Peter Lumsden – Coach Interview

Besides elite athletes, I have started to involve Professional Coaches in the dialogue on Life Beyond Elite Sport? Yes, I am stating the obvious, however coaches are within the athletes inner circle and get to know life as an athlete pretty well. Subsequently, coaches can and do play an important role in the lives of elite athletes.

For the first coaches interview I have asked Peter Lumsden. I met Peter when I was doing my High Performance Coaching course with Tennis Australia and I know he has a passion for wellbeing. Peter has a range of skills and I am really grateful to be able to share his insights today with you.

Life Beyond Elite Sport Coach Interview – Peter Lumsden

Current Occupation

Director of Coaching at Discovery Tennis Academy in Melbourne, Australia.

Tell us a bit about your self (i.e. your background, where you grew up and where you are now.

I am a career tennis coach who grew up in Melbourne playing competitively in local junior competition and senior pennant as well as many country tournamentsqualifying events in ITF Satellite events and a short stint competing in European money tournaments.

I completed tertiary study in Melbourne at both Latrobe University and also a post graduate at Deakin University along with professional tennis qualifications at both a Club Professional (Level 2) and High Performance (Level 3) standard.

Then I have coached in regional Victoria and overseas and since 2015 I have been back based in Melbourne creating a high-performance coaching academy for aspiring juniors.

What inspired you to coach sport?

I completed work experience in Year 10 at High School. It was held at the local YMCA, so I was involved in youth sport, coaching, recreational activities and I really enjoyed it immediately. Working with young people has also been my passion and my life.

What sport do you coach?

Tennis and physical conditioning 

What age did you start coaching sport? 

Age 16 part time whilst I was still in high school.

What has been some the best performances from the athletes you have coached? 

I privately coached Australian player Stephen Huss for 14 years to become a top 20 professional doubles player on the ATP tour and who won the Wimbledon doubles title in 2005.

What are you most proud of doing in your life up until now? 

Marrying my wife in the year 2000 and having two beautiful daughters aged 14 and 17. Also turning my hobby (tennis) into a professional career.

Who are the mentors who have inspired you and what important lessons have you learnt from them?

My mentors and guides were both my University lecturers and also people who I have met only via books, television shows and podcasts such as Wayne W Dyer, Marianne Williamson, Alan Watts and Oprah Winfrey. 

 Collectively so many influences have taught me  the importance of compassion, clarity, creativity, confidence, courage, calmness, curiosity and connectedness. 

Is there a significant quote or saying by which you live your life by? If so, what is it?

“And I say to you, I have also decided to stick to love. For I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. I’m not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love, I’m talking about a strong, demanding love. And I have seen too much hate” ~ Martin Luther King Jnr

What is the most important lesson / insight you learnt from being a coach to elite athletes?

A relationship built on expertise and trust. “I know what I am doing and I have your back”.

What are the top 3 skills you would encourage an athlete to develop whilst still playing their sport to help them make their transition to life beyond elite sport? 

  1. Educate themselves informally but more importantly formally whilst competing, travelling and training as they have plenty of time and it serves multiple purposes and benefits (i.e. takes their mind off the stresses of performance, prepares them for a life and carer after sport, makes them more interesting and grounded, provides a longer term purpose, challengers them mentally and more broadly as an individual),  
  2. Engage with the community that surrounds you and maintain or broaden your friendship groups beyond those involved in your sport to gain a sense of perspective. 
  3. Understand that although difficult life as a professional athlete is a privilege and to respect that privilege and show both gratitude for it, an appreciation for those who help and support you whilst pursuing “your” dream and to acknowledge this internally on a daily basis and externally as often as appropriate to those people who care for you.

What are your top 3 tips for helping athletes make their transition to life beyond elite sport? 

  1. Be open to and have the courage to try new things as elite sport is one dimensional and insular in many ways,
  2. Understand that so many of the character traits that have helped you have a career as a professional sports person (i.e. drive, motivation, consistent effort, planning, commitment, resilience and grit) are the essential ingredients so sort after by business and the qualities that can help you begin your own business, and
  3. Value taking all the experiences you have had as a pro athlete with you into the next chapter of your life, the good, the difficult, the fair and the unfair, the challenging and the euphoria of success and integrate all those parts of you elite sporting life as the base plate to continuing a blessed life. 

Over to You…

I hope this has given you some insight from a coach who works with elite athletes. Thanks so much Peter for sharing your wisdom and thanks so much for working holistically with athletes. You can connect with Peter here.

If you have any questions, please let me know or leave a comment below.

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