In this issue we interview Tauranga based coach Todd Blythe about his background and coaching philosophy. Todd was one of New Zealand's top sprinters in the early 1990's with best times of 10.53s for 100m and 21.00 for 200m, times that still rank him in the New Zealand all-time top 20.
How did you first become involved in athletics?
I always did athletics since I was five years old. When I eventually went to Hamilton Boys in the fifth form (year 11), I met up with my then coach (Murray Gutry) and became a lot more serious about the sport. Murray played a pivotal role in my success as an athlete and he has also helped me immensely now as a coach.
Have you always been involved with only athletics or have you had other roles in sport?
Up until this year I have mainly been involved in rugby as a player and haven’t really been involved in athletics in any capacity over the past 15 years. In saying that, when I went back down to the track it was like I had never left with many of the same people still down there – which was great to see.
What got you into coaching and when did you first become a coach?
One day I got a call out of the blue from Joseph Millar who asked me if I could come down and give him some tips and assistance when his coach (Mike Corboy) was unable to make it down. Just after that Mike asked me if I was able to take over his role on a more permanent basis – so I did.
How many years have you been coaching?
Almost one! (In June.)
As a coach where are you based?
In Tauranga. There seems to be a wave of excellent up-and-coming sprinters in the region, which is really positive for the region and sport.
Are you attached to an athletics club?
Not officially, but the club that my athletes belong to is Tauranga Ramblers.
Which athletics disciplines do you coach?
Predominantly 100m and 200m, but I have a couple of athletes who may branch out to 400m and I have a hurdler now (which I know nothing about...)
What is your coaching philosophy?
My philosophy is if you put in the hard work, you’ll get the rewards. I believe that ultimately it is the athlete’s own personal drive that will determine how far they will go in the sport, so my role is to ensure that they have the best chance of getting there.
Why do you coach and what motivates you?
I coach because I get a real satisfaction from helping my athletes and seeing them succeed in their goals. I also enjoy a challenge and being an athletics coach is definitely that! I hope that I can also get the athletes that I currently have to eventually pass on what I have taught them to other athletes as the sport needs more coaches.
What qualifications do you have as an athletics coach and how necessary have these qualifications been for you?
None as I am just new back into the sport so am currently relying on “practical experience” to get me through. I believe that a combination of both qualifications and experience are ideal to excel at coaching. Qualifications provide an excellent grounding on the basics, while it’s only from experience that you can tell when your athletes are looking worn out, or they are not running as planned, and make adjustments to their training regime accordingly.
I have found the elite sprint coaches meetings hugely beneficial to my development as a coach.
How many athletes do you have in your coaching group?
I currently have 6 athletes.
What sort of ages are these athletes?
They range from 16 to 19. The group is really good because they are all at a similar level to each other and they can push each other along at training.
How often do you meet your athletes for training?
I currently meet my athletes twice a week, but they train at least six times.