Coaching Association of Canada

Coach Q & A: Peter Lawless

November 16, 2011

A recent winner of his second Petro-Canada Coaching Excellence Award, and the newly elected President of the Board of Directors for Coaches of Canada, Peter Lawless is a graduate of the National Coaching Institute and a Chartered Professional Coach holding NCCP Level 4 certification. He has coached high performance athletes in three sports (sailing, athletics and cycling), attending World Championships or Paralympic Games in each. Peter currently coaches a number of elite athletes including 2010 UCI World Championship H3 Road Race Bronze Medallist Mark Ledo, 2011 UCI Paracycling World Cup Champion (H1) Karen March, and current 100m and 200m World Record holder Michelle Stilwell (Athletics).

In his “day job” Peter is a lawyer who focuses much of his practice on sports law. Peter has represented coaches, athletes and sports organizations in selection disputes, harassment claims and in numerous other disputes. Peter also conducts anti-doping matters for CCES before the Doping Tribunal and has represented CCES at the International Court of Arbitration for Sport. Peter also sits on the Board of Directors of the Pacific Institute of Sports Excellence, and Coaches of Canada.

Coach’s Full name: Peter Lawless
Province: British Columbia
Sport(s): Cycling & Athletics
NCCP Status: Level 4 certified

What is your greatest coaching moment/achievement?

Karen March winning the overall Paracycling World Cup title (class H1) and receiving the White Jersey in 2011 by never, even for a second, giving up and fighting all year to get better and better.It’s a bit hard to pick as I have been lucky to have been a part of a number of great moments. I will offer three moments:

  1. Mark Ledo fighting back from a mechanical to take the sprint for bronze at the Paracycling Road World Championships (class H3) in 2010.
  2. Michelle Stilwell owning the podium with two gold medals in Beijing in 2008 after returning from major surgery (Athletics, class T52).

What are three things you think every coach should know?

  1. It’s not about you. You are part of it but only a part.
  2. Listen first, talk second.
  3. Be relentless in your pursuit of excellence. Never stop, never quit – ever.

Why did you decide to become a coach?

I just sort of fell into it. Growing up as a competitive sailor took me into teaching sailing which led to coaching. Then I was hanging around an athletics track with my now wife and got roped into athletics. From there I have bridged over to cycling. All the while I have been amazed to be a part of and contribute to people seeking excellence. If there is a decision I make it’s to do whatever I can to assist in people grabbing a dream by the horns and seeing where it takes them.

How would your athletes describe your coaching style in three words?

Relentless, positive and focussed.

What is the most important thing you learned as part of your NCCP training?

The need to keep developing and learning. It is never ok to sit back and do the same things over and over – that is how we get beaten. I need to keep taking courses and challenging myself to find new and better ways to coach and lead.

Why is being a coach the best job in the world?

I am privileged to have the opportunity to be a part of pure excellence. There aren’t many jobs in the world where you get a chance to achieve the things that sport lets you achieve and by being a coach I get an opportunity to play a role in the development and production of inspiration – wow!

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