Coaching the ‘Perfect Season’

Interview by Liz Hanson, Client Director – Athlete Assessments

The Mission Queensland Firebirds Netball Team have enjoyed an incredible 2011 Season, not only winning the ANZ Championship Grand Final, they did it undefeated for the entire season and breaking numerous team and individual records in the trans-Tasman series along the way. If ever there was a ‘perfect season’, they achieved it and this is another exceptional example to disprove the myth that you have to lose a Grand Final before you can win one. Our Inspirational Coach Roselee Jencke led her team all the way, in only her second year with the Queensland team.

Roselee Jencke Firebirds

1. Congratulations again on this incredible achievement.  What has been the most satisfying and rewarding part of this year?

Roselee Jencke:  Setting our big picture goal and smaller goals for the season and being able to tick one off at a time when we achieved them.  The other rewarding part of the season was seeing the confidence and the belief build within the team as the season progressed and seeing that vibrancy at every training and the standards set by the playing group then transferred through to our on court performances.

2. Why do you think people say you have to lose a Grand Final before you win one and how did you overcome that ‘myth’?

Roselee Jencke:  People believe this because they think it is impossible to achieve a perfect season – which is generally the case – however as we have proved this season it is a myth  They also believe a first year team in a grand final won’t be able to handle the expectation or pressure which comes with playing in a grand final and then with that experience the team will be better situated to win the following year because they have the experience and know how to handle the conditions.  I see it all too often in sport where a team will sit at the top of the table for a period of years and play grand finals but are always the bridesmaid and then they fall away altogether.  It is about making sure your playing group understand when the ‘ window of opportunity to win a grand final’ presents itself that they need to lift another level and make it happen for themselves right ‘now’ because the opportunity may not be there again.  It is also about acknowledging ‘yes’ we have played great netball to get to the grand final and then when you are there make sure you don’t do things any different to what you have done throughout the season.

3. What was your most valuable lesson you learnt this year?

Roselee Jencke:  Consistency.  Making sure the message I delivered each week was consistent with the team expectations.  Training was consistent as was match day. At all times the team understood the teams expectations of standards and what was required to win.

4. What made this year different to previous years?  What were the critical areas that helped make this year what it was?

Roselee Jencke:  Communication.  Having the team involved in the decision making of the program and then the delivery of it on and off the court.  It gave the team ownership of the teams results!!

5. Do you feel different as a coach having now won the Championship?  If so, how so?

Roselee Jencke:  I don’t feel any different now that I have won a Championship.  The pressure is still there to perform and to make sure my team is as well prepared as ever to give them the best possible chance to perform well and win.  It really is just business as usual for me.

6.  What is your coaching philosophy?  How has it changed since you first started coaching and how have you developed it over time?

Roselee Jencke:   My coaching philosophy is evolving, as I am as a coach, and I think it is important for this to happen as the sporting environment is always changing.  My coaching philosophy is very holistic – develop the athlete’s skills on the court to win and then develop the athlete as a person to have varied interests in their life and not just sport.  To coach so the athlete is engaged, challenged and questioning.  To communicate openly encouraging the athlete to seek answers for themselves within training and playing so they become thinking players and can make great decisions under pressure for their best performance in matches. And ultimately to ensure the athlete enjoys their sporting life and have achieved the best out of their talent.

7. Few elite athletes make the successful transition from player to coach and achieve what you have.  What do you think the key difference between being an athlete and being a coach is?

Roselee Jencke:   Being an athlete you only have ’you’ to worry about and often an athlete only sees things through their ‘me’ eyes.  A coach has to worry about the team and managing the team which can be upwards of 15-20 people and you have to have the ability to communicate and understand effectively many different personalities to get the team to function smoothly and to have the same common goal.  As a coach you have to be able to manage upwards and downwards across many different areas to achieve a happy team.

8. Is women’s sport different?  What is unique about coaching sports women compared to men?

Roselee Jencke:    I have never coached men however I think women are more perceptive than men and catch on very quickly if something is not right in the team.  They are more sensitive and as such you have to make sure you understand each individual and their communication style when communicating with them and delivering feedback.  Men are straight to the point and you can tell it that way. The problem is then sorted out and is forgotten; they move onto the next thing.  Women like communication to be more positive and constructive and not hard or confronting were feelings can be hurt and held onto for a while.

9. What are your goals for the future?

Roselee Jencke: Simple – to improve the Firebirds team for season 2012.

10. When you have retired from coaching, how do you want to be remembered?

Roselee Jencke:   A coach who understood her players, allowed them to achieve their best and have a lot of fun on the journey.

Congratulations to Coach Roselee Jencke, her coaching and support staff and the entire Mission Queensland Firebirds Team for their incredible year – we have enjoyed and been inspired with our work with you and look forward to going ‘Back to Back’ in 2012.   And an enormous THANK YOU to Roselee Jencke for providing her invaluable insight into being a Championship Winning Coach.  You are a true inspiration and officially our Inspirational Coach!

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