As part of UK Coaching’s Coaching Week, Mikki Austin tells us about her coaching philosophy and the coaches who have inspired her throughout her career…
How would you explain your coaching philosophy?
I work off two main pillars – hard work and honesty. All I know is to graft and get my hands dirty. As an athlete, I’ve always lived by a quote which says ‘Champions are made when no-one’s watching’, and I really believe that. Your destiny is in your hands, and a lot of that has to be done in your own time where nobody sees it, and you don’t get any praise for it. And all we want, as athletes, is honesty – to know where we stand, for better or worse. Sometimes the truth really hurts, but at least that way you give power back to the players. This is the situation, what do you want to do with it? We all hate the unknown, so if I can at least be upfront and honest then everybody knows where they stand and there’s no blurred lines.
What would you think makes a good coach?
The ability to juggle, to think on the fly, and adapt to situations. This job is very much assess-as-you-go, especially when you’re in-game, so you need the confidence to live-and-die by your own decisions.
I’m always learning, always adapting, and always trying to improve my skills and knowledge. People falter when they think they know all there is to know, or have done all there is to do.
You have to be willing to trust other people, your assistant coaches and the players and people that you surround yourself with. Everyone has their own strengths, and if you have trust in other people and you play to those strengths then it only really helps you as well. It’s never just a one-man job.
Is there a coach who you particularly look-up to, who has influenced you – and what made them so good?
I’ve been so blessed in my netball journey to have been taught by so many amazing coaches. Probably the first coach that springs to mind is (former England Commonwealth Games Coach) Maggie Jackson. She was the first woman who saw something in me as a 15-16-year-old rottweiler tearing around the court. She gave me my first opportunity to step into Hertfordshire Mavericks, and I am forever grateful for the wisdom that she instilled in me.
Probably the most influential, on life in general, is (former Storm Director of Netball) Tamsin Greenway. She is one of the most educated coaches that we have – her knowledge is impeccable. She really brought out that passion, in terms of educating players, the coaching side of things, and made me want to be Head of a Superleague franchise one day. She started that fire within me.
I’ve probably tried to take a little bit from each of every coach I’ve worked with. One of my college coaches when I was growing up was (England Netball Defence Technical Coach) Amanda Newton. She was brutal but I loved it. Another one of my regional coaches was Jo Mannion, who was one of the most cut-throat coaches England Netball had at the time.
All of them had a tough-love approach, and didn’t tell you what you wanted to hear but told you the truth, and backed that up with valuable evidence. I guess I see a lot of that in me, so our players can see that it’s always coming from the right place.
My job is to make them better, improve them as people first and as players very closely second. I try to care, and show the girls that come through our training environment that there’s always a learning process, it doesn’t matter your age or your experience, providing you’re willing to grind and you’re willing to put your individual prowess aside for the good of the team then then you will always achieve here.