Water Polo Coaching – Business Lessons

For the best part of a year, I have been involved on the periphery of coaching the England Talent Squad, hoping to do my bit to prepare young players for the 2020 olympics, and increase my skills in running the East Midlands feeder group into England Talent.
I learnt a lot about business doing this.

(Congratulation to the 2012 GB olympics Water Polo teams [those outside the support may see these as poor, but insiders know how well you truely progressed GB Water Polo to be able to compete at this level] – the exposure generated has helped set the framework we need to build on. We have already seen 8 new trialist at our local Water Polo club as a direct result)

I am part of a Water Polo mentoring programme, delivered by Paul Metz who laid the foundations for the Dutch ladies to win Gold at the Olympic Games in Beijing.

A key part of his coaching is to deliver consistency from techniques through to the dream vision.

  • Vision. ; You need a clear vision: In 2020 we are going to win the Olympics
  • Milestones. ; How do we know if we are on track: We need to finish top 3 in the qualifying tournament; we need to be top 8 in Europe by 2018…
  • Tactics. ; How are you going get there: Select big players, ideally left-handed; set attacking plays; how to break down the counter attack…
  • Skills. ; What do we need the players to do: Strong shot under pressure, hold position in center forward…
  • Techniques: ; How are they going to do that: Strong eggbeater leg kick; swivel to break a hold, pass the ball…

If you can’t pass the ball, you cannot win the tournament (please, no comments about England footballs performance in the 2012 Euro’s). Training on the basic techniques at an early age is so vital to build these into the players DNA, so they deliver as expected, performing the basics without thinking, when under pressure in a vital game.

Is a software business any different?

  • Vision. ; You need a clear vision: What does the end product look like, what market does it serve…
  • Milestones. ; How do we know if we are on track: What is the minimum viable product to enter the market…
  • Tactics.  ; How are you going get there: Are we going to write the code, use open source, buy elements in…
  • Skills. ; What do we need the players (engineers) to do: Write secure code, following an internal methodology…
  • Techniques. ; How are they going to do that: Coding standards; UML diagrams; documentation guidelines…

If our engineers cannot follow good core coding/documentation/design standards, we will not get the quality produce we desire hence why training is so vital. Sadly I feel our universities currently let us down here (I will blog on this separately soon).

Thanks Paul, I may not be the world’s best water polo coach, but with your help I am maybe a bit better than I was – but during these Cardiff training weekends I learnt a lot about business.

Sadly, I think the England teams making the 2016 or 2020 Olympics is an uphill struggle, but as coaches we owe it to the players to try our best to help the achieve their dream. Again, not too different to a managers responsibility to progress the career of an employee.


One thought on “Water Polo Coaching – Business Lessons

  1. Hi Colin,

    I have read the text on your blog. I agree in 95% with the text. A few words in the last line I would choose differently.

    – Do instead of try (trying is preparing for excuse “I tried but ….”)
    – ‘The maximum’ instead of ‘best’

    “We owe the players to do the maximum!”



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