then just like weaving a blanket, each of these skills are trained in their own way, so when they’re seamlessly performed by the coach, they don’t seem like they’re doing much. These raw skills are best fuelled through the personality of the person.”

“We lost some great coaches recently in Eamonn Ryan, coach of the Cork ladies Gaelic football team, and Jerry Kiernan in athletics. They had the raw skills, however, as personalities and as individuals, they were very, very different and in their application of these raw skills. The key thing is that they had them, they knew how to introduce, to demonstrate, to explain, to adapt, to make the complex simple.”

Liam Moggan 12 January 2019; Liam Moggan, Coach and Coach Educator, Formerly Coaching Ireland, speaking about Coaches affect eternity: What will your legacy be?, at The GAA Games Development Conference, in partnership with Sky Sports. Croke Park, Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

When it comes to being a successful coach at a fundamental level, there is one key factor Moggan is explicit in stating; “Sport and coaching is never about you, it isn’t about the sport, it is always about the person who’s in front of you.

“Your ability to give them time, to connect with them and to be able to analyse and decide ‘what is the best next step for them’ is always the challenge. Coaching the sport is a flawed way about it. It misses out on the dynamic of this complex, unpredictable, wonderful, flawed, confusing, frustrating person that’s in front of you” he went on to explain.

“That’s your work, it’s with them. The best coach of every coach is the player and of course, the person who is responsible for the performance is the player. So, it fits in with the coach’s role of stepping back. My job here is just to assist, it’s to support, it’s to encourage and get off the stage then when they’re performing.”

Liam Moggan 28 May 2006; Liam Moggan, Clare. Guinness Munster Senior Hurling Championship, Semi-Final, Clare v Cork, Semple Stadium, Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Picture credit; Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

For a country where sidelines are filled week in and week out by well-meaning, but often unprepared parents, Moggan gave a few pointers on the ways in which volunteers can improve their own set coaching skills.

“Don’t get in the way of letting them play. It's nearly like we provide a hurdle to stop them from being active. ‘You gotta wait till the coach is here, you gotta wait till the coach sets up a structure’.”

“Two, deal with the individual. The knowledge or lack of knowledge you may have in the sport can both get in your way. You may know too much, you may know too little, but it’s the person that’s there in front of you, so don’t assume they need coaching.

“Three, encourage yourself and support yourself by seeking assistance. Go and ask other coaches, parents. Ask the young kids ‘What did you like today? What would you like to start with the next day?’ Now you’re beginning to engage in a kind of review of yourself.

“Fourth is to keep your passion. What did you want to coach in the first place? That passion can be dampened, serve that passion, why do you want to do it? Get back to that on a regular basis.

“One of the great difficulties of someone accepting ‘how can I become the next great coach?’ is really accepting ‘what is great coaching?’. It’s to be calm, it’s to be still, encouraging, warm, smiling. Now that takes someone who is very confident in their own skin, in order to do that.

“I’d say anyone who is ambitious, find out what are the skills of good coaches and be happy in your own skin, that through your own personality you’re going down that road.

Liam Moggan joined Adrian Barry and Eoin Sheahan on Friday morning's OTB AM.


Written by Catherine Murphy

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Athletics Coaching GAA Gaelic Football Hurling Liam Moggan The Coaches Coach Volunteering