Coaching focus for Kernaghan

Mike Kernaghan is looking forward to coaching the next generation of elite bowlers. PHOTO: GREGOR...
Mike Kernaghan is looking forward to coaching the next generation of elite bowlers. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
The bowling greens are a lot slower in the United Kingdom.

It is something that makes the game that little bit different.

As a consequence, the New Zealand squad has been practising on croquet greens — which mimic the UK greens better — in preparation for this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

It is one of those little things Dunedin bowls stalwart Mike Kernaghan has picked up throughout a long and distinguished international career.

That knowledge and experience will now become of better use to the next wave of New Zealand bowlers.

Kernaghan (66), who was part of the fours world championship-winning team in 2016, has ended his international career.

He will still play locally and domestically for North East Valley, but has traded playing at the top level to become Bowls New Zealand’s high performance head coach.

"There was an opportunity to get into the coaching environment, so I had to weigh up what do I really want to do," Kernaghan said.

"I had a good run internationally, and 2016 was pretty cool for me. It was a shame we didn’t get the opportunity to defend the world title in 2020 — because of Covid, the world champs were cancelled.

"You get to a point where, I’m 67 this year, you think whether you can actually play at that level.

"I'm 25 years older than the next oldest bloke in the New Zealand team. So it was probably a good time for me to step aside from the playing."

His focus since July has been on Commonwealth Games preparations.

That involved a 42-player squad, made up of both men’s and women’s players, as well as para and visually-impaired players, for the first time.

He is still based in Dunedin, although spends time on the road with a series of camps around the country.

While new to the role, coaching was not new to Kernaghan.

He has coached individuals over the past 25 years and it is something he has enjoyed.

Creating a culture and environment in which everyone was comfortable and knew their role within the squad was one of his main goals.

That would be particularly important given the integration of the para and visually impaired players into the team.

Knowing the players beyond their ability on the green would be important, too.

"I want to look at, and I want the support staff to understand, the players as more than just a bowler," Kernaghan said.

"Understanding who that person is and how what we do with them impacts on them, not only as a bowler, but understanding what their aspirations and motivations are and what’s happening with the rest of the life. That can impact on their sporting performance."

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