Coach Borlee Encourages Irish Sprints Coaches to Believe in Magic


Athletics Ireland Sprints Coach Mentoring Programme is out of the blocks and off to a positive start following the recent visit of distinguished Belgian sprints coach Jacques Borlee to the Sport Ireland Institute on the weekend of December 8th and 9th .

The Sprint Coach Mentoring Programme aims to support the learning and development of Irish sprint coaches over an initial two season period up to Tokyo 2020. The programme provides strong guidance and support from internationally successful coach mentors through the provision of theory and practical workshops, group discussion forums together with one to one mentor sessions. Coach mentors will also lead group coaching sessions for coaches and their athletes. It is envisaged that on completion of the programme, coaches will be better equipped to continue to guide the positive progress of our country’s leading sprinters.

While Jacques Borlee’s visit to Ireland was short, on Saturday he presented to the coaches in detail his coaching philosophy which has left a lasting positive impression on the Irish sprint coaches present.

Patricia Lawler, coach to Irish International sprinter Marcus Lawler, had her inner belief as a coach awakened.  “Jacques Borlee was very inspiring.  I must say a very enjoyable and captivating weekend.  His philosophy awakened an inner belief of mine, that as well as hard work and honest endeavour there is another side - the emotional and overall wellbeing of body, mind and soul. That plays a huge part in the make-up of the elite athlete. For me the stand out words were 'fluidity', magic and dream.....  What a humble gentleman”

Throughout the weekend it was evident to see Jacques Borlee’s passion for coaching and moulding athletes into high performers on the world stage. His professionalism and attention to detail was evident through the weekend.

This was something Jeremy Lyons, coach to multiple Irish international sprinters found insightful. “The weekend gave me a great insight into all aspects of what is needed to coach to the consistently high level of Jacques. The attention to detail he has from the scientific, analytical and innovative side to the softer more empathetic side was an inspiration and has got me thinking about what changes I can make to my coaching."

On Saturday the group discussion forum led by Jacques presented coaches with the opportunity to discuss various topics. This offered further insight into the mind of a master coach, something Shane McCormack, coach to Irish 100m and 200m record holder Phil Healy, found inspiring. “The weekend was a great insight into the mind and the substance behind a world class coach like Jacques Borlee. Seeing how he thinks, plans and executes on a daily basis is something that inspires me as a coach to want to improve. Everything a mentoring programme should be.”

Jacques led athletes through a mobility session to the calming music of composer Chopin on Sunday morning . Throughout this session Jacques reiterated the need and importance for calmness and serenity in our training environments. Something Kay Bannon, coach of Irish international Mark Smyth, found wonderful. “I would like to thank Athletics Ireland for organising the Sprints Coach Mentoring Programme. It was a pleasure to be in the company of obviously one of the world’s top coaches Jacques Borlee. It was a wonderful learning environment which surely must come across also in Jacques role as a coach. For me the role of the brain in sports performance was the highlight, something that is often overlooked and also the importance of team spirit, calmness, serenity and the beautiful movement of the athlete when things are in balance. Those who don't believe in magic will never have it 'believe in magic' was one of his quotes of the day; he certainly left me believing that the magic can be found.”

For the conclusion of the weekend Jacques discussed in detailed his current training programme which was followed by questions from the coaches present.

National Sprints Coordinator Daniel Kilgallon said “We must thank Jacques Borlee for an informative, thought provoking and hugely inspiring weekend of learning.  Jacques was at all times accommodating and open in his interactions with coaches and athletes. On numerous occasions throughout the weekend he informed me of his admiration for the strong spirit of the coaches present and their commitment to furthering their development as coaches. The weekend with Jacques was a very satisfying launch to the our mentoring programme.”

Session two of the Sprints Coach Mentoring programme will take place on January  23rd  2019 when Dr. Kate Kirby will facilitate an evening workshop for programme coaches titled “Looking after yourself when your job is to look after others - Self-care strategies for coaches”.

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