I am Julien Billaut, I am French and I have been living in Penrith, NSW, Australia for 5 years. I have coached different teams (Australia, China, Turkey, International Canoe Federation Talent ID program) both at the higest level and at a development level at all domestic and international levels. The different cultures I have come across in my career have shaped and influanced how I coach today.
Why do I coach?
Often, I get asked: “what do you do in your job? Do you teach canoeing?”
As a High Performance coach, I see teaching sport specific skills as a big part of my job. I’d be foolish and unrealistic not too! I am also very grateful to stand by the water; being outdoor is a huge part of my well-being. Nevertheless, there are two things I get excited about.
Helping athletes to grow to their full potential
I am a very optimistic person and I believe that everyone as the ability to climb the ladder of success. Ultimately, I see it as a collaboration. A successful coach athlete relationship should evolve according to the level of maturity of both sides. Most of the time, the coach is likely to be more experienced and aware of “what it takes to win” (big picture), while the athlete is very much in the present, taking action. My job is to guide the athlete from the dance floor to the balcony. I believe that being more mindful of every single action you take will help refine the next. In the end, the athlete should know how to use his environment to reach his goal by respecting others.
I see curiosity, personal engagement, self belief, self accountability and respect as stepping-stones to that endlessly growing relationship. Without those, neither the coach nor the athlete will move beyond the obvious… and this is where I begin my individual quest of exploration.
It is like providing your orchids with the basics needs. You provide light, water and soil according to their origins. They will survive and grow green and long leaves…
Explore to create and innovate
Let’s get curious and passionate about things! Getting curious happens when you spend time on a given task. Far too often, we overlook daily tasks, we forget to ask ourselves the questions that may help us make sense of an event or increase our understanding about what we do and what we want to improve.
I believe that you spark your curiosity by taking the time to get your hands dirty. The first step is to become more knowledgeable about a subject by spending time on it. That newly accrued knowledge triggers the enquiring mind which is so valuable to accomplish big things and move forward. The good thing is that it is a snowball effect: the more knowledgeable, the more angles of attack you have to reframe a challenge; and reframing is the key to innovation. By the way I enjoyed reading Insight Out by Tina Seelig about imagination, creativity and innovation.
Neurosciences, breathing, behavioural psychology, optimism, creativity are a few of the fields that I love exploring. To be honest, I may not grasp everything at first but I believe that I have come a long way in gathering information and shaping up my own coaching philosophy.
It is like providing the extra things your orchids need to accelerate growth: fertilizers for example. You may want to fertilize with a fertiliser rich in nitrogen to grow leaves or rich in phosphorus/ potassium to grow many colourful flowers
Now, you put personal growth, collective growth and exploration in the cauldron of High Performance and I can tell you that you’d better be comfortable with being uncomfortable. The High Performance environment acts as a catalyst. In brief, you’d better learn smarter, and quicker than the others if you want to succeed. The few working that extra bit (passionate about giving our best everyday) will be harvesting the medals. The more competition, the more interesting it becomes, the more innovation emerges.
Most orchids will bloom after a period of stress (drought, cooler period with more light). Without stress an orchid won’t bloom. They need the environmental pressure to bloom and be at their best to attract insects (for example) to perpetuate the species.
As human beings part of an Olympic sport, it is our duty to find clarity in chaos to further push beyond the limits and improve our athletes, our sport and our community.
High Performance Coach
I have been coaching Canoe Slalom for 9 years beginning in 2010.
- From 2013-present: Australian Canoeing / National Coach, NSW Institute of Sport Head Coach
- 2011-2013: Guangdong Team (China) Head Coach
- 2010-2011: Turkish National Team Development Coach
Despite the facts that cultures, values, and individuals may be different, I am confident that the principles to apply are the same. The challenge, then, becomes to find a way to apply effectively what it takes to win…
Back to my orchids metaphor…if you apply the same diet of sun, temperature, light, fertilizer to a Phalaenopsis (warm epiphytic) and a Masdevallia (cold, terrestrial), chances are one will rot or dry. In fact, you want to play with the same parameters but in subtly different way for each to ensure good growth.
- 3x World Champion 2006 (individual), 2006, 2005 (team event)
- European Champion 2004
- 2nd Overall World Cup 2003
I competed in the Men’s Kayak category as a French team member from 2003 to 2009. A few times, I got “lucky” enough to beat very talented individuals such as Peter Kauzer, Daniele Molmenti, Fabien Lefèvre, Vavra Hradileck…