Working in sport requires ‘discipline and self-belief’ – Rob McCracken
Published 18 March 2015
Former middleweight boxer Rob McCracken led the GB Boxing programme to historic success at London 2012. In his role as Performance Director, McCracken oversees and leads a team of full-time GB Boxing coaches and a support staff of 10 sport science and medicine practitioners - the majority of which are contracted from the English Institute of Sport (EIS). McCracken spoke to us about his role and what motivates him about working in British high performance sport…
Can you describe your typical day?
My days can be very different! Some days start with calls with boxers who may be all around the world, or meeting coaches and other members of the support team with new ideas or to help arrange the day’s schedule. But generally I’m on the track by 7.45am to start the day alongside our boxers with a run, moving onto strength and conditioning training between 10am-12pm, then to shadow boxing and a boxing session in the afternoon from 3pm-6pm. That’s a typical day. In between all of that there are staff meetings, other aspects and facets of GB Boxing itself. Also spending key time with the CEO Matt Holt - so it’s very busy to say the least. My average day will finish about 8pm.
There’s not a day that goes by that we’re not planning moving forward and preparing boxers to achieve something – whether that’s qualifying for an Olympics or winning a medal at one. Everything is designed to try and aid that, every boxer here gets every bit of assistance we can offer to help them achieve that. It was important to me that every boxer in the system knew that if they had the ability, the discipline and put in the hard work, they will make it at the top level. The understanding is there and they’ve seen time and time again that it can be done – the vision is trying to consistently create boxers that can go on to take medals at Olympics and all the tournaments in between that.
What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?
Being able to work with the best young boxers up and down the UK and being able to give them an opportunity to show what they can do in the world of boxing and achieve great things for themselves, their families and for the programme, that’s the most pleasing thing.
I can remember doing well at London 2012; it was just so vindicating and satisfying that we’d really achieved great things for both the programme and for individuals, and knowing that you’d done your bit, the team’s done their bit. The most pleasing thing was seeing every part of the team – whether it was a psychologist, a coach or the boxer - at the venue celebrating the win like one big happy family.
What is the most difficult aspect of your job?
I think it’s the disappointment when a boxer doesn’t make the grade because they haven’t given it 100%, when they’ve tried to cut corners and it has backfired.
What makes the GB Boxing team so successful? Can you talk about the team behind the team?
The support team we have here are experts in their fields they fully understand what’s needed for the boxers, more so as we’ve individualised the programmes, so there’s a good knowledge and understanding of each other. I don’t think there’s another programme like it that works on each other’s behalf so consistently. The boxers come first and we do everything to support them to become an elite athlete and to achieve things. We help each other on a daily basis, we put opportunities in place for team members and, as long as it ultimately aids the programme, we do whatever we can for each and every person on the programme. First and foremost everyone is here to help these boxers become Olympic champions, but secondly we’re all here to help each other and work together as a team.
What’s been the most useful piece of advice you’ve been given?
This is probably slightly away from sport but the most useful piece of advice I’ve been given was from the former chairman Derek Mapp who told me to listen before I spoke, and to fully understand the subject before I gave my opinion. I didn’t quite understand at the time, I thought to myself ‘oh that’ll be simple enough’, but sometimes you have to know fully where people are coming from in order to make an informed contribution. Otherwise you’re jumping in, getting things wrong, or in some cases making the wrong decisions.
What would you say to someone who’s considering a career in sport?
I would say that you have to be smart, you have to be disciplined, you have to believe in yourself and you have to give it 100%. If you mix all of that with your ability you will do really well.
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