Team Behind the Team: Stefan Leitner – Alpine Coach

Team Behind the Team: Stefan Leitner – Alpine Coach

How and why did you get into coaching?

“I grew up in a ski area in Tirol, where skiing and ski racing was always a part of my life. I have now worked for many years in this industry, and now for the sixth year with the Brits.”

What are your main responsibilities as a coach?

“As a coach, my main responsibility is to support the athlete in achieving a goal. Every athlete is individual, and it takes a lot of sensitivity to bring out the best in everyone in order to achieve the athlete’s goals. The environment is what I create for the athlete to progress.”

How important is the mental/psychological side of coaching in a modern athlete’s development?

“The head is a decisive factor for success. Every athlete needs to perform at their best at the right time, and that requires extreme mental strength. It is one of the most important parts.”

How is the new generation of athletes’ expectations of coaching different from what was expected 10 years ago?

“I don’t believe the expectations are different, but the level of the top-class ski races has changed in the last 10 years. All the components of success have become more important, so there is more emphasis on making sure that all of these are covered. The fitness side, the mental side, the equipment, and the logistics all must be taken care of as best as possible.”

Is analysing competition/training footage useful for athlete improvement and development? If so, has tech like mobile phones and drones made this easier?

“The visual analysis after competition & training is a useful tool to help the racer to compare the feeling they had against what they see visually when they watch themselves. Technology advancement has helped with instant video feedback while on the hill, but it has also come with the downside of added distractions for the athletes. It’s important for the athlete to be present on the hill and not concerned with their phones, for example.”

What was the biggest challenge coaching athletes during the most restricted moments last year? How did you manage to maintain a coaching approach with athletes during lockdown?

“It was a very difficult season for everyone with all the restrictions, but we were lucky that we still could follow our passion and be out there racing and coaching. In a lot of ways it was a very normal season for us on the World Cup and European Cup, but it was difficult not to have the escape option for a mental break away from everything when it was needed.”

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