As part of the UK Athletics Indoor Championships 2023, the FCN invited one of the World’s most successful coaches, Jane Figueirdo, to speak with a number of Track & Field Coaches.
Jane, who generously gave her time, shared her experiences of coaching a number of Divers to Olympic Gold, working with British sporting Superstar Tom Daley and her coaching philosophy of high standards. Here are a few snippets:
???? Great coaching is about stepping out of your comfort zone
???? The University coaching at Houston provided me with a structure and a professional environment which helped me coach when I moved to London. We created a very strict environment. Tom warned people who joined us, ‘Jane rules the roost, she has very high expectations.
???? If the coach is just coaching and there’s no balance, you can easily burn out. When you come home your exhausted, my family and friends used to say ‘Jane you gave everything to your athletes and nothing to us’, it’s very hard for a coach, especially at the Olympic level to have balance.
???? I suffered from burnout. When you’re at the Olympic level, you give so much of yourself every day of the week. You can’t avoid burnout. But later in my career I was able to cope with this. I actually asked for a year off after Tokyo.
???? Tom sat at my kitchen table back in Houston and said to me ‘I want to win a Gold medal’. I pulled out a laundry list of things he needed to change and I said ‘Well, you have all of this to change first’. But he loved that I was so open and honest and said ‘ok, let’s do this’.
???? I had never done a project like this before. He was a celebrity, I hadn’t even thought about it, he was just another athlete to me. But there was all this drama, it really hit me very hard and I couldn’t handle it. To say it wasn’t a challenge, I’d be lying!
Jane’s Q&A was part of the weekend long ‘Coaches Corner’, which provided coaches at the National event a chance to connect, share and develop.
Jane is best known for coaching the British sporting superstar Tom Daley, who won Gold alongside teammate Matty Lee in the men’s synchronised 10m platform at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Throughout her 30+ year coaching career, Jane has had major success coaching athletes from several Countries at Divings highest levels. Her 24-year tenure at the University of Houston, USA, included 12 consecutive conference Diving Coach of the year honours, and four NCAA Diving Coach of the Year awards (2001, 2003, 2009, and 2010). Her divers won multiple NCAA championships at Houston, including Anastasia Pozdniakova who won the 1-meter title in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. In total, her divers won 8 NCAA titles and 51 All-American honors in 24 seasons.
In 2014, Jane resigned from her position as Head Diving Coach at the University of Houston to take on the role over the new high performance diving centre in London. Since then, she has guided Tom Daley and many other British Divers to European, World and Olympic medals – most notably Tom Daley to three Olympic medals, five World Medals, six European Medals and three Commonwealth games Medals.
Check out our interview with Jane back in November 2021