Coaching Association of Canada

Coach Q&A: Michael Simonson

August 2, 2011

Coach’s Full name: Michael Simonson
Province: Alberta
Sport(s): Rowing
Coaching role: Head coach, senior competitive program – Calgary Rowing Club
NCCP Status: Level 3 certified


What is your greatest coaching moment/achievement?
Often I associate this question with a coach who is nearing retirement as opposed to someone who sees themselves as being new to the role (If you can say 10 years is new).    However, my highs as a coach come from working with an individual who is new to the sport of rowing, and assisting them in reaching their goals.  To me it doesn’t matter what the goal is -- whether it be Canada Summer Games, Olympic Games or simply a regional regatta. Working with an athlete who applies themselves to achieve their goal I will always consider to be a special achievement. 

What are three things you think every coach should know?
1) Your goals are not the athlete’s goals – listen to your athletes.  Despite what you the coach wants, not all athletes aspire to be Olympic champions.
2) Every athlete is different – not all athletes like to be pampered, or conversely – not all athletes like to be scolded. 
3) Plan – be prepared for anything because often anything does happen and if you are unprepared your athletes see this and will cast doubt on your abilities. 

Why did you decide to become a coach?
When I retired from sport I was approached by the President of the local rowing club who asked me if I wanted to coach recreational rowing.  I loved it.  Recreational athletes brought back my love for rowing that I had lost as a competitive athlete and over time, I slowly expanded my role in the sport to where I am today. 

How would your athletes describe your coaching style?
I really don’t know.  I hope they would say that they appreciate the work that I do and that they enter events prepared, confident and excited for the challenges that await them.  I personally see my style as being uplifting and encouraging and believe my athletes would say the same.

From my standpoint, we have a group of athletes that are very supportive of one another, and I believe my style certainly contributed to the creation of this environment in some way. 

What is the most important thing you learned as part of your NCCP training?
The many facets involved in being a coach.  A coach wears many hats and the NCCP program taught me that a successful coach is not just someone who understands the technical side of their sport.  The NCCP gives the coach the education they need across a variety of subjects (nutrition, mental training, programming and sport specific roles) so that they can wear these hats and wear them well. 

Why is being a coach the best job in the world?
There is absolutely nothing like inspiring a new generation of athletes in the sport you love.


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