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Shane Danaher - Sporting Schools Super Coach

Thursday, 7 February 2019 | Lara Tamsett



With the new school year commencing, and Sporting Schools funding applications for Term 2 soon to open,  AA would like to profile & recognise one of the programs most popular and committed coaches, South-Australian based Shane Danaher, who has been conducting Sporting Schools Programs since 2015.

Sporting Schools is a $200 million Australian Government initiative designed to help schools to increase children's participation in sport, and to connect them with community sporting opportunities.

Athletics Australia is delighted to offer its Sporting Schools programs as an introduction to team-based activities, in an age appropriate format focused on fun and keeping kids moving. The focus of the program is on skill development, building a generation of active, healthy, sport loving children whilst most importantly having fun.

How did you initially get involved in the Sporting Schools Program? 

I completed the Kid’s Athletic Coaching course when it was scheduled in Adelaide. I am big on learning and looking for many ways that a coach can coach. There is never a wrong way, but sometimes better ways. I completed the course over a Sunday and from there began my coaching with schools whom registered through AA’s Sporting School’s system.

What is your background in athletics? Were you once an athlete that turned to coaching?

From 6 yrs old, I did Little Athletics back in Melbourne (where I grew up). I enjoyed it, was competitive in race walking, and was quite serious about it. But I also enjoyed every other sport going around as well, until I left school and needed to work!!

I was coached by my best friend’s Dad, who was a state level coach at the time and who provided a good grounding in race walking and all the other athletic disciplines. I didn’t realise the knowledge that I had stored in my brain, until a few years ago when my sons began Little Athletics at the Magill LAC.

When I began helping other athletes at Magill, I thought I might invest my time in coaching and then aim for higher accreditation to support my coaching journey. So far, it’s going along ok!!

What has been your progression as an athletics coach?

I have worked through my coaching level accreditation, and most recently completed the Level 4 – Middle/Long Distance course. I also have gained Level 3 & Level 2 Advanced levels in sprints, throws, & jumps events. These courses are important in improving how you coach.

I have observed how other good coaches work and received guidance from them, as philosophy in coaching is important to me. For now, the more I do, the more knowledge and skills I gain!!

Who/what do you coach outside of the Sporting Schools Program? 

I have a group of athletes whom I coach in many different disciplines and sports. For me variety in my coaching is important, as it helps me to learn as much as possible as well as prevent falling into routines.

Do you juggle coaching with other commitments?

I’m a bit unique in this way. I was involved in a pretty serious car accident whilst working, so coaching is perfect as it has it’s part time aspects which enable me to manage the physical impact of my accident.

At times I miss the odd sport event my boys participate in. Last week I missed my 8yr old bowling 3 wickets against the U/12’s, but I generally balance out family and coaching commitments.

What do you love most about coaching athletics?

I love how the athletes commit to something they enjoy and have no fear of failure, usually realising they can do anything they put their mind to. Sharing that challenge and journey as an athlete works to reach their goal is pretty cool.

What is the hardest thing about coaching? 

For me there’s nothing I find hard about coaching. I have been lucky with the athletes I’ve worked with and their families, as they let me do the coaching. I think if a family was contradicting the messages that a coach is trying to implement, that would make life hard. However the people I work with are great and respect what I am doing.  

For those that don't know a lot about the Sporting Schools Program, how would you describe it?

The program is an opportunity for schools who wouldn’t usually have the budget to run proper coaching sessions, to give their students the chance to participate in athletics. It provides the students with the opportunity to try new things, challenge themselves and develop their motor skills.

What’s the best thing you get out of the program? 

The program keeps me focussed as I need to make sure I’m one step ahead of primary aged students!! Also, the kids remind me to enjoy the simple things in life.

From your perspective, what is the best thing the kids get out of the program? 

The chance to really think about how they run, how they jump, and how they throw. Also, when they go to their school sports days, and I’ve observed that they get excited to participate, because they know they can do it.

Have you had a highlight/standout moment while coaching for the Sporting Schools Program? 

Recently I was fortunate enough to run the sessions at the school my sons go to. There is a class of students with varying disabilities and some of the session was based on hurdling. I started with the mini, mini hurdles for the games and drills that were planned, and then moved to the 30cm hurdles for a challenge.

I observed and thought, I’ll ask them to try and jump the yellow hurdles, which were a challenging height for the able bodied students. The students were keen to try them and with guidance of how to approach the hurdles, every student in this group jumped the hurdles awesomely well. To see the confidence and smiles was amazing, as this was something that they would have never thought they could do. I was pumped after that session!!

What would be your advice to those reading this who either want to a) get into coaching or b) get their kids/school involved in the Sporting Schools Program?

Coaching is one of things you either enjoy or don’t, and we are all different. In regard to being a part of the Sporting School’s Program, I recommend you let your school know about it, and particularly that it is funded by the government.


*To learn more about the sporting schools program, visit