Samuel McKenzie

Samuel McKenzie

Junior Coach Development Manager, Auckland Rugby Union
Master of Sport and Exercise student

How do youth athletes perceive their coaching and how does this affect their experience of sport? That’s the interesting topic Samuel McKenzie is exploring for his Master of Sport and Exercise.

“The ideology and behaviours of the coach have a significant impact on athletes’ experiences, and coaches should adopt an ideology that places the needs of the athlete first. However, there are questions on whether the current best practice coaching models are being followed by youth coaches in the New Zealand sporting landscape. My research is on 1st XV rugby players’ perceptions of their coaching environment and how this affects their experiences of secondary school sport.

“I chose this topic because I have an interest in the experiences of youth in sport and how the coach impacts on this. In my experience as an athlete, coach and sports administrator in youth sport, adults tend to dominate the discussion. My research aims to provide the youth athletes’ views on the environment they play in.”

In touch with the sport industry
Samuel decided to enrol in the Master of Sport and Exercise to complement his career in sport development.

“Postgraduate study is a great chance to further my understanding of coaching, leadership, athlete development and skill acquisition, and nicely complements the skills I’ve developed in my career. I chose to study at AUT because it has a great programme that fits with my understanding of the sport landscape. The learning has a really applied nature to it, which I appreciate too.”

He was also attracted by AUT’s strong industry links, Samuel says.

“AUT has good connections within the sport industry and some great alumni who come in to classes as guest speakers or presenters. This enables us to gain insights into what is happening at the coalface. In fact, it was through my studies that I first met the person who hired me for my current job at the Auckland Rugby Union.”

Challenging assumptions
He would highly recommend the Master of Sport and Exercise to other students, Samuel says.

“The programme has been great at challenging my assumptions and giving me a deeper understanding of the issues currently surrounding sport development. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to work with knowledgeable lecturers who challenge your thinking and facilitate discussion in class. For anyone who wants to make an impact within sport, this programme is a must.”

There have been some challenges, admits Samuel who balances study with his career in sport development.

“Working, studying full-time and training made certain times of the year very full-on for me. AUT and my lecturers were very understanding of all these commitments and were able to support me through this so I could get through the workload.”