Our Maties Sport HP Head Coaches had the opportunity to listen to and engage with legendary South African swimming coach, Rocco Meiring, at the 6th edition of the Coaches Forum for 2023. Coach Rocco is an Olympic gold medal winning swimming coach who coaches Tatjana Schoenmaker, the Tokyo Olympic champion and the fastest woman in the history of the world in the Women’s 200m Breaststroke. Tatjana’s training partner, Kaylene Corbett, came 6th in the same race meaning Coach Rocco had two of his swimmers in an Olympic final, an amazing achievement for a South African coach.
Coach Rocco shared insights into the key ingredients that led to Tatjana’s success at the Olympics, how he deals with failure as a coach when things do not go as planned, and what qualities he thinks are essential for success as a coach.
He also spoke about first-year student-athletes, saying “I think we underestimate the stress on first-year student-athletes and the change of transitioning from high school to university; it is a big change in someone’s life which can create a large amount of stress.”
He spoke about the performance expectations of coaches, saying “In a student-athletes 1st year, as coaches, we need to re-evaluate our performance expectations and focus on the student-athletes behaviour and their character. From 2nd year we can start looking for small successes that build momentum, and from 3rd year and higher we should be expecting the delivery of good performances consistently.”
Head Coach of Maties Athletics, Maurice Fisher, found the interaction insightful. “It was great to learn from Coach Rocco on how he identifies key markers that separate the great student-athlete performers from the good. It’s not just about having the physical capabilities but honing mental fortitude to respond to the demand of an elite student-athlete’s training and academic workload.”
The Coaches Forum is a monthly session attended by all Maties Sport HP head coaches and is designed to create a platform for the coaches to engage with one another, but also interact with highly experienced coaches from all facets of life, be it sport or business or politics. The Coaches Forum forms part of the holistic training and development of our HP Head Coaches and is managed within the PACER programme of the High-Performance Unit.
By Grant van Velden