Anna Smythe understands well the impact a great coach can have on an athlete’s performance and life.
A representative track and field sprinter, Anna competed all over the world during a 15-year athletics career.
“I was lucky enough to train with a really special athletics coach for a long time and it opened my eyes to the influence a coach can have, not only on sporting performance and development but also on many other aspects of life,” she said.
“For a young athlete, a coach can be a mentor and a friend and someone who can help them to grow as a person and develop self-confidence, motivation and ownership, social skills, teamwork, and so on. I find the problem-solving aspect of coaching fascinating. It’s rarely a straightforward onwards-and- upwards journey.”
Anna, who is based on the coast just North of Dunedin, has been involved with the Southern Institute of Technology for 15 years, helping develop and facilitate both the health sciences and sports courses.
With a Bachelor of Physical Education, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts for good measure, Anna brings plenty of knowledge along with her practical experience to the New Zealand Certificate in Sport Coaching.
The certificate provides a great grounding in coaching, Anna said.
“The course covers many different aspects of coaching, including theory of exercise prescription, injury prevention and management, nutrition, psychology, as well as writing coaching sessions and programmes for individuals and groups of athletes.
“Students are required to work with individuals and groups, considering their characteristics and needs to design sessions to target specific goals.”
Family, horses, art and exploring are other features of Anna’s life.
“Recently I’ve also been trying to be a better gardener. When not facilitating I am mostly chasing my two young boys, Taika and Gabriel, around and going on adventures with them, but also riding horses and managing a very small horse breeding business, painting and hiking. We are lucky enough to live a short walk from a gorgeous beach and spend a lot of time playing down there.”
Anna said the nature of the students who enrol in the certificate meant that she continues to learn alongside them.
“Most of the students in sports coaching are mature students returning to study as sport and coaching is a passion. They are really keen to learn and develop their coaching skills and they are so much fun to work with.
“The huge range of sports that students are involved in means the material I’m reading is always different and interesting, and often I learn something new too. I love working from home and being able to run to the beach or get out for a ride to break up the day. Mental and physical wellbeing, having a balanced lifestyle, is really important to me and another thing that coaching can help to develop.
“I always get a buzz out of the feedback from students regarding the sports psychology work and the huge benefits they see in their athletes. Some students are achieving amazing competitive results with their athletes and others are helping kids to feel positive and confident – both are outstanding results.”