Keep Calm and Carry On… Coaching

Philosophy, Culture and Performance Management

Don a tracksuit, grab your whistle and a stopwatch and you’re all set, right? Wrong.

Join Swansea alumnus Neil Hennessy and Sean Holley, former Ospreys’ head coach and now expert rugby pundit and analyst, for a unique insight into the world of sport coaching. This lively fireside chat will explore three key themes of sport coaching: philosophy, culture and performance management.

Coaching is inherently messy. With the genesis of professional sport came the birth of Coaching Science as an academic discipline and of the ‘coach’ as a bona fide professional. The concept of ‘Plan-Do-Review’ is overly simplistic and sequential, and rather short-changes the nature and practice of sport coaching. Join Neil and Sean for an in-depth to exploration of the art and science of coaching

“… coaches as inventive practitioners who work in such a complex and ambiguous way that can never be captured within a process.” (Cushion, 2007, p. 396)

Book your place

Biography - Neil Hennessy

Photo of Neil Hennessy

Dr Neil Hennessy is Principal Lecturer and Programme Director in Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences, Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Having graduated with the BA (Hons) Cymraeg from Swansea University, he then undertook the PGCE Primary at Homerton College, University of Cambridge. He returned to Swansea to read for the MPhil Sport Psychology before completing his Level 7 studies at UWIC, gaining the MSc Coaching Science. Neil was awarded a Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol PhD scholarship and gained his Doctorate in pedagogy and philosophy of sport in 2014.

Following a brief spell as a professional rugby player Neil turned to officiating and was a WRU elite match official and TMO for over a decade. As a referee, Neil worked closely with the WRU's senior and age-grade national squads, providing technical support and analysis. His research into holistic Rugby development has been incorporated into the WRU's coach education programme. ​​

Neil's academic interests include bilingualism, coaching, officiating, pedagogy, and philosophy and ethics of sport.

Biography - Sean Holley

A photo of Sean Holley

Sean Holley is a TV Rugby Analyst for BBC Wales Scrum V in studio and outside broadcasts. Sean provides commentary and match analysis In-game and pre/post-match. He also works for BT Sport, Sky Sports, S4C and hosts the Sony Award winning ‘Rugby Nation’ weekly show on Nation Radio. Sean writes technical coaching articles for several publications and has a regular monthly column in the World’s largest selling rugby publication, Rugby World.

Sean was Head Coach for Ospreys Rugby where he spent nine Seasons – over 250 games. He has worked with British Lions, Grand Slam winners, All Blacks and Springboks including the likes of Shane Williams, Gavin Henson, Adam Jones, Ryan Jones, Tommy Bowe, Justin Marshall, Jerry Collins, Scott Gibbs, Mike Phillips and many more. He has also worked as a Coach for the Welsh Rugby Union at all levels including the National Team in 2005 and 2009. Sean has also held several other high-profile positions in the World of Rugby. He was the longest serving and most successful Welsh Regional Coach helping the Ospreys to win 5 titles and 3 Heineken Cup Quarter Final places. In 2013 Sean was appointed Head Coach for Bristol Rugby where in his first season Bristol finished top of the English Championship scoring a record number of tries and points. He left in 2016 have helped Bristol gain promotion to the Aviva Premiership.

Cushion, C. (2007). Modelling the complexity of the coaching process. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 2(4), 395-401.