“Stop only thinking about yourself and think about the team”

It is the biggest challenge for any athlete who starts to train a team, as is the case of Wouter olde Heuvel, a great speed skater who now manages the Team Just Lease

The transition from being an elite athlete to becoming a coach is common in the sports world. This also happened to Wouter olde Heuvel. The successful speed skater ended his career in 2016 and became the assistant coach of Team Just Lease. How does he experience the transformation from just thinking about his own development to coaching athletes and thinking about their individual development and the team as well?

“Unfortunately, I had to end my speed skating career due to injury,” says Wouter. “However, I didn’t want to say goodbye to the sport yet, because it’s just too beautiful. The transition to become a coach was logical for me, because I have always been helpful towards my speed skating colleagues, giving them advice and guidance. I noticed that I really liked doing that. Speed skating will always be my passion and like this, I have the feeling that I can contribute something to the sport.”

“Last summer, I won the Telesport scholarship,” he continues, “so I was able start the Master in Coaching at Johan Cruyff Institute last September. During this program, I am being guided by a personal coach. In my case this is Henk Groener, the former head coach of the women’s handball team, who is teaching me a lot. Instead of having my own assumptions, I now want to know what is going on from the athletes themselves. Thinking for others is never a good thing.”

Wouter olde Heuvel - Think about the team - Master in Coaching - Johan Cruyff Institute

“I am also holding back more with my own input. Often, it is better to let the athletes think for themselves about how they can become better and what the best route is for them. Of course, we work according to schedules, but besides that I let the athletes experience more by themselves.”

“As a top athlete, you are only focused on yourself, while as a coach, you only focus on others. That is a difficult transition, but also an amazing challenge. What motivates me as a coach is to reach the highest possible level with the athletes. It’s fantastic to get the maximum out of a speed skater, especially with the young talent in our team. I can guide and teach them a lot. It’s amazing to see the progression on a daily basis.”


Johan Cruyff Institute uses a rich learning environment that fosters educational tools based on a student interaction model. We aim for a mix of students from sports and business sectors, which also enables students to share their unique experiences and learn from each other. The students will engage actively in creative challenges that require effort, commitment and intuitive thinking. Visit our web pages to find out more about our programs, for example:

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