Australia's Greatest Coaches: Viv Yuen

Up next in the coaching spotlight is Viv Yuen. Relatively new to the coaching scene, Viv is a great example of someone who has jumped right in the coaching deep end and found they can swim, and quite well at that.

We sat down to chat with Viv about her coaching experience to date and what advice she might have for other aspiring coaches looking to follow her footsteps.

Thanks for chatting with IOU Viv, we appreciate your time. For those just tuning in at home, what teams have you coached to date?

I'm relatively new to the coaching scene, but have loved it so far! Here are the two teams I've coached to date, with plenty more to come I'm sure.

  • Bench Ultimate to 12th at AUC 2019 Men's Div 1

  • Perth Power for the 2019 AUL (tune in to see how we went!)

Very excited to see what you've done with Perth Power, can't wait for the AUL games to start streaming! What keeps bringing you back to coaching?

Because it's really rewarding to see a group of people come together and work towards a common goal. Also because I love being around ultimate, even when I'm not in a position to play.

In it for the vibe, I definitely get that. Do you have any favourite memories from your time coaching so far?

When Bench challenged Colony at Gold Cup at the start of the season. I was trying to get people to care more about moving the disc to the other side of the field before a huck so I starting giving people points for around backhands, give-go's and cross-field hucks. We were also learning to bracket so I gave points for well-communicated switches. Everyone crushed it, it was such a good game and we were up by 3 at half time. I think we lost the next 6 points but I didn't even care, it was my first tournament coaching and it was such an exciting time in the season.

I also enjoyed watching Perth Power hit their stride at the AUL this year.

Do you have a coaching mantra that you stick to?

Never underestimate anyone's capacity to learn!

Equal opportunity for all, nice. That actually segue's quite nicely to my next question. Do you think it's important that Australia has a higher representation of female coaches? Why?

Sure. I can't see why we would be worse off with a diversity of thought & different ways of relating to people - coaching is about people management after all. Even if gender equity in coaching wasn't related to optimising the performance of national teams and clubs, it would still be worth it to our community to give everyone opportunities to participate in our sport in the way that suits them best (whether it be playing, coaching, administrating, game advising, TDing etc).

Female representation in coaching also serves an important role in showing women and girls what is possible in terms of earning respect and leading a team to success. 2018 Stingrays with Mish Phillips, Bree Edgar and Sarah Brereton was the first time I had really heard of an all female coaching team outside of U22s so it was a really eye-opening experience for me because I hadn't seen it at that level before. At the time I didn't know what to expect but I knew it felt special and ultimately, it was much the same as being coached in any other arrangement.

Yeah I've heard that trio did a great job with the Stingrays campaign that year. How do you think we could start to instill this gender balance in coaching personnel?

Where anybody has the power to instate a female coach/organiser you should do it & give them an opportunity to show you what they can do. There's a chance it doesn't end up as a great fit (or maybe it ends up as a rewarding, career-long partnership!) but it's important not to write people off before you've seen them work.

Definitely, every coach needs a first chance to get their feet under them. Have you ever experienced any issues as a coach because of your gender?

Not really. I do get really self conscious when people greet me with "hey coach". It makes me feel like a huge imposter but that's at least a little bit on me.

Well, you are their coach, so they're not wrong, Coach! Having coached Bench in the Men's division last season, did you take a different approach to coaching other divisions?

I felt all of my experiences were extremely respectful and I did not feel as though I needed to change my approach depending on the division. My positive experience in the Men's division is a testament to the work ethic and culture that's been built over the last decade at Bench Ultimate.

What I found while coaching was that people are self-motivated to compete and they can feel when you compete alongside them. Speak to people how you would want to be spoken to. Ask nicely. If someone doesn't listen to what you say it's not the end of the wold and you just need to try to reach them in a different way.