Top Athletes Dieke Hendriks and Jetze Plat: Their Journey to Excellent Coaching

May 16, 2024

Top Athletes Dieke Hendriks and Jetze Plat: Their Journey to Excellent Coaching

Explore how these two top athletes integrate their athletic backgrounds with the Leadership in Coaching Program at Johan Cruyff Institute Amsterdam and be well prepared for their future in sports and coaching

Top athletes Dieke Hendriks and Jetze Plat aren’t just elite athletes; they’re also Leadership in Coaching Program students at Johan Cruyff Institute. Dieke Hendriks, a cyclist and recent graduate of the Johan Cruyff Academy in Tilburg, has seamlessly combined her love for cycling with obtaining her bachelor’s degree in Sport Marketing. Now focusing on coaching, she shares insights into the transition to self-directed learning and the development of her own coaching style. “At first, it was a bit of an adjustment,” admits Dieke, “because during my bachelor’s program, there was a clear structure, but in this coaching program, the responsibility for your own learning process lies entirely with you. It’s all about getting to know yourself better, understanding who you are, and then developing your own coaching style that suits you.”

“In this coaching program, the responsibility for your own learning process lies entirely with you. It’s all about getting to know yourself better, understanding who you are, and then developing your own coaching style that suits you.”
Top Athletes Dieke Hendriks and Jetze Plat: Their Journey to Excellent Coaching

Dieke Hendriks and her team.

Meanwhile, Jetze Plat, born with two underdeveloped legs, has become an icon in the world of handcycling. As a Paralympic champion, Plat has not only honed his athletic skills but also his understanding of coaching and leadership. “As a top athlete, the focus of coaching has always been on myself, but I also want to develop myself in everything surrounding that,” says Jetze Plat about his motivation to start the Leadership in Coaching Program. “The motto of the program is that you can only coach others if you can coach yourself, and I was convinced that this program would give me better insights, so I was really looking forward to starting!”

Top Athletes Dieke Hendriks and Jetze Plat: Their Journey to Excellent Coaching

Jetze Plat.

These two top athletes are studying with a scholarship from Telesport and embody the spirit of Johan Cruyff: excelling not only on the field but also as leaders beyond the sport field. Their dedication to their sport and personal development inspires to strive for excellence, on and off the field.

Both of you are top athletes. What exactly led you to start a coaching education now?

Dieke: “As part of my studies at Johan Cruyff Academy Tilburg, I took a minor in Sports Performance, and there I discovered that I also found sports training and coaching super interesting. You’re never too old to learn, and the coaching profession kept drawing me in. So when I graduated, I actually transitioned straight to Johan Cruyff Institute to start this Leadership in Coaching Program.”

Jetze: “I had been thinking about doing this program for about two or three years. It’s quite difficult to combine top-level sports with education alongside. But after my active sports career, I really want to help other people, and I think I still have a lot to learn. As an athlete, I’ve experienced a lot, especially how coaching towards myself works. And I’ve also helped some young talents myself. That’s why I realized that I still wanted to have many more skills for that. So this was the perfect option for me.”

What stands out the most for you from this Leadership in Coaching Program?

Jetze: “I think the most important thing for me is that I learned to ask good and especially many more open questions, instead of questions where you might already have the answer in your head before asking them. I’ve become really aware that I often immediately searched for an answer, but that it actually was a confirmation of an answer that you already had in your head, so to speak. I’ve learned to develop the patience that comes with getting all the information entirely from the other person, and with that, you achieve something much more beautiful and valuable together.”

And for you as an athlete?

Jetze: “For me as an athlete, it’s mainly recognizing how many different coaches you actually have around you. And that many different forms of coaching can all work, but all in really different ways. And yes, for one person, one thing works better than for another. You realize how many and what coaching styles there actually are. That’s very enriching. You can say that the toolkit for guiding different people is now more filled, and it can be filled much more, but I’m fully engaged in that.”

Top Athletes Dieke Hendriks and Jetze Plat: Their Journey to Excellent Coaching - Johan Cruyff Institute

Dieke Hendriks with some of her fellow student-coaches.

And what do you especially take away from the program, Dieke?

Dieke: “Well, as an athlete, I was very solution-oriented, for myself and even when it came to others. Thanks to the program, I ask more open questions, as Jetze mentioned, and I now see that it’s often better not to come up with a solution right away, but to let someone think for themselves. And personally, as an athlete, I was in a rehabilitation process for a long time. I wanted to come back as quickly as possible, which is of course also logical. But I realized that it can also hinder a full recovery. So better reflecting on what you’re doing and finding the right balance is very important, and that’s one of the things I take as an athlete from this coaching program.”

And how did the program give you back that balance?

Dieke: “Well, that’s a continuous process and still ongoing now. But I’m very consciously engaged with it. On the one hand, you really want to perform well in your sport, which is of course also something very valuable that helps you well in your rehabilitation process. But on the other hand, there’s also the signal from your body, indicating what you need. And if you don’t listen to the signals from your body, or to what you need at that moment, well, then it’s not going well in both sports and coaching. So you definitely have to be in balance to let everything come into its own pace.”

Which professor has particularly inspired you and why?

Jetze: “What I find the most beautiful about my learning process is that all the professors are so different. One is very calm and listens, encouraging you to work on yourself, while the other overwhelms you with information and things that you can filter for yourself. Each session is really different. And that’s the same in the world of sports. Every coach is different. I don’t have one favorite because each time it’s very engaging thanks to that variety.”

Dieke: “Yes, that mix is interesting; you can learn something from everyone, and what that is can be very different for each person. And if you want to delve further into a topic, or if you find something mega-interesting, you can approach that professor, and there’s room to explore it further. So, I’ve learned more than what was covered in the sessions of the program.”

Looking into the future, what would you like to do with what you’ve learned?

Dieke: “As both an athlete and coach, I prioritize the theme of balance, while my solution-oriented approach is becoming increasingly uncommon. Moreover, I aspire to assist others in their development using this experience. I believe that coaching training equips you with a multitude of tools to guide various individuals. Each person is unique, and what resonates with one may not work for another. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that pursuing one’s passion ultimately leads to success, and I intend to continue employing this philosophy in the years ahead, alongside everything I have learned here!”

Jetze: “I’ve mainly learned, or actually unlearned, to judge, something I might have done more quickly in the past. Before I could more easily collaborate with people who were more like me, but I had difficulty understanding those who chose a different path. I’ve learned how to develop patience, and I’m now better able to understand and respect different perspectives. It has become important for me to appreciate the intrinsic value of others and to guide them while trying to understand their own path in order to support them in it.”


Coaching Programs

Coaching is more than the use of tactical and technical knowledge as per Johan Cruyff’s vision. Coaching is about managing oneself, the players & staff, the team and the environment. Each participant’s personal background is the base for their further development and better understanding of themselves as a coach and/or manager. This program is delivered in English and Dutch.

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