Holm Truths: Tim Taylor planning for the future
Every player needs a life after rugby.
Gloucester fly-half Tim Taylor explains how the first generation of the professional era are gearing up to turn one end into a new beginning.
ANY good playmaker keeps their options open.
Just as Tim Taylor keeps defences guessing with a flat running pass or a smart tactical line-kick, so the Cherry and Whites fly-half is fitting several strings to his post-rugby bow.
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The 30-year-old hopes his playing retirement is still only just fringing the horizon.
But even if he does have a few good years left in his personal Kingsholm tank, he still knows he must be primed to shift gear seamlessly from professional rugby to the world of work.
Last year the former Leicester Tigers academy out-half set up TTPT, his personal training business.
A level-three qualified personal trainer, Taylor trains budding sports stars in his free time, drawing on his experience and knowledge gained from top-level sport, as well as his industry-specific credentials.
He is not about to settle for just the one option, though, and is already lending a helping coaching hand with Gloucester academy.
The RFU level two qualified coach works on kicking technique and skills with Gloucester's Under-13s and Under-14s, and also helps sharpen those age groups' forwards' skills.
Club coaching is always an enticing prospect for current players – but the wise among them realise the finite number of top-level jobs makes the discipline extremely tough to crack.
If only the strong survive as players Premiership and Championship management, evolution is far more brutal.
That's why Taylor and a clutch of his Cherry and Whites team-mates are also currently taking a course on how to coach sports in secondary schools.
James Simpson-Daniel led Taylor, Mike Tindall, Olly Morgan and Will James into the course, run by former Sedbergh School and Cheltenham College coach Neil Rollings.
Rollings is the man Simpson-Daniel credits with launching his playing career – and now five Gloucester stars are hoping he can kick-start future school coaching roles too.
"I'm just doing as much as I can in my spare time," Taylor explained.
"Obviously one day rugby will come to an end, and when that day comes you want to be ready to go straight into another job if possible.
"We've had chats with the RPA and especially the older you get the more you want to get under your belt for when you finish.
"It's a little scary but hopefully I've got a few more good years in me yet.
"At the moment the PT side of things is probably the least prevalent.
"It's mostly kicking coaching as things stand, with a couple of the younger academy boys at Gloucester in the Under-13s and 14s.
"And then I'm helping some of the forwards with some skills work too.
"That's enjoyable, working on their basic ball-handling skills and footwork.
"At the beginning of the year we did a little bit of conditioning work with them, similar to what we do, just to see how they would handle it.
"I'll be doing one day a month with the academy under-15s, working along with Stan (academy boss Andrew Stanley), doing some kicking coaching work with them.
"Even though it's rugby it's a different focus.
"I'm really enjoying the kicking side of it with all the analysis that comes with it.
"The course with the boys with Neil Rollings is another intriguing aspect to things.
"Coaching styles for schools is completely different from working within a club, and it's great to tap into someone as qualified and successful as Neil."
Communicating in professional rugby speak has become second-nature to Taylor –but he said he is relishing the challenge of translating Premiership jargon, shorthand and techniques into straightforward, accessible instruction for youngsters of all ages and abilities.
He continued: "The hardest part of coaching youngsters is getting them to perform a certain skill to a certain level, and then repeat it exactly the same way.
"You can't just show them footage of how someone like Freddie (Burns) kicks, then tell them to copy it.
"They've got to understand why he kicks like that, the mechanics of how that happens, so you have to be able to deconstruct it and build it back up.
"Getting your point across clearly and quickly is a big challenge – you have to adapt that depending on the age of the youngsters.
"It really makes you look at rugby in a different perspective – you have to try to put yourself in their shoes.
"With the academy work we're tailoring everything from skills to strength and conditioning to suit their development stages and age.
"We're even looking at aspects of analysis with it all and it's pretty exciting.
"Coaching can take on so many different forms these days. I think at the stage I am now the important thing is to try to build experience and qualifications, and just gain as much knowledge as possible.
"If it leads to something further down the line that would be fantastic."