E is for……

Its been a while since I posted in this thread. I would say I had been easy but, more accurately, I have been overtly lazy.

Anyway, the next instalment in my personal A -Z of coaching is

e is for Empathy

Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another

While on sports coach UK aspire programme last year we were put through a personality test, SDI – strength deployment index, (anyone who is at all interested in it can google it for a little more information)

Anyway, the results for me were that I am a ‘green’ personality – that means I focus on the process. Not a massive surprise to me. However, when I am in conflict I move to Judicious – Competing focused on assertiveness, justice, leadership, order and fairness in competition. Again not a huge surprise.

The surprise for me came when I was told that I lacked empathy.

For a while this really bothered me.

I believe that the ability to understand how your athletes are feeling, to understand what they are going through is essential to be able to coach effectively.  

Coaching as part science part art, I love my spreadsheets, I love tracking data and interpreting it to get better results – the science. 

That’s not all I am though, it cant be.

There is also the artist in me that looks at the athletes and sees the people, tries to understand their desires and emotions and works with them to get the result.

Thats why empathy is the next essential ingredient in the make up of a coach


til next time


It takes courage to be a man

I’m 42, my daughter is one today. do I worry about my health a little more than I used to? yeah I do, I worry about getting sick and not being here for her, I think that’s probably normal but the biggest killer of men my age isn’t heart disease or cancer. 

The biggest killer of men my age in the UK is suicide. the statistics make pretty grim reading.

24.1 deaths per 100,000 for men aged 40 – 44 is suicide compared to 8.3 for women. there is obviously a problem that needs to be addressed somewhere.

In this last year I have reached a whole new understanding of what pressure is, I feel under pressure to provide a life for Harper and Louise, to find a balance between work and family, to continue to focus on my job when things get tough and to plan for the future.

Its a challenge and I understand, a little more, why men would feel like they have nowhere to turn to.

By this age we are supposed to have it all nailed down, our family life, our career, a mortgage, the future is planned really. (I don’t feel like I have any idea what my future holds if I’m honest)

Now, I’m not the most mentally robust person I know, I have suffered from depression, been on pills and to talking therapy (which lets be honest no one likes – I hate it). I have had my challenges and have no doubt that I will have more in the future. I am incredibly lucky to have a loving and supportive family around me and to have learnt, the hard way, that if I talk to them they wont judge me, in fact there is a better than good chance they will help me.

Growing up in a world where the male role models we saw on TV were action stars, tough uncompromising men who basically kicked ass every day, its easy to see why men feel like this is what we have to be like, that this is what real courage is.


not deterred by danger or pain; brave

But then yesterday I heard something the other day that resonated with me,

Courage is a heart word, the root of the word is cor – the Latin word for heart. the original meaning of the word courage is to speak ones mind by telling all one’s heart

Being courageous doesn’t mean bottling things up and dealing with stuff on our own. it means the exact opposite true courage is being open enough and brave enough to tell people when we are struggling, to admit when we need help and not be afraid to accept help when its offered.

Maybe if more men where brought up with role models who behaved this way we would start to see a reduction in the awful statistic above.





D is for…….

The next in my A-Z of coaching…..

d is for…..

Every child that joins a swimming club has a Dream. They want to win races, to get better and, ultimately, go to the Olympics.

Dreams  are aspiration desires. Dreams should be BIG, dreams that don’t scare you, dreams that don’t get you out of bed every single day are simply not big enough.

Those people who achieve their dreams are those who have the DRIVE to transform their dreams into goals.

The D in my A-Z is therefore Drive. 


To be driven is to be compelled to act in a particular way, especially one that may be considered difficult.

There is no doubt that sport if difficult. No ‘normal’ people would do it. Its a lot of early mornings and long weekends. Its dealing with injuries and disappointments. Its antisocial.

It takes special people to stick at sport for the long haul, to reach the very top.

It takes people with Drive

Personally the thing that drives me is the desire to prove that I know what I am doing smiley-face-flat

I consider myself to have been incredibly lucky as a coach, I have coaches some athletes who have been exceptional Irish swimmers but there is always that little doubt at the back of my head. The reality that those athletes would in all likelihood have achieved at least as much, if not more, elsewhere.

If my desire is to become as good as I can be, to be as close to world class as possible, then I believe I need to assist athletes to reach their fullest potential on a consistent basis. It is this drive that wakens me every morning at 5am, that makes the decision to say no to nights out an easy one.

It is my belief that no matter what area of life you have ambition in, without drive your dreams will remain just that.




Its that time of year again.

Time to forgo the beard i love so much and take a stand for something more important than my facial hair.

In a year when I think that maculinity and ‘being a man’ has taken some hits I worry that men will do what we generally do and not talk about what bothers us.

Suicide is the biggest killer of men my age in the UK. That is a shocking fact!

We need to break the stigma that we can feel around mens health issues and shine a light on the reality that men suffer too and that its ok to not be ok.

It is good to talk – its not just a handy hashtag.

In a time when it generally seems to be ok to bash men for being masculine in a way its not ok to bash any other group, men need to stand up and show the difference between masculinity and masogyny or chauvinism.

Men cry

Men get sick

Men have problems

Men need help

Men need to realise that they are men and ask for help

This year I became a father for the first time, a truly wonderful experience. An experience that got me thinking about my own mortality, I want to gros old to walk Harper down the aisle (in the unlikely event that she ever finds someone I deem good enough). I made a decision to be more proactive about my health.

Scariest thing? Phoning up to make a prostate exam appointment.

Second scariest thing? Going for it.

The truth however is, it was a blood test, not scary at all.

I dont have a huge circle of friends……not sure if there are even enough to form a rudimentary circle, but I know if I need them, they can be reached and will listen and, I hope, they know the same.

Again, in my experience, starting the conversation is the hard bit, but friends wont judge you and will listen and support.

Men are facing a crisis right now – WE ARE DYING TOO YOUNG

If you feel you can, help me raise a little cash through the MOvember foundation by clicking the link to my page below. More importantly help us break the stigma surrounding mens health – start the conversation






6 great life lessons

A fantastic video from Goalcast with 3 of the very best life lessons you will ever hear on how to live..

1. Dont judge others.

2. Never be late. Its better to be an hour early than a minute late

3. Make sure your serving towel is begger than your ego. Ego is the anesthesia that deadens stupidity

John Wooden – greatest college basketball coach ever – his calling was to impact on peoples lives. Ever day he could be fund with a broom brushing the floor of his own gym.

You want to impact on people….find your broom

4. Be kind. It cost nothing to be kind.

5. If your going to do something, do it right.

Being good is not good enough if you can be better, being better i not good enough if you can be best.

How are you living?

6. Just stand. No matter how rough the seas of this life get, no matter how tough things are you dont give up you dont back down you keep standing.

Everyone fails in their life. And sometimes you even hit rock bottom but you know what, rock bottom is a pretty good foundation.

How are you living?

Love this video thanks to those who shared it and brought it to my attention.


C is for…….

This is an easy one for me.

is for


The dictionary describes




  1. consistent behaviour or treatment.

“the consistency of measurement techniques”


      2. the way in which a substance holds together; thickness or viscosity.

“the sauce has the consistency of creamed butter”

Try as I might I couldn’t think of of a way to get definition 2 into a blog on coaching. Best I could do was a tentative link to the viscosity of water 😕

So I’ll just have to go with definition 1.


Our program is built around a consistent, relentless effort. We work 8/9 pool sessions and 3/4 gym sessions and we train gets every day.

We live by the hashtag #TNDO

Now I understand the need to recover and those sessions are built into the program as and when needed. I monitor fitness and fatigue as closely as I can and back off when needs must. But, we don’t not train…..ever.


If you aspire to be world class, you have to behave in a world class way – everyday, everywhere, in everything.

It’s no good deciding to world class today then tomorrow switching off and drifting through. There There is no point trying to be world class in the pool if your lifestyle doesn’t match.

The harsh (?) reality is that we are that which we repeatedly do.

There needs to be consistency before there will ever been success.

The good news is that this is something YOU control, you can decide at any point to adopt those habits that will help you achieve your goals.

If your goals and dreams are big enough they will drive you to make the hard choices and stand out from the crowd and to be exceptional.

It’s all up to you

Adventures in Swimming

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