Have had the great privilege to work alongside Haydyn Knowles (Head Conditioning Coach for the Sydney Roosters Rugby League Club) and Leeroy Gray the past few days. Leeroy works as the lead strength and conditioning team alongside legendary coach, Greg Mills as part of the coaching team for Usain Bolt.
We have been speaking as part of a strength and conditioning panel in Sydney over the past week. The message from Leeroy is loud and clear: Concentrate on the basics. Do them well. Do them consistently. Believe in yourself.
This is pretty much the mantra of Racers Track Club in Jamaica. This dedicated group have produced athletes of the highest standards we have seen. These have included Yohan Blake, Kim Collins, Daniel Bailey, Michael Frater, Warren Weir and of course Usain Bolt – just to name a few.
Much is known of Bolt’s progressions as an athlete from the age of 15 onwards he has proven to be a prodigious talent. But it is the team behind the man and the squad that is fascinating. One cannot help but get the impression that the Head Coach, Greg Mills – is a father figure to the squad. The esteem with which he is held cannot be overstated. And then, there is a dedicated group of coaching staff – some developing as mentees as well as a host of others in ancillary services such as massage.
I asked Leeroy what kept him motivated – other than working with the fastest man we have ever seen! His answer was simple, quick and concise. “I love what I do.”
When I reflect on my own coaching – about 35 years now – I asked myself the same question. My response wasn’t quite as quick as that of Leeroy. But I was more than happy with my internal response. It was one of knowledge and learning. Whilst ever I am eager to learn and discover ways to improve, it shows that I am still growing as a coach. Still moving forward. It is indicative that the best is yet to come.
I picked up a number of gems working alongside Leeroy Gray and I look forward to implementing them into my future programs. But the best lesson I learned was from the athletes and students with whom I have been presenting to over the past week. Enthusiasm is a matter of attitude – and its contagious. Learning engenders enthusiasm. For me, coaching is about helping others to achieve their goals and dreams. And really; coaching is an ongoing learning experience.
Thanks Leeroy for your time and wisdom whilst you have been here in Sydney. Look forward to having you visit us again in the near future.