Episode 146 – Shane Lehane

The Journey of an Athletic Performance Coach: From Intern to Elite Environments


Athletic Performance Coaching Tip: Becoming an athletic performance coach in the realm of professional sports is no easy feat. It’s a journey marked by dedication, learning from mistakes, and accumulating experiences that shape not only your technical knowledge but also your ability to navigate complex and dynamic team environments. In this blog post, we will delve into Athletic Performance Coaching Tip the insightful interview with Shane Lehane, an Athletic Performance Coach at Sydney Swans FC, as he shares his journey Athletic Performance Coaching Tip from being an intern to a full-fledged coach in one of the elite Australian Football League (AFL) teams.

Highlights of the episode:

  • How he landed a job at Leicester Tigers after his internship
  • His advice when doing internships and what his typical week looked like during his internship
  • How he does a drop body height drill
  • Coaching heavy & coaching light for prep work and coordination drills
  • His advice when doing a program review

The Importance of Clarity and Accumulated Experience

Shane’s journey began with an internship at Leicester Tigers, a prominent rugby team in the UK. One key takeaway from his story is the significance of clarity and knowing exactly what you want to achieve. Shane was crystal clear about his career path, and this determination set the foundation for his success. Having a strong sense of purpose is essential, especially in a competitive field like athletic coaching.

However, Shane’s success wasn’t solely attributed to his determination. He stressed the importance of accumulating experience, both in amateur and professional settings. While internships may not always lead to immediate job offers, they offer a platform for learning and self-discovery. Shane’s experience highlights that being aware of whether the profession aligns with your interests is just as crucial as the technical skills acquired.

Shifting Dynamics in Internships

The landscape of internships has evolved significantly over the years. Shane pointed out that when he began his internship at Leicester Tigers, it was a year-long, full-time commitment with minimal pay. While this model is less common nowadays, the value of accumulating time and experiences remains as relevant as ever. Even if the structure of internships has changed, the process of logging time, making mistakes, and learning from them is an indispensable aspect of growth.

Shane’s experience reflects the transformation in the approach to internships. He sought out opportunities independently and through institutions like Bath University. This proactive stance underscores the importance of taking initiative and networking to secure valuable experiences that contribute to your growth.

Balancing Technical and Contextual Training

As an athletic performance coach, Shane highlighted the need to strike a balance between technical training and contextual scenarios. In training sessions, he and his team focus on providing physical work that complements the technical aspects of the sport. This includes a combination of exercises that enhance flexibility, mobility, and coordination. These physical development elements are then integrated into the technical actions of the athletes, creating a holistic training approach.

Shane and his team employ a coaching strategy that alternates between coaching-heavy and coach-light sessions. This approach ensures that athletes receive the necessary guidance during technical components while allowing them more autonomy during certain exercises. The fine-tuned balance between these coaching styles enhances the effectiveness of training and optimizes skill development.

Learning from Mistakes and Program Management

The path to becoming an effective athletic performance coach is paved with learning from mistakes. Shane advised young practitioners to embrace their early experiences and make mistakes in environments where the consequences are less severe. This approach enables growth and fosters a mindset of continuous improvement.

In a professional setting, the responsibility expands beyond technical expertise. Shane emphasized the significance of being considerate of how your decisions impact the entire program. This encompasses knowing when to push athletes to their limits, when to consolidate, and identifying individuals who require special attention. This holistic approach not only enhances individual performance but also contributes to the team’s success.


Shane Lehane’s journey from an intern to an Athletic Performance Coach at Sydney Swans FC offers a wealth of insights for aspiring coaches and those curious about the world of professional sports. The combination of determination, clarity of purpose, accumulated experiences, and a commitment to learning from mistakes serves as a roadmap to success. As the dynamics of internships evolve and coaching strategies become more refined, the essence of growth through experience remains a constant. Whether you’re working with aspiring athletes or elite professionals, Shane’s story underlines the importance of combining technical expertise with a holistic program management approach to thrive in the world of athletic performance coaching.

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