Meet The Athlete Mentor: Neil Kilshaw

Rugby league Performance, Welfare and Education Manager and Switch The Play coach Neil Kilshaw tells us why he mentors athletes and what success looks like to him.

28 Jun Meet The Mentor: Neil Kilshaw

Neil is a senior level Performance, Welfare & Education Manager with over 18 years broad-ranging experience in professional sport. His work has seen him developing people, as young players, coaches, medical personnel and senior players, and adopting coaching, management, mentoring and welfare support roles. A strategic thinker in a rapidly evolving working environment, Neil relishes the opportunity to play a leading role in implementing change.

Why do you enjoy mentoring athletes?

I have always enjoyed seeing athletes achieve their potential on the field from their dedication, commitment and hard work. More recently working in the space of ‘athlete welfare’ enables me to assist the athletes in realising their potential off the field of play and prepare for their future lives, therefore mentoring and coaching is a natural extension to an athlete’s training/practice/preparation.

What common challenges do athletes face when it comes to transition?

Every athlete faces their own unique challenges when it comes to transition. Although each situation is different, the most common theme, and generally the first presenting theme, is the size of the challenge ahead. Quite often athletes delay the starting point of preparing for transition as they feel daunted by the enormity of it, and don’t know where to start. Most often the athlete and I will spend some time breaking the challenge down into smaller chunks.

What do athletes get out of one-to-ones with a mentor or coach?

The best thing for athletes having one to one coaching is that the coach provides a safe non-judgemental space for the athlete to talk and discuss ideas. Essentially, the athlete will bring a ‘context’ to a series of sessions and the coach will bring a ‘process’ in which they can help the athlete to work out their own solutions or journey. My greatest success as a coach is when after spending a few months with an athlete the process was ended with a light-hearted rhetorical comment; “I answered all my own questions there didn’t I?”.

What’s your most memorable sporting event?

I have a fantastic memory of being in the crowd in Sydney to witness the Great Britain Rugby League team defeat Australia in 2006.

If you could invite 5 famous people to a dinner party, who would it be?

I’ll stay on a sporting theme:

Kenny Dalglish

Ian Botham

Rafael Nadal

Chris Eubank

Paula Radcliffe

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