Malcolm Brown

056: Malcolm Brown on a career in coaching and lessons from the Brownlees

This episode’s guest is Malcolm Brown a Performance Coach based at the Leeds Triathlon Centre where he has partnered with Jack Maitland in coaching the Brownlee Brothers, that’s Alastair and Jonny – two of the greatest triathlon racers of all time.

He was previously the head endurance coach for UK Athletics, coaching athletes to international gold medals at Commonwealth, European, World and Olympic level

Malcolm has journeyed through what would be considered one of the most traditional routes for a coach, being a PE teacher by trade, coaching in his spare time almost always on a volunteer basis and then as the system in the UK developed he began to coach professionally, first for athletics, then later in triathlon

In this interview, Malcolm reflects over the long arc of his career and draws on the lessons that have kept him so stable, cogent and wise. Malcolm tells it like it is about the state of coaching and how it has been underinvested in, how it lacks the recognition and prominence that it deserves but ardently hopes for better and is active in creating that future for coaching.

He’s supposed to be retired, but he’s still extremely active in the coaching community, having established the Leeds triathlon centre and recently the Endurance think tank. We start the conversation with a recent health scare for Malcolm, which it sounds as though many of his athletes ‘coached’ him through.

Show notes:

Club Le Santa, Lanzarote and a heart attack

How Malcolm occupied his mind when recuperating

Context to Malcolm’s 42 year coaching career

Paternal role model, interest in multiple sports, Head down and Head up perspectives from academics

Malcolm’s athletic career and the insights provided by his own injuries!

Finding the right words at the right time to support the athlete

Working with Alistair and Jonny Brownlee and picking up body language indicators in order to adapt sessions clip

Malcolm didn’t want coaching to be his job, he enjoyed his independence and autonomy too much!!

The common language of a team

Coach with significant input from the athletes led the training environment

Coach development roles, skills and competencies

The benefits of the endurance think tank

Malcolm’s observations around successful junior athletes not progressing to being successful senior athletes and the reasons he identified

The resourcefulness of the Brownlee brother’s and the necessity for them to make their own decisions as they are the athlete

How has Malcolm’s input changed with the Brownlees over time

Physiological efficiency

Malcolm’s nuggets of wisdom

Fail better!

Malcolm on Twitter

Leeds National Endurance Centre

International Council for Coaching Excellence

Supporting Champions on Twitter

Steve Ingham on Twitter

Supporting Champions on Linkedin,

Join our Facebook ‘ Performance People’ community,

Students studying sport and want to get into sports and performance, sign up to our online course ‘Kickstart performance skills’

Take the next step in your career through our coaching and mentoring support,

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Dr Steve Ingham is one of the UK’s leading figures in sport and one of the world’s leading performance scientists. He is steeped in high performance and has been integral to the development of Britain into an Olympic superpower. He has provided support to over 1000 athletes, of which over 200 have achieved World or Olympic medal success, including some of the world’s greatest athletes such as Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent. Steve has coached Kelly Sotherton's running for heptathlon and to 4x400m Olympic medal winning success. Steve has worked at the English Sports Council British Olympic Association, English Institute of Sport, where Steve was the Director of Science and Technical Development, leading a team of 200 scientists in support of Team GB and Paralympics GB. Ingham holds a BSc, PhD and is a Fellow of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences. Steve is author of the best selling ‘How to Support a Champion: The art of applying science to the elite athlete’, discussing and inspiring the importance of learning and adapting to reach our maximum potential. Steve established Supporting Champions with the ambition of helping ambitious people to find a better way of creating high-performance. Steve hosts the Supporting Champions Podcast on sharing his pursuit of understanding and exploration in performance.

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