Ken Hodge has had some of the best seats at international sporting competitions around the world ranging from the Olympics to the Commonwealth Games. But you wouldn't have seen him in the crowd. Instead, Ken, a Mental Skills Trainer, has been on the sidelines with the athletes, where he puts his background into practice by helping them reach their peak performances.
Ken doesn't just focus on elite athletes, however. He also works with athletes of all levels and age groups, implementing his 'Sports as LifeSkill Development' research at intermediate and secondary schools around Dunedin.
"You can teach life skills through sport. You can use it to cope with pressure and stress, as motivation, and to learn how to work as a team member," Ken maintains.
His work with adolescents has helped him create courses such as his GOAL Programme, Rugby Advantage Programme (RAP), and with PhD student Ihi Heke, the Hokowhitu Programme which is aimed at Maori youth.
Many of the principles that Ken researches and teaches have come from his own first-hand knowledge as both a rugby player and coach. Having played for Otago's University A team in the early 80s as an undergrad, Ken coached the same squad to their 2003 and '04 club championships.
After receiving his PhD from the United States, Ken returned to his alma mater in 1988 as an associate professor for the School of Physical Education. "It's been nice coming to work with those who taught me. It's great to contribute to the place where I started."