2 December 2017
Lindsay Watson - what an impact
Over the last couple of decades, Lindsay Watson has been one of the most curial coaches in the development of athletics, athletes and coaches in NSW.
He has been involved extensively in coach education, mentoring of many colleagues and coaching athletes at all levels from school, club to elite. He has learnt from, compared notes with, and taught, the very best coaches in Australia and overseas.
Two of the various programs he has been involved with highlight his impact. The NSWIS emerging distance program has without doubt developed NSW distance running to equal the former powerhouse Victoria. More recently his work at Scots College has been a model program of introducing athletics to teenagers.
The positive impact and influence by Lindsay Watson on coaching in NSW is immeasurable. Read here about his journey and coaching philosophy.
How did you become involved in coaching?
My son and daughter were in St George Little Athletics, and started training under a coach out in the Sutherland Shire area. I was concerned that they may be doing too much volume for their age so I enrolled in a coaching course. I then started a squad from St George, not including my kids (for next two years). I continued in upgrading qualifications and the rest is history.
Were you an athlete? What sports did you participate in?
I played various school sports - rugby league, water polo, swimming, diving, at state and national level. Post school there was more rugby league and water polo and I added surfing and snow skiing.
You have coached a variety of discipline. Which do you enjoy the most?
Always track events, always have had a mix of male and female athletes, the distribution varied within the group over the years. The events expanded and changed as the athletes matured, change body shape, grew into events. Also with success in some events, this in turn attracted other athletes to join squad.
As for a favourite event, I don’t really have one but as a group of events,
400m, 400m Hurdles, 800m and steeple, if I had to choose, I don’t really know.
Some highlights or special moments?
Highlights have including an athlete I coached, selected and medal for the Para Olympics 1992 then again in 1996, and another athlete selected for Atlanta Olympics 1996. Another highlight is Youcef Abdi’s sixth place in Olympic final in Beijing and being a team coach for Australia at London Olympics.
Special moments vary including having some time with my son Toby (Australian road cycling team physiotherapist) at the London Olympics, Cathy Freeman’s win in the 400m at the Sydney Olympics and seeing David Rudisha run a world record in 800m at the London Olympics.
Why coach? Enjoyable aspects of coaching?
I love the challenge to try and get athletes perform their best, to help them to achieve Personal Best.
To develop athletes within the sport and more importantly outside the sport, looking at balancing sport, social, education and family.
Enjoyable aspects are the day to day, month to month, year to year development of athletes. Coaching at school (Scots College), getting the year 7 boys in and watching them grow as athletes and young men, tracking them through to year 12 and beyond. Teaching drills relating to technique in running; linking drill to actual running technique, also linking mobility.
Coaching philosophy? Who have been your coaching mentors? Coaching Philosophy For athletes to get the most out of themselves, on and off the track, a balance in their life (family, education, social, training, friends, fun) is key. Athletes also need to enjoy what they are doing with running both in competition/training.
Mentors have been Peter Fortune, Bruce Scriven, Kevin Prendegast, Roy Boyd (God help me four Victorians !!) and Michael Dooley NSW and Lyn Forman WA.
I have been comfortable in approaching any coach for advice and some coaches I have spoken at length with are David Hemery (British), Luiz de Oliveira (Brazilian), Steve Ovett (British) and Brent McFarlane (Canadian). These Coaches and others have always given readily and happily sat down for lunch and a chat.
I also learn from and pick up ideas from young coaches and athletes too.
Do you have any advice for other coaches?
Get a balance with your life and coaching. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Enjoy what you are doing and remember you are coaching not curing cancer.
Coaching career highlights?
Coaching athletes to qualify for Olympics, world championships, world juniors, Commonwealth Games, and trying to get them to run a within 1% of a PB or a PB at a specific meet. Coaching athletes to four Olympic Games and two Paralympics. Watching a squad member celebrate running a 1500m PB of 3:35.2 or another jumping up and down with tears of joy, as she was so, so happy.
David Tarbotton for Athletics NSW
Image: A festive Lindsay Watson with the late John Atterton