About UK Coaching

Paralympic coach talks skills and developmement

Alex Pinniger - coach of Paralympic swimmer Jessica-Jane Applegate - has spoken about the qualities he feels have contributed to his coaching success, the importance of coach development, and what advice he’d give to anyone wanting to get into coaching.

Quizzed about what has made him a successful coach, Pinniger lists a combination of skills.

Speaking to Coaches’ Voice he said: “I have management experience, business acumen and a passion for instilling a love of swimming. I have exceptional ability to identify talent early on, influence and teach efficient technique and strive for the highest levels of physical and mental fitness.”

In addition to this Pinniger says he has a philosophy of putting swimmers first and foremost, is approachable, and notes a dedicated support team that he can call upon.

Pinniger also places an importance on continual development, saying: “This really goes without saying. The swimming world and sports science moves on very quickly and if you don’t continually develop yourself then you’ll be left behind quickly.

“There are lots of opportunities out there from courses to apprenticeships to conferences. The importance here is on ‘themselves’ because nobody is going to do any of this for you. Never be afraid to ask questions or ask for help with anything. Other coaches love to share their knowledge - they just won’t offer it up unless you ask.”

Asked what he’d say to someone looking at getting into coaching, in particular those looking at working with disabled athletes, Pinniger mentions the benefit of ‘life experience’.

He said: “Coaching is a fantastic career but there are several considerations. I’d always recommend someone to go and do something else first for a few years. Life experience is equally important to technical knowledge.

“I utilise my business experience every day in coaching, for example I’m now helping Jessica investigate becoming a professional athlete.”

Pinniger also says you must also be absolutely sure that coaching is something you want to do and to make sure your focus is not too narrow.

He added: “The gold medals are the high times but the reality is that coaching is one of the tougher careers. Go and talk to some coaches.

“With respect to disabled athletes I fully integrate them with able-bodied swimmers into our squad system. I’d recommend any aspiring coach not to pigeon-hole themselves and always stay open minded.”

 Interview re-produced thanks to the kind permission of Active Norfolk

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