England Rugby head coach Eddie Jones delivered a keynote speech at the EIS national conference last week, describing his own formula for success and what drives him on after over 20 years of coaching.
Jones’ eyes are firmly set on the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and he talked about the importance of identifying trends to stay ahead of your rivals, as he addressed EIS staff and guests who are no strangers to the cycle-driven nature of high performance sport, with many in the room focused on PyeongChang 2018 and Tokyo 2020.
The World Rugby Coach of the Year described how once somebody tastes success in sport, the real challenge is repeating that and delivering over a sustained period of time.
“You’ve got to be chronically restless to see how you can improve, how you can improve the people around you and never sit still because there’s always a better way to do something,” he said.
“You can never think you’re doing things as well as you are doing them now.
“Restlessness is about driving forward, but how do you keep driving forward? The hardest thing when you win is to squeeze a bit more.
“In high performance sport you have to keep creating conflict but it has to be positive conflict. That leads to performance. And if you don’t have that conflict within your organisation you’re probably not going to get that performance.”
Jones highlighted how sport had changed and how in modern times it’s impossible for a head coach or manager to do everything.
“Everything has become more complex,” he noted. Giving the example of how when he started coaching he would undertake reviews with his staff every three or four months, whereas now he prefers short conversations with support staff, while he left the more formal evaluations to others so he can focus on the players.
With many practitioners in the audience, Jones touched on how the quest to constantly improve should be at the heart of everything.
“Every conversation is a performance one. It’s not about whether you like someone. How can you use that time to speak to someone to get more performance out of them?”
He added that the best coaching experiences can be short conversations where you see someone briefly on the way to breakfast. You can see how the person is feeling and you see how you can motivate, inspire and encourage them to do a bit more that day.
“If you’re not giving me what I want, I have to tell you, and if I’m not giving you what I what, you have to tell me,” he stated.
With experience of coaching in Australia, South Africa, Japan and England, Jones is no stranger to adapting to the culture of the country you work in. Punctuality, in his own words, was a given for the locals in Japan.
He cited being robust and adaptable as essential ingredients ahead of Japan 2019 and he’ll be hoping that England are on time and on form to collect the trophy in Yokohama City on Saturday 2 November 2019.