Volunteer coaches are the backbone of New Zealand sport, donating hundreds of thousands of hours a year to help our tamariki stay fit and healthy. Yet most coaches are time-poor parents who are lacking in training and practical support. Now an innovative new coaching tool created in New Zealand is being hailed as a game-changing solution to support coaches so they can help keep kiwi kids in sport.
“Coaches have a huge opportunity to influence kids’ lives positively in immeasurable ways,” says CoachMate Co-Founder Michelle Walshe. “Conversely, research shows that kids who are trained by an unskilled coach are five times more likely to quit the sport the following year. This can have a significant impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of those kids. We know kids who stay active have higher self esteem, do better in school, and have improved mental health outcomes… so we’ve made it our purpose to do all we can to keep our kids in sport and the way we can meaningfully do that is to make the job of coaching easier.”
“I’m a mum of 4 kids myself. I’ve been on the sidelines of a dozen different sports over the last decade and I’ve seen how demanding the role of being a coach can be. Nearly all volunteer coaches are parents coming straight from work to training – it can be tough to keep kids engaged and give them a great sports experience week in and week out.”
CoachMate partners with national sporting bodies to transform their analogue coaching resources into bite-size videos and personalised training programs available on a phone app. Coaches can learn an activity in under 90 seconds, plan practices in minutes and upskill at their own pace. What’s better is the app is FREE for all volunteer coaches to use.
“The PDF diagrams that are made available by sporting bodies aren’t always easy to understand by an untrained coach, so we made that our first focus. We’ve been lucky to partner with Golf NZ, Basketball NZ and NZ Football to bring their content to life – with more sports to follow.” says CoachMate Co-Founder Leigh Kenyon. “One of the great things to come out of this, is that all kids playing these sports, regardless of their ability, location or who is available to coach, can have a rich sports experience.”
“It’s important we remember that the volunteer coaches are the unsung heroes of sport. Without their nurturing, time and effort we wouldn’t be able to sustain an entire sporting industry. They are literally the incubators of our sporting future and now we have the ability to give that support back to them.”
For early adopters of the technology, Basketball New Zealand and Golf New Zealand, partnering with CoachMate was a no-brainer when they could see how it could transform their grassroot games. Both have already signed on and licensed the app for 4 years. In just the past few weeks alone they’ve had over 600 coaches sign up, impacting thousands of kiwi kids.
“I believe CoachMate is a real game changer for basketball in Aotearoa,” says Basketball New Zealand CEO and former Tall Black, Dillon Boucher. “By putting expert resources and guidance into the hands of anyone across the country, we’re not only lifting the standard of the game, but more importantly, we’re making it easier for people like parents and teachers to get involved in coaching – and to feel supported when they do.
“Our goal is to make coaching basketball as accessible and simple as possible, because we know that the kids want to play given Basketball is the fastest growing sport in New Zealand currently. CoachMate allows us to keep up with that demand and ensure that all kids across the country can have a great experience playing the game.”
“CoachMate is one of the best things I’ve seen in sport,” says Golf New Zealand CEO, Dean Murphy. “Our mission is to enrich lives through golf and through CoachMate, we can help parents and coaches deliver great experiences for young people. In our view, great experiences lead to a lifelong love of sport so through CoachMate we are able to further advance our mission and make our sport as accessible and fun as possible.