Former Cork star Kissane’s ‘jigsaw approach’ to improvement

By Kieran Lynch

LOOKING for ways to have your team as prepared as you can be in the new season? Paudie Kissane Sports Performance’s Jigsaw Approach might be what your team needs.

An All-Ireland Champion with Cork in 2010, Kissane has been involved in a range of backroom teams, in a variety of roles including strength and conditioning and coaching, but his latest initiative focuses on coaches self-evaluating in order to best prepare their team for success.

“I’ve done strength and conditioning and coaching in different roles for a number of years, but this focuses on just one area of it. The key area I’m focusing on is this thing called ‘The Jigsaw Approach.’ If you’re involved with backroom staff or management, it’s all about ‘what can we do to improve the team?’ But who’s the person improving the manager?” asks Kissane.

The jigsaw approach can be beneficial for any team, at any level in Ireland, and instead of a general coaching course, the approach is individually tailored to the needs of the team. Instead of a coach putting their team through drills that they think they should be doing, the jigsaw approach gives coaches better clarity on how to best set their team up for success, without any wasted time during training.

“A coach can do a course, or check out stuff on the internet, or they can speak to colleagues or friends, but with every team, even if you’re over the same team for more than one year, there’s so many things that feed into performance – that’s the jigsaw, there’s so many pieces,” said Kissane.

“It’s about trying to identify, based on that, what your jigsaw is and what’s relevant to your group. Identifying where the gaps are, or where the perceived problem is and then creating a solution for that.

“You could be thinking ‘I need a drill for this, or a drill for that,’ but that’s not necessarily what I’m thinking. It’s not just about, ‘I want to get a drill for tackling, or I want the team to get fitter.’

“You analyse how the coach is performing: how are they behaving? How are they executing something? How are they giving feedback? How are they reviewing things? Is that what the team needs?

“You would be having these conversations already with your team, maybe on a more informal basis with colleagues or with friends from another team, but ultimately, what we’re trying to do here is make the person a better decision maker.”

As described on the Paudie Kissane Sports Performance website, many factors go into the jigsaw approach and because every team is unique – so too is the approach.

“The way I like to view team performance is that irrespective of what team or competition it is, every season is like a new jigsaw. The pieces are the players, backroom team, the physical preparation, the systems, the tactics, and the environment they operate in. How we piece that jigsaw together is heavily influenced by our biases, experiences, or perspective,” wrote Kissane on his website.

For any team to reach their maximum potential, in addition to having beneficial training tailored to the needs of the team, and tactics based on the strengths of the team, they also need to be sharp both physically and mentally.

“Improving performance is all encompassing: technical, tactical, physical, psychological, they’re all interlinked,” believes the All-Ireland Champion.

Kissane, who has a degree in Sports Science isn’t claiming to have all the answers, but he feels that his knowledge in this field, combined with years of playing experience at the highest level provides him with expertise he can offer to other coaches.

“I went back to college in my mid-twenties to do sports science, and that gave me a massive interest in wanting to know why we trained certain ways, why we did certain drills et cetera. I love playing, but I also love being involved in preparing teams.

“I’m not saying I do everything right, but it just comes from having experience of being in backroom teams and having different roles and still being a player, which I feel helps me gather information.”

In all, the jigsaw approach invites coaches to self-scout and have open conversations about their own performance in delivering training and preparing their team, to help the team get the most out of their potential.

“At the end of the day, better preparation equals better potential performance,” said Kissane.

“It’s about how prepared we are for what we can control; and the first part of that is who’s delivering the training. If you can perform your role as best as you can, well then there’s a better chance of having an impact on the players.

“There’s such a focus on ‘what can I do to improve the players?’ But first we must look at, ‘what can I do to improve myself?’

“If you were to come onboard with the jigsaw approach, there’s different stages of planning for different stages of the season, and that’s never straight forward. But with this, there is a structure in place where you can have that conversation.”

For more information on the jigsaw approach visit



SELF-RELECTION…Paudie Kissane, who won an All-Ireland with Corkin 2010, has emphasised the importance of self-evaluation for coaches

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