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Sports coaching

How important are coaches for athlete success and what is involved in coaching para athletes? Find out by watching this video.
© Griffith University

It is true that the ambition of Monique to swim for her country required determination, dedication, and an enormous amount of effort. But the road to Paralympic success requires much more. Let’s find out how coaches assist Monique in competing at the highest level.

Monique’s sport coaches

Experience, education, and a desire to continually improve is what drives the expertise of a coach and the level of support they can provide their athletes.

While training in the pool, Monique has had the support of several expert coaches during her years swimming as a para athlete, including:

  • Alex Hirscheur when she was training at the Melbourne Vicentre Swimming Club

  • Harley Connolly, her current coach, at the Lawnton Swim Club in Queensland

Harley is a high-performance swim coach and is no stranger to para-swimming. In 2016, he coached two athletes to win medals at the Rio Paralympics and was subsequently awarded the “Hancock Prospecting Paralympic Program Coach of the Year”.

Listen to Alex and Harley talk about their experience coaching Monique.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Coaching advice

The advice that coaches give and the techniques they use to solve problems to enhance performance become an integral part of the athlete’s way of training and perception on competition.

We have just heard in the video above from Monique’s coaches about their experience, understanding, and willingness to learn about specific coaching methods for para swimmers. This has allowed them to help her make small adjustments to her unique stroke and kicking style which can make a huge difference to her performance. Rowan Crothers, another paralympic swimmer who we met previously, has also had the benefit of para-specific coaching to improve his kicking style.

Let’s now hear from both athletes as they share the advice their coaches have given them and how this has impacted their training and performance.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Strength Coaching

In addition to swim coaches, Monique has the support of a strength coach who uses his experience to adapt muscle strengthening exercises and training methods to suit Monique’s unique abilities and challenges. This level of expertise of Monique’s coaches in the gym, as well as at the pool-side, provides Monique with greater choice over how to train. Find out more about strength and conditioning here.

Your task

The Australian Institute of Sport is Australia’s high performance sport agency and is responsible for leading Australia’s sporting success. Can you find, explain, and share in the comments below, a support service specific to elite athletes provided by the AIS. Refer to the AIS website.


The Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) has kindly provided some of the footage used in the Sports Coaching video above.

© Griffith University
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