Coaching on! Develop - Excel for Females

Female athletes significantly contribute to New Zealand’s success on the international sporting stage, yet females remain significantly under-represented in high performance sport leadership and coaching roles. (HPSNZ 2022) Sport NZ’s paid workforce survey 2017 found only 30% of High Performance coaches are female with coach development only reaching 33% of our female coaches. 

C.O.D-E F is a mentoring and coach development program designed specifically for female coaches who are currently working at the develop area of the VNZ coaching framework and wish to work through the excel award. It is targeted to those who have aspirations to coach our National teams.

The program is led by Kim Smith, our Performance Coach Advisor (Women's and Girls). Kim has created this program with support of the findings of the Women Coaches in Aotearoa survey, completed by High Performance Sport New Zealand and Massey University in 2019.

This program also meets targets within VNZs athlete development and performance strategy 2019-2030 and The Mahere Rautaki strategic plan 2023-2030. 

We aim to build confidence, capability and visibility. Providing clear pathways for female performance coaches in VNZ. 

Our learning occurs in safe environments where female coaches can connect and share, explore, implement, fail, learn and reflect on their knowledge and application throughout the 10-month program. C.O. D-E F is delivered in the following forums;

  • Monthly online coach development sessions.
  • A three-day, two-night live in wānanga.
  • In-person coach observation opportunities for giving and receiving feedback.

Topics will be prepared for the group to co-construct the course and decide the direction the course needs to take. If there are topics the group want to cover then Kim will be responsive and prepare accordingly.

  • Identity and authenticity
  • Why your athletes play
  • Accepting diversity and building relationships
  • Red head Blue head and the ability to give and receive feedback.
  • Communication and UDL principles for coaching. 
  • Theme weaving as a way to connect new learning to team culture.
  • No response is still a response - Sideline coaching
  • Going backwards to move forward. Backwards mapping a campaign plan.
  • How to make individuals better technically and tactically in one season.

VNZ are asking for expressions of interest for our inaugural intake of C O D-E F  (Coaching on! Develop - Excel for Females). 01 October 2023 - 01 July 2024

Expressions of interest close September Friday 15 September.

Successful applicants will be advised no later than Friday 29 September.

Related links:

- Programme outline and Frequently Asked Questions

- Smith begins in women's Coach Development Role

Smith begins in Women's & Girls coach role

Volleyball New Zealand has recently welcomed Kim Smith to the staff with the former Volley Fern set to impact the sport in a major way on and off the court.

Smith joins Volleyball New Zealand in the role of Performance Coach Advisor (Women and Girls) – a position made possible via funding support from High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ).

In one of 11 residency positions for 2023 in the sports landscape via the funding, Smith’s work for the next year with a focus on women and girls’ performance coaching. Specifically, her mahi will look to impact the following areas:

  • Build confidence capability and visibility of our past present and future female performance pathway coaches

  • Observe and work with National female coaches from other National Sporting Organisations to share quality practice strategies and tools that support our performance programmes.

  • Lead and mentor a group of approximately 8-10 female coaches who are currently working at the Develop level of the VNZ Coach Development Framework, with aspirations to work through the Excel award and coach our national teams

  • Work with VNZ performance team management personnel to build sustainable and consistent performance cultures across all eight performance teams.

Volleyball New Zealand Performance Manager Colleen Campbell says Smith is set to make a substantial impact in the coach development pathway.

“Through the opportunity with HPSNZ, Kim has secured a position for the next year that will enable specific work being done to identify, support and create a pathway for female coaches into our national programmes.”

Smith says the role allows her to draw on her strengths as a middle leader in education and apply them to her passion for volleyball.

“In both settings, I implore a growth mindset and have a keen eye for where we can improve our programmes and practice,” Smith said.

“This role has a large component of mentoring and leading personal professional development plans for female coaches.

“The opportunity to connect with all NSOs and observe female performance coaches and female environments in action is something I will benefit greatly from as will the female coaches I will work with.”

Coaches Blog #1: Parents

In the first edition of VNZ Coach Development Manager Shaun Matthews, he talks about the tools coaches can use to work more effectively with parents of their players.

What tools can we arm coaches with, to positively influence how parents support the experience of young people in sport? See below 5 tips for coaches to work more effectively with parents.

1. Have a clear philosophy of coaching/vision and share it with the parents.

A coaching philosophy is a series of guiding principles that inform your coaching practice and decision making. It’s your compass for coaching. Having a clear vision and sharing that with the parent body will help to provide clarity on your approach and the decisions you make, therefore preventing conflict.

Your team might have some guiding principles too. A team culture is comprised of three essential pillars that support the way a group functions and performs: their values, attitudes, and goals. Values: what they stand for. Attitudes: how they portray those values. Goals: the direction the group is heading. If you take the time to develop a team approach, share that with the parents too. 

* The parents are part of the team’s culture. Just like the player and coaching group, the parents can strengthen and weaken the culture.

2. The parents are going to play a role, help them better understand what that could look like.

A player’s role is to put in maximal effort at training and games. A coach’s role is to teach. A parent’s role is to support. 1. Support effective decision makers and problem solvers. Listen and ask questions, so that young people can find solutions to their own problems as opposed to fixing things for them. Encourage self-responsibility, curiosity, and creativity. 2. Focus on effort and improvement > winning and losing. Making mistakes is an important part of the learning process. Our young people should be encouraged to try new skills, take risks, and grow through making mistakes.

(Research in youth sport has shown that individuals have developed fixed mindsets when they have been praised for their ‘talent’ or results and outcomes. Children who have these experiences of praise for their talent often then find themselves in situations where they chose easier options and give up earlier than children who were praised for their effort. Dweck, 2006)

3. Include/inform parents where necessary.

The interpersonal relationships between the parent, coach, and athlete are often referred to as the athletic triangle. As players in your group mature and develop, the dynamic between each of these relationships can change. For a younger participant (up to year 11, depending on the individual) the coach:athlete:parent triadic relationship is important. When making decisions about players, their position, game time, etc. include the parents in those conversations. For an older participant (year 11 and up, depending on the individual) a coach:athlete dyad is more likely to appear, as a young person becomes more independent and self-responsible. Having an awareness of this dynamic during player development is an important consideration for coaches and parents.

4. Encourage the player group to share what the focus is for training/games etc.

I once coached a group who opted to play a zonal defence. One of the parents would instruct players to mark ‘man-to-man’ from the side-lines. As you can imagine, the group were confused, and it had a major impact on our progress. So, I asked the player group “do any of your parents know that we play a zonal defence?” (0/18). If the parents don’t know something, you might find them working against you (without any intention to). My advice… challenge the player group to reflect on the team’s approach with their parents/guardians. Not only will it help the parents support more deliberately, but it will also help the players understand the team strategy on a deeper level

5. Remind parents that times may get tough.

Player development is dynamic and non-linear. Each young person will develop at different rates from a technical, tactical, physical, and psychological aspect. This can often lead to a misconception that a player is plateauing, which can result in increased pressure, less enjoyment, lack of confidence, etc. There might also be occasions where, as a coach, you push someone outside of their comfort zone to illicit a learning response.

When times get tough, the parent’s role is not to smooth the journey. The parent’s role is to help with planning, guidance, how to respond, bounce back, etc. Challenges are necessary and inevitable. Motivation, dedication, and resilience are essential skills to develop. Can parents support young people to develop the habits, behaviours, and the mindset to navigate tricky situations for the next time they crop up?

Thank you for taking the time to read!


Shaun Matthews - 
VNZ Coach Development Manager

Matthews joins VNZ as Coach Development Manager

Volleyball New Zealand is excited to announce the appointment of Shaun Matthews as the new National Coach Development Manager. 

Since returning from a stint in the UK as a Performance Hockey Coach, Shaun has spent the last five years working at a regional level to build capability within the sports sector.

Shaun joins VNZ from Harbour Sport, where he was predominantly responsible for growing coaches and supporting those who appoint, manage, and develop coaches. Shaun is extremely passionate about coaching and developing people. He has coached hockey at all levels - from school teams, club sides, regional age groups, through to junior international teams.

“My fondest memory of volleyball is setting up a makeshift court on our front lawn at university and spending hours on end in the summer competing against each other," Matthews says. "

"What I love most about volleyball is the ability to play anytime, anywhere… inside during the winter, outside during the summer, as part of a competitive or social league, as well as down at the park with mates."

"I look forward to working with coaches and coach developers across the country in the coming years. My ambition is to teach the community about the methodology of coaching and ways to approach their coaching practice, while the community teaches me a bit more about volleyball specific knowledge” 

Shaun will begin with VNZ on Monday 19 September and he will make contact with Coach Developers and key stakeholders across our regions who influence coaching. 

Coaches connect in Auckland

Coach Development took centre stage in Auckland over the weekend as 10 regional representatives from around the country were involved in the inaugural VNZ Coach Developer Training Residential Course.

Spread over three days of learning, the course has been developed as a critical step in the on-going role out of the VNZ Coach Development Framework.

Led by the Coach Developer Trainer Team of Johann Timmer, Grant Harrison (Northland), James Davidson (Sport Waikato) and Pat Barwick (Sport NZ), the course created an environment for learning, challenge and practical implication over the two days.

VNZ National Partnership Manager Katie Horne said the residential created an ideal environment for those involved to add to their personal skillset as well as creating connections with others around the country.

“The weekend of learning was not only for those in the room as Coach Developers,” Horne said, “but for us as Trainers and VNZ Staff members to continue to build relationships, and better understand the different realities in the regions in the development of community coaches.

“I am excited to see the next phase of building our national approach to Coach Development, being in the communities and continuing to support these amazing people to impact and grow their coaches.”

Volleyball Bay of Plenty Coach Force Officer Brittany Alison-Carnie shared: “It was a great weekend where we all made great connections and learnings, that we look forward to taking back to our community.”

Volley Ferns and Volley Blacks coach Sebastian Gonzalez was also one of the attendees.

“It was an amazing weekend, full of learning and growing, having the chance to connect with coaches from all around the country. I’m looking forward to expanding those connections and make our sport better and better,” Gonzalez said.

VNZ would like to acknowledge the support from Sport NZ in ensuring the residential was an enjoyable and impactful learning environment for all participants.

VNZ Coach Developer Residential Workshop Candidates - August 2022

Josh Ovsenek – Volleyball Tasman
Neil Anderson – Volleyball Tasman 
Kelsey Higgins – Manawatu Regional Volleyball
Natalya Taylor – Manawatu Regional Volleyball
Seth Phork – Waikato Regional Volleyball
Brittany Alison-Carnie – Volleyball Bay of Plenty
Warren Smith – Volley South
Tomoka Saotome – Volley South
Bailey Line – Northland Volleyball
Sebastian Gonzalez – Canterbury Volleyball/VNZ National Coach

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