Coaching is all-encompassing. Mat Buck (football), Tim Gainey (basketball) and Matt Moloney (tennis) talk to JUSTINE McCULLAGH-BEASY about what makes them tick.
WHO’D be a coach?
It’s an oft-used question which encapsulates the pressure which comes with the job at any level, in any sport.
The coach is the person who cops the wrath when things go awry.
Lose? Blame the coach.
Lose again? Sack the coach.
Make a mistake? It’s a coach-killer.
But the positives ease the tension in a caper which requires commitment, people management, game nous and teaching skills.
South Warrnambool mentor Mat Buck thrives on watching a game-day move pay off in the Hampden Football Netball League.
Tim Gainey loves when a scouting report helps Warrnambool Seahawks dismantle a Big V opponent.
Matt Moloney feels rewarded when one of his tennis students – young or old – masters a technique or goes onto higher levels.
All three south-west coaches are dedicated to their craft.
A player’s success is the culmination of hours of behind-the-scenes hard work.
Third-year Roosters coach Buck said the workload surprised him.
Buck, 34, juggles football commitments with family life.
But the next move, the next contest, the next game are never far from his mind.
“You are on the phone a lot, there’s always a text message coming through, there’s always a phone call that needs to be made,” he said.
“On occasions you end up telling the story to five different people just because they all ring up about the same thing.”
The father-of-two works part-time at Warrnambool College and is at home with his boys, Oscar, 3, and Hugo, six months, the rest of the week.
Buck and wife Rachael, who started as Noorat Primary School principal on Wednesday, also foster children who they welcome into their Koroit home.
Most of his days have a strong football element to them as he strives to deliver a premiership to Friendly Societies’ Park for the first time since 2011.
“After the game until Tuesday is when I am at my busiest,” he said.
“We film every game and cut up every game to edits.
“Every player gets an individual feedback comment and we do a team feedback page as well and of course statistical analysis from the game. All of that probably takes eight to 10 hours work.
“With the footage I try and cut up some individual efforts as well for some players. It’s hard to do it for everyone but if I can chip away at one or two a week, it’s great vision and feedback for them.”
Tuesday training is based around South Warrnambool’s next opponent.
An off-site pre-game Saturday meeting is also part of the Roosters’ planning process.
“We do a presentation before every game that’s on a computer and that takes an hour or so to whip up on our opposition,” Buck said.
“We try and have an off-site meeting every Saturday to do that, usually Emmanuel College or this weekend in Portland we’ll go to the Quest apartments and use one of their meeting rooms.”
Building relationships and understanding an individual’s mindset are crucial as Buck’s goal is “to make everyone better”.
“Some people you indirectly get to them and other people can take it right between the eyes,” he said.
“Is giving a spray going to make ‘subject A’ better? Maybe not. But I know if I take him out for a coffee during the week and have a chat to him that is probably the best way to get to him.
“It is critically important (to know a player), even to the point I won’t put that player in that edit.
“I will make sure I will show him privately because a public shaming, if you like, is not quite the way to get the best out of him.”
Buck is in his element on game day. Tactically he feels comfortable in his ability to make a bold move or catch the opposition on the hop.
He’s spent time with AFL club Greater Western Sydney the past couple of years honing his skills through South Warrnambool’s connections with Giants coach Leon Cameron.
“I think coaching on game day is probably a strength of mine, seeing the game and doing some things on the fly,” Buck said.
“We go in with some tactics as well which hopefully work but I think adapting during a game is something I feel that I can do well.
“I don’t like losing very much. I would say I am fine but ask Rachael and she might say it’s a long week at home.
“It depends on the circumstances with the loss. On the weekend we walked away with a loss (against Koroit) but were happy with the way we played, so that’s OK.
“When you lose and nothing went to plan that can be a tough week.”
Gainey is in the business of winning too.
The American who now calls Australia home is two games away from leading the Seahawks to the playoffs.
His basketball roster is smaller than Buck’s football side but the dedication is just as evident.
The father-of-four, who also coached the Seahawks in 2012-13, returned to the helm this season.
“From a playing stand point, you don’t have to worry as much. You give your input, go home and show up,” Gainey said.
“Now I have got to think about what this person is doing, I have to figure out how to get this person shots, adjustments, subs, timing, watching film, it’s hectic.
“It is good now that all the games we do are uploaded to YouTube.
“I watch the full game of other teams, cut film and then we watch it on Thursday and try and get tendancies.”
Gainey’s attention to detail helps set the Seahawks apart.
The 2016 championship winner said scouting reports were vital in basketball and could be the difference between winning and losing.
“I reckon I spend about two hours on each game. I will draw up the play and I have a little notebook,” he said.
“I have a good computer program that I can cut stuff up. I can watch them over and over and see what plays guys are running. When we go into the game, when they call their plays our guys already know what’s happening.
“It gives us that advantage. Some teams don’t actually do it. The two teams we just played (and defeated) ran exactly what we talked about. We knew whether we were switching or double teaming.”
Gainey has a close relationship with his assistant coach Barry Brooks.
The pair work together at SHB Business and Wealth Advisors – Gainey is a financial planner and Brooks an accountant.
Together they form a formidable team and they even each other out on game day.
“If I am in a bad mood, he’s the calm one,” Gainey said.
“Or if he is in a bad mood and yelling then I will be the one that is calm.
“Since I know most of these guys and I have seen most of them grow up, I don’t have to yell as much. It depends on the emotion of the game. If it’s a hot moment I might yell and not mean it. It just comes out that way.”
The biggest hurdle for Gainey is the travel-factor with playing in a statewide competition.
Games in Shepparton and Traralgon require five-hour round trips.
“You lose a whole weekend for 40 minutes of basketball,” he said.
“Guys get to talk to each other and create that camaraderie though. We have heaps of Uno games and a few gamble in there, that’s always a bit of fun.”
Moloney, 33, specialises in an individual sport, teaching tennis players from “five year olds all the way to 70 year olds”.
The Warrnambool Indoor Tennis Centre coach said the vast age range required varied approaches.
“I am coaching a couple of guys who have been doing the same thing for 50 years,” he said. “It’s really hard because the game has changed a lot, with grips and things like that.
“These days if you’re coaching juniors you have a semi-Western forehand grip which involves a lot of spin. If you have a 60 or 70-year-old they’re used to holding a grip completely differently and hitting the ball really flat.”
Younger players require simple messaging given “their concentration spans are a lot shorter”.
Moloney said technique, fitness and the mental side of the game were crucial when teaching his advanced players, such as Eloise Swarbrick and US college students James Tobin, Toby Timms and Jeremy Attrill.