Interview with Lenka Hajeckova

Lenka is one of the few female coaches on the FIVB tour. A former player herself, she made the transition to coaching when Kristina Kolocova asked her for help. Now she is responsible for the development of Dubocvoa/Strbova. Read in her interview what she thinks about female coaches on the FIVB tour.

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

Not only for mothers, but for all women, It is especially difficult to have so time-consuming job and family, all at once. We can not stop working after practice, because it is time to do all houseworks, drive kids to activities and then help them with homeworks. It is almost impossible to find time for rest. When i combine all these duties with traveling for tournaments, sportcamps, preparation for practices, selfeducation ( read books, study videos,courses) and i fell  like i work 24/7. There is allways in my mind, if i dont forget to buy something for dinner, if kids are ready for school, how i can help my players to get better, all at once. I just can not switch off coach part of me and be just mama, or dont think about my family, when i am on sand. Women are good in multitasking, thankfully ☺

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.

When i finished my career in 2015 as a player, i never thought i can be a coach.I also played indoor volleyball ( WCH 2002 as libero) and i finished Faculty of physical education, specialization volleyball. Kristyna Kolocova asked me in 2015, after she split with Marketa Slukova,if i can help her to find new partner and coach them. I coached few amateurs before and helped Michal Palinek with his players  but this was my first big coach challenge. When Kristyna finished our collaboration i was thinking to not coach anymore. But group of male players from Czech republic ( Dumek, Berčík, Kufa, Lenc,…) asked me, if i can train them in Prague. It was big lesson for me and my second big challenge as a coach. Current one is with team Slovakia, Naty and Andy. I can do it on this level just because of support from my husband, kids, parents and great relationship with Miloš Dubovec.

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

I dont think so. You can be authoritarian, friendly, kind, strict, communicative,….and doesnt matter if you are woman or man. It is about personality and preferences. Somebody prefer woman as a coach, somebody man, and it is ok, if it works 🙂

How would you describe your coaching style? 

It will be funny to ask Naty and Andy. I like to go always on 100% and do individual work to improve yourself. I am strict with technical aspects and  If i miss this, i can be really hard and i dont do compromise. I learnt on myself, that you need to do something more  than others, if you want better results.

What are the advantages for women coaches?

I believe it is really importat that players know they can come to me and trust me. It can be anything. Game situation, problem with boyfriend, health issues, some fears,… I try to understand, how they feel on the court and out of the court also. I was player  so i know these feelings during the game and i try to share my experience with girls.  Natalia said i have „mama radar“, because i can see immediately, if she has flu, or some other healt issue. This is my gentle part, but i can be really hard on them also. They use to say i am like a man then ☺

What challenges do you face specifically because you are a woman?

It wasnt easy sometimes to be coach of male players. I wasnt sure all the time, if i had full respect and trust. I think for women it is more difficult to convince men, that we have same coach skills as our male colleagues. Personalities of players and coach have to click together, doesnt mater, if you are man or woman. I believe this is more important than gender.

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 do my best to have good relationship with them and i believe we have. I really appreciate, they  accept me with all my duties ( kids, family, trainings in Prague) and i try to pay back with my hard work on court and also out of the court as a friend. I think we have closer relationship because i am a woman. We can talk about everything and there is no topic we can not talk about

Who has influenced you the most in your coaching and coaching style? 

I have to say, It was my husband and dad, who helped me to do that important step in the beggining and they supported me, when i was making decision if i accept offer from Kolocova-Kvapilova to coach them and then continue with team Dubovcová (now Přidalová)-Štrbová. And they are supporting me all the time! I dont have any assistant, so i am really grateful i can discuss my ideas and doubts with Martin Olejňák. He is an inspiration for me. I am influenced also by my indoor coaches. They helped me with all technical aspects and pushed me forward all the time. Due to them i am so strict with accuracy and 100% effort during practice.

What’s the best piece of advice you have recently heard? 

Believe in yourself ( At least little bit as a player and coach also)

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

I thought every practice need to be unique,  with new exercises all the time and it will be fun way for players to achieve their goals. But with more experience i am learning, maybe some simple routine and repetition can help players even faster.

Favorite quote? 

That which does not kill me, makes me stronger. (Fridrich Nietsche)

Favorite book? 

Luděk Bukač – Moje hokejové století ( czech book – icehockey coach) 

 Phil Jackson – Eleven Rings