I am tempted to weigh the latest book by Galwayman Paul Kilgannon, because it is a truly remarkable tome. Its name may be Be The Best You Can In Sport - but it is the second headline that sums it up. “A book for Irish youth.”
Mr Kilgannon is a well-known and highly respected coach and author in sporting circles. A teacher in Bushypark NS by profession, his work has enthralled coaches and team managers for the past few years. His first book called Coaching Children in Sport – The CARVER Framework was released in November 2018 and was well received both nationally and internationally. Now the approach outlined in that book is set to be applied to different spheres other than sport with global opportunities.
His current book is full of invaluable information, inspiration and insights and is the perfect tool for any young person who is seeking to be the best they can be in sport, and indeed beyond. It is the perfect seasonal gift for the sportsperson in your life.
Mr Kilgannon has gathered material from over 50 respected coaches including Mick McCarthy, Stuart Lancaster and Billy Walsh as well as contributions from numerous Irish sporting greats such as Henry Shefflin, Bundee Aki, and Kieran Donaghy.
The book also includes input from coaching academics and sports science professionals, to produce a comprehensive guide for every young sportsperson.
“I’m hoping the book will make a genuine contribution to Irish sport and society as a practical, usable and inspiring guide for self-improvement and self-coaching in sport and beyond,” said Paul. “I saw a huge need to provide the young sportsperson with a comprehensive resource that they could trust and use as a guide to help them reach their potential inside, and outside, of sport.
How to work on that desire to excel
“I have found that most young sportspeople have an innate desire to excel and either don’t know how, or don’t have the required support structures around them in order to do so. My hope is that this book will help answer the many questions they may have and inspire, and steer them to become the best version of themselves no matter their circumstances.
“I have brought together 54 contributors across 29 subject areas, encompassing sports performance, sports science and lifestyle. It is a mixture of information, practical tools and skills, as well as insights and inspiration. The coming together of Irish-based sport stars, coaches, sports science professionals and coaching academics is probably the most unique part. I feel funnelling all their thoughts, learnings and ideas into one place for the reader is of genuine merit.
He feels that in general, sportspeople are generous with their advice?
“Obviously there are huge demands on their time and energy, but I found them willing and interested in sharing their stories and contributing to something they felt could be of genuine help to many.”
Be The Best You Can Be is an aspiration that can be applied to all walks of life, such as in business and interpersonal relations?
“Ya… for sure. Performance across all domains is principle based. High performers have more commonalities than they do differences. It’s actually our school motto where I teach in Bushypark NS.
Lockdown whetted the appetite for training
Was he worried that lockdown would have a negative impact on the appetite for participation in sport…or had it the opposite effect?
“I feel in many clubs and teams where people are working hard and smart to provide healthy, supportive and challenging sporting environments for their young, it has had the opposite effect. From talking to people, attendances at training across many sports and teams appears to have increased since lockdown.
“The book is my attempt at pulling together a guide that can serve every young Irish person in sport. I wanted to create a uniquely Irish sports book, by Irish coaches and sport stars, for every young Irish sportsperson
He feels there is a growing appetite for knowledge among the new generation of Irish coaches at all levels.
“Yes for sure ….the new generation of coaches understand that ‘obey and command’ is no longer an optimal form of leadership (of course this is also true of many great coaches from past generations ).
“Today’s learner is exposed to so much more influence and information and will no longer simply ‘do’ without question. Today’s sporting environment must be one of both challenge and assist, and underpinned by best practice and principles in order for the learner to optimally apply themselves.
“It is the coach’s challenge to curate this environment and the prudent coach understands they are not simply ‘a fan’ or ‘a critic’…… there to comment on the how the doer of deeds could have done them better. The role is so much more complex and demanding than that. Many of the new generation of Irish coaches understand and appreciate this and accept it as a challenge. They understand that they can only expect their players, athletes and teams to improve and develop at the rate at which they are led to. This is a big order!
Kilkenny great Eddie Brennan has described this book as an ‘exceptional piece of work’ while World Champion and Olympic medallist Rob Heffernan describes it as ‘a must read.’
This is an Irish book, by Irish coaches, for every young Irish person and is on sale now at www.carvercoachingframework.com and in all good bookshops nationwide.
What next for Paul?
“Relax a bit and take time to come back to ‘this world’. Writing a book is a massive challenge which requires you to give everything you have to the project. It is all consuming. This comes at a cost so now I need to re-find a bit of balance and put time and energy into other things in life that are important. I will continue coaching underage teams in Carnmore.”
He said that he is currently working on a project that will see the principles of the CARVER Framework applied to a domain other than sport. “This is both interesting and challenging but the potential and opportunity excites me,” he concluded.
The book is available at www.carvercoachingframework.com