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Coaches Q and A with Ward Coaching.


The coach/ squad

Who are Ward Coaching?

Sydney based Triathlon performance coaching specialists, we offer face to face and online individual programs to help athletes all over Australia and overseas, to reach their performance potential.

Founded by Bern and Nicole Ward we have been involved in Triathlon since 2004 and have competed in over 150 triathlons over all distances in Australia and abroad. We are highly passionate triathletes and triathlon coaches and have been trained by and worked under some of Australia’s leading coaches. We have experienced the sport at all levels, from beginner age group through to international elite, short course to Ironman.

Bern has been coaching since 2007 and is a Level 2 Performance Coach. Through hard work, consistent and focussed training Bern worked his way up to achieve age group podiums in 70.3 and Ironman, and has raced at Ironman World Champs whilst working at a senior level in management for a large corporate.

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Nicole has a degree in Sports Science and is currently a Level 1 coach but has just started her Level 2 qualifications. Nic took up Triathlon in 2005, and after quickly becoming an extremely competitive age group athlete placing overall in races and winning 2 Australian titles, she turned professional in 2007. Nic raced as a Professional Triathlete from Dec 2007-May 2013 whilst also working as an HR Consultant in Banking. As a professional athlete she achieved a high level of success competing at World Championships, securing over 25 Professional Podiums- including an Australian title and 5 ironman podiums, whilst also balancing her busy corporate career. Nic has been coaching for many years but has become more focussed since stepping back from her own racing.

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In 2014 we expanded our business and talented age grouper Laura Harris joined our coaching team. Laura is a PDHPE Teacher and a Level 1 coach who has been competing in Triathlons since 2008 over a range of distances from sprint to Ironman. Her passion and dedication to training has lead her to achieve many notable age group podiums, including an Australian title, and she has competed at several 70.3/Ironman World Championships whilst working as a PDHPE Teacher.

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Given our combined background and experience, we truly understand the demands of working busy corporate lives whilst trying to train to meet your race goals. We believe that together we have the skills, drive and experience to maximise your performance potential.

Where are you based?

Sydney's beautiful Northern Beaches

How did you come to the sport?

In 2004 we watched one of our good friends race Ironman Australia in Forster. We were so inspired and from there we bought bikes and the rest is history.

How did you come to coaching?

We were all drawn to coaching through our serious love of the sport, and passion for helping others achieve their best.

What type of coaching do you do?Face to face/ internet/ squad based?

All of the above depending on where the athletes live.

Do you have a favourite distance to coach?

We like to cover all distances from sprint to Olympic, 70.3 to Ironman however given our focus in long course from our own racing we especially love to work with people through the challenging journey of an ironman preparation.

Do you have a favourite discipline to coach?

No not really. You've got to be good at all of them so we focus on all.

What is the one thing that you think is unique about your coaching or squad?

Whilst we treat our athletes as individuals we have a really great team focus and inclusive environment. We have a holistic approach and spend a lot of time ensuring with the hard work of training that athletes also get a good balance with the social aspect and time to interact with each other. We've even managed to set up 3 successful relationships in the last few months and we have our first wedding coming up! We are also well known for our camps- whether it's a weekend or a week long we always ensure there is a strong balance of challenging training and fun social activities.

Do you think it is important for a coach to have competed in triathlon/ competed at a high level in triathlon/ competed at the distances they coach?

We definitely believe it makes a huge difference to be able to relate to and understand what an athlete is going through to provide them the best triathlon coaching experience. In saying that though there are still some fantastic coaches out there who haven't.

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How many people do you coach?

We work with a limited number, but have a maximum of 40 active athletes in our group at any one time.

Qualifications? (theoretical and/or real life experience)

Between us we have a huge mix of formal qualifications, but we also believe that blending these with real life experience is the key.

As a coach what are your goals?

Our goal is to be the best coaches that we can be and help each athlete we coach reach their maximum potential and individual sporting goals. We love nothing more than to see people achieve what they never thought was possible, and to share that journey of transformation and personal achievement is what drives us and makes us love what we do. We want to be innovative and continue to learn and grow ourselves. There's nothing better than staying on the front foot and engaging with other coaches and sharing different ideas and approaches.

Method/ style

How would you describe your coaching style?

The great thing is that the three of us have slightly different personal approaches which means we can work with a number of different styles and personalities with our athletes. There is a time and a place for various coaching styles, but we all very open and we believe that good two way communication is essential for a solid coaching relationship.

Do you follow a general philosophy or influence, e.g. Friel, Lydiard, etc.

Given our sports science background we do have a lot of scientific basis to our programs and we all love to read and keep up to date with the latest emerging coaching trends, but we don't follow any one specific philosophy.

What method do you use to communicate with your clients (phone, email, face to face)? How often?

All of the above and as often as required. We do have weekly face to face sessions for our Sydney based athletes, and phone and email contact depends on the individual's requirements.

How do you gauge performance improvements? (Races, training, tts, power analysis).

All of the above- obviously there isn't anything better than a race to gauge performance improvements but we also utilise monthly testing in our programs and we like our athletes to undertake time trials or compete in shorter races to monitor improvement. We also promote FTP tests with many of our athletes who are now training with power on the bike.

Do you believe in/use gadgets? (Pace watch/PM/hr monitor)

Yes but it does also depend on the individual athlete, their level of experience and their goals. Whilst we love to work with pacing and power in particular, we work purely on perceived exertion with many of our athletes and this is also successful. We believe a mix of 'feel' and real life stats are important.

How much feedback do you give your athletes on workouts? (Daily/weekly/as needed)

As needed, but mostly weekly at the face to face sessions.

Do you use training peaks or something similar?

We have used Training Peaks for many years now both as athletes and in our coaching. We are Training Peaks certified.

What's your experience working with people who work extreme hours and how do you adapt their programmes to that?

Most of our athletes work in banking or other intense corporate environments so we adapt our programs to suit individual needs. Given we each work extremely hard to balance our corporate careers with coaching and our own training, we understand that you need to consider work and life stress as part of overall training stress. Making this balance work for someone is a real strength area for us.

How individually tailored are your programs?

All our programs our individual. Although with athletes racing for the same major races, or those with partners who we also coach we try to incorporate similar sessions where we can.


Do you have a holistic approach?

Most definitely. Our coaching is flexible and based on an athlete's individual commitments and needs with a huge focus on balance. We take account of additional stress in your life through, work, school and family and will create a coaching program to maximise your individual fitness whilst maintaining balance in your non-sporting life.


Do you offer advice on diet, vitamins, supplements and alternative therapies (such as chiro, accu, yoga)

We have a lot of experience in these areas from working with numerous professionals over the years so provide limited advice to a certain level, but we have a great team of specialists in our network who we partner with and recommend our athletes to see where we can't provide the level of advice they require.

Athletes

What attributes do you think make an athlete easier to coach to their desired results?

An athlete must have the drive, determination, passion and commitment to training to achieve their individual goals. We will ultimately assist to drive and support these attributes but these internal drivers must come from within the athlete.

Do you specialise in or have a preference for novice athletes, seasoned athletes, etc, etc.

Our focus is more on seasoned athletes who have significant race goals or athletes who are relatively new to triathlon but have some type of sporting background that is adaptable to triathlon.

Would you be honest with me in regards to my goals and aspirations?

Yes. If your goals are unrealistic we will tell you how it is and make some other recommendations.

Have you ever sacked a client who didn't follow your advice?

Yes but only a rare few. There are always going to be a few athletes who come along from time to time and don't like to listen. If they are compromising their own well being then it's in their best interest to end the coaching relationship.

Have you coached mature athletes?

How do you treat them differently? Yes we have a few mature athletes but not many. We do incorporate age specific adaptations to their training program to ensure they have adequate and more recovery throughout their program. We focus more on specific intensity with more recovery rather than volume, and strength training is also really important.

Do you understand the recovery needs of older athletes?

Yes recovery in older athletes is extremely important to us (see above).

What percentage of your athletes survive the training injury free?

It's hard to put a percentage on this as some athletes will experience some minor niggles from time to time that needs to be managed. We get a number of athletes who come to us because they have experienced injury from previous training so our focus has been to assist them to work through rehab and bring them back. To ensure that our athletes get through the training injury free, we are really focussed on progressive training and focus on maintenance and prevention of injury, through including core/stretch workouts and promoting regular maintenance to avoid injury- such as massage, chiro and physio intervention.

Do you practice what you preach?

Ha ha yes we'd like to think so.
We are all still training ourselves, balancing corporate careers, coaching and enjoying life- so most definitely.

How do you look at intensity vs volumes?

This is event specific and depends on what specific training phase an athlete is in. Overall, we believe that balancing the two to the individual's experience, requirements and phase of training is essential.

Successes

Everyone's idea of success is different. Tell me a couple of your success stories both as a coach and with athletes you train.

Between us we have coached multiple age group athletes over the last 8 years to World Championship level across all race distances, this includes several podium finishes. We have also had a few Asia Pacific and Australian Age group titles. More importantly though, we have assisted all our athletes to achieve significant personal best and individual improvements.

One of our major coaching highlights to date was in 2013 with Laura Harris. Laura had an incredible year, achieving several age group podiums across 70.3/long course events, a win in her age group for an Australian title in her first Ironman, and then she went on to a top 5 Age Group podium finish in World 70.3 Champs, as well as backing up to a 13th place in Ironman World Champs one month later. Since then Laura has continued to progress consistently and is now not only on the podium in her age group but has had some top overall placings, and in 2014 her first race win.

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Many of our athletes we have worked with over the years and developed into now being consistent age group top 5 and podium finishers across various Australian races. A number of of our female athletes have also achieved overall podium places and race wins across various triathlon, duathlon and running events across Australia which is pretty awesome.

Cost and what do I get for this? 

Check out our website for a summary of our service offerings and fees. Please note, we do work with a limited number of athletes but please do not hesitate to contact us for a chat to see if we can help, we'd love to hear from you;

http://www.wardcoaching.com.au/coaching-services/

 

Also jump on line and like their facebook page and read more about Ward Coaching   https://www.facebook.com/wardcoaching

 

 

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