James has taken the time to tell us a little about himself and what drives him in his coaching.
It’s 2:30 on a Saturday, ref blows his whistle and the Kyles boys gather round the centre circle. My stomach is in knots, hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention and my mouth goes dry. All I can think is “Do your best boys and win”, I’d be lying if I said I was a coach who said taking part is what counts. Nope, it’s all about winning, being the best and making Kyles the best shinty team ever. I don’t phone the result in if we get beat, I find it too hard to say we got beat.
As you know I was not a shinty player myself, although I did score 12 goals in 5 games back in 2008 for the juniors. Occasionally I play at training too, just to show the boys I can actually hold a stick. It’s was only last week I scored a hat trick for Millhouse against Kames in the cage. Stormin Norman also took me for hitting practice when I was a boy up a Auchgoyle Farm.
Your probably wondering how I got into shinty and Kyles. My Gran (BettySmith) stayed in Millhouse (Auchgoyle Cottage, white one up on the hill).
I came for holiday since I was born. Worked away with Norman and Dra on the farm every holiday I could. I went to games with Norman and hit about with Douglas Nicolson when I could. I really enjoyed it, just wished my school did shinty and could of played more often.
After finishing University in 2005 I moved to Tighnabruaich. Started going along to games with Norman who was in his first year of management of the 1st team along with John Blair. Before 2005 I’d coached a few sports teams but was blown away by the amount of passion, athleticism and skill the Kyles players suddenly produced. I only saw them during the week, in the pub, on a farm or building a house. Suddenly at 2:30 they turned into sportsman with one mission in mind. To play Kyles shinty and to beat the opposition. I’d coached professional athletes who did not have half the commitment, passion, skill and raw determination that these men had. I wanted involved. I wanted to get these boys fit and I wanted to coach them one day!
My first training session was a nervous affair. I wasn’t just training any old sports person. These were kyles men highly respected in the village. Men with high expectations and men that would be quick to say if my training techniques were crap. Respect had to be earned so I had to be at the top of my coaching game.
I take my coaching very seriously and professionally. I believe in getting 100% out of every individual which should eventually mean you’ll get 100% out of the whole team. I spend a lot of time understanding how each player ticks and what will get the best out of them individually.
Being a coach means you lead by example, therefore less than your best at every training session and game is not acceptable.
Numbers started to pick up and the guys were responding to my training. I was loving it.
Training was going from strength to strength. The guys were getting fitter. There fitness during games was able to match their desire and determination. They could tackle for longer, hit more consistently over 90mind, get to balls first, read the game quicker, track back faster, run with the ball faster and last the full 90mins. I still wanted more out of them though.
I was invited to start taking the warm ups and first aid on a Sat. I was delighted and took this invitation very seriously, I still do. I was becoming part of the squad and starting to feel I was making a difference.
The summer season was introduced. We just finished the winter season and I decided to hit the boys with a pre season and a two night a week training schedule.
It was time to up it gear. I knew the summer season would require the same smart shinty player with great stick work but also required a faster, fitter and mobile athlete. I watched north teams and thought they were slower but stronger on the ball. With a summer shinty parks were going to be fast. we were going to be fast and fit. Along with being skilful players this combination was going to be the key to our success. The squad was young with a couple of experienced players thrown in too. I believed this was the moment to start training hard. Pushing them harder. Recognising the importance of training and preparing them the best I can for the game on Sat. That was my aim. Give the boys the best possible chance to win on Saturday. I knew it would take a while for all the squad to buy into this. But I also knew as the training got better the squad would get fitter and once the results started showing I would start building a squad to dominate shinty in future years.
I like to plan. I think years ahead when possible. I don’t like change and I don’t like surprises.
I believe preparation is everything. I don’t do late! I don’t do half hearted and I don’t do what’s the point! I’m hard on myself. Forgetting the warm up cones would send me into a panic. Daft I know, but it’s all about the preparation. I expect the boys to put 100% on the field. Therefore it’s only fair I put in the same off the field. That’s the deal.
Progression is the key. I don’t like the saying “sometimes you’ve got to take a step back to take two forward”. Going forward is the only was for me.
This is my eighth year coaching the Kyles squad. Since then the current squad has never gone back the way. That brings pressure which is a good thing for me, I love pressure. Thrive on it really and love a challenge.
My only concern is whether the Kyles boys can fulfil my expectations in years to come. Is there a limit to success for me and for the squad? Winning the quadruple can be beat by winning it two years in a row and so on and on. Basically I can’t see me stopping until this squad takes a step back the way, and if they do ill cross that bridge when it comes to it. It’s that fear and determination that makes you afraid of having to phone in a poor result, of getting beat, believe in what your doing and make sure you give 100%. It’s my passion and eight years ago found a team that felt the same. The Kyles way!
Some of the players thought I looked down during celebrations after winning the Scottish. I wasn’t!!!! Simply planning the next season and thinking……I want more of this. Anything less would not be good enough.
I hear “come on the Kyles” from the top line then feel a rush of honour and pride to be stood along these Kyles boys. It’s time boys, now lets rip this team apart.
Come on the Kyles!!!
James Iain PERLICH
Kyles coach 2005 – Present