Matt Dallow is one of the coaches recently named to take up positions supporting Athletics New Zealand’s Rio 2016 Performance Project. He returned to New Zealand in 2007 after first leaving in 1992. During his time away he lived primarily in Arizona with stints in Southern California and London, England. He has represented New Zealand in three sports and the USA in one.
The editor caught up with the coach for this following interview…
Tell me about the role you have in your position as one of the coaches supporting Athletics New Zealand’s Rio 2016 Performance Project.
My position as National Event Coach for Shot and Discus is geared towards assisting coaches and athletes nationwide in their specific areas of need. My goal is to find and help provide the best resources we have available to those who both need and deserve it across these events.
Tell me briefly about the other roles you have had in sport.
I have been a coach in a number of roles outside of athletics. I have had extensive involvement in rugby in both New Zealand and the USA. I have spent years working as a consultant and have worked with athletes in rugby, American football, basketball, swimming, triathlon, bobsleigh, strongman, tennis…. - I am sure to be forgetting some.
What got you into coaching and when did you first become a coach?
I became a coach after an injury ended my training as a decathlete at the University of Arizona. When it became apparent I would not compete again I was offered a position at the University coaching multi-events while I finished my degree. My coach at the time was Mike Maynard (now Head Track and Field Coach at UCLA) and I owe a lot to him and his belief in me both as an athlete and coach.
How many years have you been coaching?
It started as an interest about 16 years ago but my first full-time job as a coach started in 1997.
Where are you based?
Currently I am living in Dunedin.
How did you first become involved in athletics?
My family have all been involved in athletics and as the youngest child, I first went to Waitemata Athletic Club at age four.
Are you attached to an athletics club?
No club affiliation currently.
What disciplines in athletics do you coach?
I have coached all events at different times and I do believe a good coach should be able to manage athletes in any discipline or any sport for that matter. Coaching is about solving problems and knowing how best to deliver the answers.
Why do you coach?
I believe coaching is about trying to make a difference. Playing a part in maximizing an athlete’s development and having them realize their potential is very rewarding. .
As a coach what motivates you?
I thrive on competition and finding an edge. I like finding answers and I like winning.
Vince Lombardi is credited with saying “Winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing”. We all want to be winners. If not we wouldn’t compete.
What do you get out of coaching and what’s the most rewarding thing for you about coaching?
I earn my living coaching as it is my chosen career path. The rewards are not only financial though as it is the thrill of victory and being a part of the winning experience that sets coaching apart.
What qualifications do you have as an athletics coach and how necessary have these qualifications been for you?
I do not hold any track and field coaching qualifications and have never found them necessary in my coaching roles. I think qualifications are a good way to get introduced to, or up-skilled in, coaching if practical opportunities are not available. Having trained and coached in the U.S. Collegiate system I believe experience and practical knowledge gained through continual exposure to any sport are more valuable than qualifications in long term development as a coach.
How many athletes do you have in your coaching group?
In my business as a Performance Specialist I am currently contracted to work as Strength & Conditioning coach with the Highlanders Rugby Franchise based in Dunedin. I also consult and coach various individual athletes. In total I work with between 30 and 40 athletes depending on the time of year.
What sort of ages are these athletes?
Ages range from 17 to 35. Aside from my usual routine I have also recently been helping a local 12 year old shot put / discus thrower.
How often do you meet your athletes for training?
I very seldom have a day when I do not coach someone.