Hamm started playing baseball and softball when he was about 10 years old. During high school, Hamm continued with softball as well as football, wrestling, track and field, and rugby. In his graduating year at South Carleton High School, Hamm was selected as Male Athlete of the Year. Hamm played football for five years and lettered for four years at McMaster University. He also threw shot put in his last two years in University. After graduating from McMaster, Hamm changed sports to rugby. He competed in Eastern Ontario with his club team and played rep for Ontario; But that wasn’t the end of Hamm’s sports career, “I was also fortunate enough to play rugby at a high level in New Zealand, Australia and Fiji. I feel that my exposure to so many varied sports has allowed me to keep training and competing even as I approach 60 years old. The more sports you compete in, the better.” says Hamm.
Hamm says that his favourite part of coaching is “the technical aspect and teaching fundamentals of sports. But even more, I enjoy the mental aspect of the game. How do you develop a style that hits all the players you coach? That is critical to me. Each athlete is different and comes from a different place. Finding the trigger for each of them is a positive challenge. Finally, just teaching and guiding athletes as they work towards their level of success (and success is different for each one) is a huge benefit to me.”
Player safety is an important part of the game. Check out this video, featuring Hamm, from the Orleans Bengals’ Safe Contact Clinic:
“But honestly, the best thing I ever did was putting a team of athletes from all over the region together and taking it on the road to Nova Scotia in 2011. We were just a group of NCAFA players with some additions that went to play the NS provincial team. Just putting that team together was success enough, but what that trip did for so many of the players who would never have had that opportunity is the most rewarding part. Many have gone on to higher levels, some never played again. But they all stay connected even to this day, when they see me, they always say, ‘Hey Coach, remember when we went to Nova Scotia and we did…?’.” says Hamm. He says there are so many more amazing moments, too many to name.
Hamm says that one of his biggest challenges as a coach has been “changing my coaching philosophy and communication skills. When I started in 1982, all coaches were hard on players at every level. We were coached that way and knew no better. However, as the years have gone by, that has changed and those coaches who still embody that style, have fallen by the wayside. For me it has taken research, trial and error, working with coach mentors and observing both good and bad coaching styles. Being a "systems" coach is easy, reaching athletes in today's world is hard. Today's athletes have so many choices and influences, that you need to be positive, nurturing and working to develop resilience. My saying now is this " You can't do it.....yet!" That one word "yet" is a very powerful and positive word. I have also learned that there is an art to talking to a player. I call it "Feed Forward" meaning I do not tell a player what they did wrong, I advise them on how to get a better result in the future. This has not been an easy transition, and players will tell you that sometimes I can be tough, but like the athlete, the coach has to work hard every day just to get better.”
Here is a video from the Athlete Success Event where Rob Hamm speaks about 'Sports for Life':