Alyson Annan

Our Great Coach on this episode is Alyson Annan.

Alyson is a Australian field hockey player who represented her country 228 times and won gold medals at the 1996 and 2000 Sydney Olympics.

She transitioned into coaching in 2003, and she led the Netherlands women team to a silver medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil and a gold medal at 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo as well as gold medals at the 2017 , 2019 and the 2021 Women’s EuroHockey Nations Championship and the 2018 Women’s World Cup.

This interview was recorded in late January 2022, and then in mid February 2022, Alyson resigned as a coach of the Dutch national team after a dispute with administration about the team culture. Listening back I think some of Alyson’s dissatisfaction and self-reflection comes across in the interview.

What is indisputable though is that Alyson is that rare individual who has won an Olympic Gold medal as both an Athlete and a coach, and from these experiences she believes that if you are confronted and challenged by a coach then you will be a better athlete. The key to challenging in the right way is through the use of observation skills and heightened communication delivered as best as you can at the right time and location.

And it seems these challenging skills may be one of the reasons some of the team felt dissatisfied with her. However as many of the great coaches have said in these interviews, the role of the coach is to challenge, in fact the iconic Ric Charlesworth says ot best with this quote: Sometimes you have to trouble the comfortable, and comfort the troubled.

Alyson also believes that when you create your own pressure, you will perform better than when pressure is put on you from outside. And you achieve this through reflection on your behaviour in response to the performance challenges you are facing.

Other key highlights from this interview were:

How she uses failure as a positive criteria when selecting the team.

How she had to learn to not coach as she played when she first started coaching, but instead go back and think about how you need to communicate to impart knowledge.

Her focus on learning and growing, and in particular making mistakes and using them as motivation to keep going.

Also listen out for her explanation of the Ringelman effect and she uses it with the team.

This was a deep conversation, with a rare individual and hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

If you would like to send us any feedback or if you know a great coach, who has a unique story to share, then we would love to hear from you, please contact us at or contact us through our website

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