Home Australia Lauren Robinson’s unexpected journey to becoming a wheelchair basketball coach

Lauren Robinson’s unexpected journey to becoming a wheelchair basketball coach

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A group of Australian wheelchair basketball players huddle around a coach giving them instructions.

In 2022, Lauren Robinson received a surprise invitation.

It was the opportunity of a lifetime to join the Australian Gliders, Australia’s women’s wheelchair basketball team, as the team manager for their series against Japan at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).

It was an opportunity that would be the catalyst for changing the direction of his career from playing to coaching elite wheelchair basketball.

It happened when he ran into Gliders head coach Craig Campbell at the airport on his way to AIS.

“The first thing he said was, ‘While you’re floating, if you want to jump on the court and start training, you’re more than welcome,'” he said.

“In the back of my head, I was screaming a little bit because I had never coached wheelchair basketball before.”

Wheelchair basketball trip

For Robinson, his basketball career had been an unexpected journey.

Unable to progress to higher levels of the game as an athlete, she continued to develop her coaching experience to stay connected to the game.

Robinson has honed her coaching skills with the Gliders.(Supplied: Basketball Australia)

Coaching youth national teams for seven years before taking on the role of head coach for the youth basketball championship, the highest level of youth competition, Robinson’s coaching skills developed and a few years later she joined a team of Basketball Victoria coaches.

But at only 24 years old, I would never have thought that I would be able to train athletes who skillfully play basketball on a chair.

Accepting the offer allowed Robinson to spend time on the court with the athletes.

“I think people are just scared by the chair and the specific abilities of the chair; the game concepts are very similar, you just have to modify it to suit them; they just adapt to their functional capabilities.” she said.

Robinson’s time as team manager with the Gliders was a great learning opportunity.

Not only did it help her see the different coaching roles available to her and gave her the opportunity to connect with coach Craig Campbell, but Robinson also quickly learned how much para-athletes navigate just to get on the court.

A female basketball coach sits in a chair and gives instructions to a young female basketball player in a wheelchair.

Robinson says there is more work to do to make basketball more accessible to everyone.(Supplied: MVP Media)

“I think being involved with the Gliders has opened my eyes a lot more to the possibilities of basketball, but also the limitations of basketball accessibility in certain areas,” she said.

“The amount of additional planning that needs to be put in place to ensure that hotels are accessible to athletes, or that there is space on the court available for people to put their chairs to the side, or to travel with athletes who have day chairs and sports chairs, and how that affects the timeline of getting from place A to B.

“There are a lot of little things that you can’t see from the outside.”

Passion for research

Parallel to his training, Robinson studied a BSc in Exercise and Sports Science with Honors and his research focused on the interpersonal development of wheelchair basketball coaches.

Robinson’s research led her to join Basketball Victoria’s Kevin Coombs Cup team campaign, a state team for wheelchair athletes, to gain more experience from the coaching team.

The cup is named after Australia’s first indigenous Paralympic wheelchair basketball athlete.

Robinson gained exposure to basketball relevant to his research at the tournament and deepened his love for wheelchair basketball.

A year later, he joined the Gliders as an assistant coach and at the same time began a PhD to continue his research.

Two wheelchair basketball players are on the court, one is preparing to shoot and the other is defending.

Robinson was an assistant coach at the recent IWBF Women’s Repechage event in Japan, where the Gliders failed to qualify for the Paris Paralympic Games.(Supplied: IWBF)

“Wheelchair basketball just provides a completely different conceptual version of the game,” he said.

“It’s very cognitively stimulating for me and makes me think more as a coach about getting the same results from my athletes, but it has also made me a better coach by needing to have more conversations with athletes to make sure I’m serving them appropriately.” For your needs.

“It’s such a tolerant culture and there’s so much positivity from this group and desire to succeed that it’s contagious to be around.”

Even with her extensive experience as a coach and academic researcher, Robinson still doubts herself, as she is often the youngest of the coaching group.

“The biggest challenge for me is finding my voice in situations that I don’t feel comfortable in and recognizing that I can do it and back myself in those situations,” she said.

Robinson’s versatile experience has taught her how to handle pressure and she is grateful to be able to contribute to the game she loves.

“I love being able to observe the success of athletes on and off the court, whether it is a victory or the development of a skill. Seeing the growth within an individual whose journey I am lucky enough to be a part of “.

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