Basketball Queensland is made up of dedicated individuals who are passionate about athlete development, especially the coaches and training staff. The transition from player to coach has become an increasingly popular pathway for athletes and we’ll be seeing some familiar faces in new roles as the inaugural NBL1 season quickly approaches. We’ve had a chat with several former QBL players about what encouraged them to pick up the clipboard.
To start the series, we sit down with Rhys Martin the 2020 NBL1 North Head Coach Mackay Meteorettes:
Player to Coach – Rhys Martin
Rhys has an extensive playing career in Queensland and abroad. After returning from college in 2007, Martin played his first QBL game with the Caloundra Suns before being picked up as a development player by the Bullets. He was approached the next year by the Wollongong Hawks, where he played 10 seasons. Between playing for the Hawks, Rhys kept returning to Queensland to play in the QBL, first for the Rockhampton Rockets and then the Mackay Meteors.
“It’s a very good environment in Mackay. I played there in 2010 and 2011 and we won a state championship, so I understand what the community provides for coaches and athletes.”
After playing professionally for 13 years, most recently with the Gold Coast Rollers, Rhys returned to Sugar City to coach the women’s Meteorettes team, replacing Ian Haughton. This transition was made easier by Martin’s former coach, Joel Khalu, who also recently returned to Mackay.
“Being around Joel at that time (Mackay Meteors championship year 2011), and the fact we share similar views about how the game is played meant we could have an honest chat. That’s what it’s about in a team environment, no matter if it’s business or sport or your family, having that good communication makes the process a lot more enjoyable throughout the season.”
Approaching Situations with an Athlete’s and Coach’s Perspective
Player-coaches like Rhys Martin have gone through the trials, tribulations and uncertainties that all professional athletes experience. This means that they usually have less difficulty approaching situations with the perspective of both an athlete and a coach.
“If I can help athletes avoid falling into the traps that I fell into as a player, they’ll be stronger for it. How you structure your day, how you deal with adversity, if you have a family how you juggle those kind of things through sport.”
Frequently there are some issues that players are anxious to bring to their coach, but Rhys hopes to break through the communication barrier, aiming to emulate great coaches in his life.
“I had some really good coaches throughout my career that I could have some honest conversations with and that helps you play the game with less stress. You can concentrate on playing and enjoying basketball and not have to worry about other stuff going on in your life.”
“Quite often you see athletes at pro levels have breakdowns off the court because of not being able to deal with things in their personal life. I wouldn’t want one of my athletes to go through that.”
Stress is a part of the job description for an athlete. Sport on a professional level has a great degree of uncertainty and that can produce a lot of anxiety for athletes.
“You don’t want to promise an athlete a job the following year if it’s not your decision to make or you don’t have that contact to put in front of them. I think that’s a really tough process that people don’t fully understand, from the end of season through to next year.”
Rhys Martin’s first game with Mackay is on Anzac Day at home against the Toowoomba Mountaineers.