Interview with Helke Claasen

Helke Claasen had some success as a player (WC 5th, ECH 5th) before she started as a coach. She was part of the coaches team around Ludwig/Walkenhorst and is one of the very few female beachvolleyball coaches. Read more about here thoughts in our interview.

Women coaches in professional Beachvolleyball: There are not many. Why do you think this is the case?

As a professional coach, the balancing act between family and work is an extremely high challenge. In my view, it is a trade-off between a passion for beach volleyball against a lot of time abroad and little long-term security at work.

Can you tell us your path to becoming a coach? Was there a specific moment or decision that brought you to coaching? Please give us as much detail as you are willing.

I was also active as a player until 2008 and then started as a regional coach in the youth field with the talent development in the greater Hamburg area. A specific moment – I can´t remember. In 2012 the team Ludwig / Walkenhorst asked, whether I would like to take over the home training of the two in addition to the two coaches Jürgen (Wagner) and Hans Voigt. Working alongside youth work in the professional field sounded appealing. Working and learning with the two luminaries J. Wagner / H. Voigt was simply outstanding. Since 2018 I have been responsible for women Beachvolleyball, together with Imornefe Bowes as national coach.

Do you believe there is a specific female way of coaching?

I think no, I am convinced that every coach has a specific style. Whether there is a female way is probably the best way for the players to judge. In addition to coaching, there is always an interpersonal level that might provide another approach but has nothing to do with the gender.

How would you describe your coaching style?

Difficult question… The idea – philosophy from J. Wagner- H. Voigt, which convinced me, is action-oriented work with maximum personal responsibility on the part of the player. In order to improve and develop things, maximum quality is needed in training. To lead the player there and to accompany you to work on that limit in every training session, I see as an essential part of my work. I want to have confident players on the field, than I have to give you that self-esteem, communicate on an equal footing and strengthen your personality.

What are the advantages for women coaches?

I never or rarely apologize for too good serves by myself during practise 😉

You seem to have a very good relationship and good access to your players. Is this true and if so, do you believe your gender plays any role in this?

 I think that the age difference is still not too big at the moment to have a very good and close relationship… I don’t think gender is very important. The challenge is the clear boundary between on-court relationship and off-court relationship. Just because I just had a cafe with a player, the focus in training is on maximum quality, high performance and respect.

What is one previous belief you had that you have since learned is wrong?

One thing that at least convinced me completely: you have to be as flexible as a coach in your head, because it always comes differently than planned.