"What is coaching really," Jean-Pierre Egger, the towering Swiss throwing expert who started coaching Valerie Adams in 2011, once said to me, "but an act of love?"
Love and coaching are not words that automatically fit together, but if there's one lesson to be learned in 21st-century sport it's that old school, hard-nosed, "my-way-or-the-highway", dictatorial methods are as passe as bouffant hair, walk shorts with calf-high socks and powder-blue safari suits.
High Performance Sport New Zealand has taken the first steps to have a permanent complaints service, where sportspeople can, in confidence, report bullying, harassment, inappropriate behaviour and problems with wellbeing in general. A law firm specialising in employment issues will deal with calls until a permanent service is set up.
If it all sounds a bit "let's go to San Francisco, and wear some flowers in our hair" let's remember that even in the macho world of rugby, the landscape has changed.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen can now say, without a hint of embarrassment, that there are times when some players "need a cuddle". When Scott Robertson took over as Canterbury coach in 2013, his veteran halfback, Andy Ellis, would note approvingly that, "You feel it's a case of 'I'm me, I'm having fun, and it's going to be fun for you too if you join me on the journey.'"
It's a long way from the iron-fisted methods of the only unbeaten All Black coach, Fred Allen, who made damned sure no player, no matter how senior, felt he was immune from his wrath.
The great flanker of the 1960s, Kel Tremain, near the end of an exhausting All Black training run, swore at Allen. "We're going to do an extra three gut busters," said Allen, with a grim little smile, "because Tremain called me a bastard."
Much more recently the stunning Olympic successes of rowers Eric Murray and Hamish Bond was predicated on a coaching regime with Dick Tonks, that wasn't full of moments of fun, fellowship and warmth.
Several months after the Olympic gold medal won by Murray and Bond in the coxless pair in London in 2012, I spoke with Murray at a sportsperson of the year awards in Napier in May 2013.
In March a remarkable television feature had aired on TV3 in which the very strong impression was that the personal relationship the pair had with Tonks was basically toxic.
I asked Murray if what we'd seen was an accurate representation. "No, it wasn't really like that," he said. Then he laughed. "It was actually much worse."
Murray happily told me stories of slammed doors, shouted abuse, threats to quit and bad blood in general to illustrate how bad the relationship had become.
So how on Earth, if the coaching connection was so poisonous, did the pair achieve so much on the water? Murray said that out of 10 he'd give Tonks a zero for man management, and a 6 or 7 for coaching technique. But for fitness? "20 out of 10."
They had been worked so hard and had so much confidence in their fitness, Murray said he'd almost feel sorry for the other crews, who waited for the start knowing no matter what tactics they used the Kiwis would cover them and then crush them. They quite liked the Tonks' team talks too, which Murray swore usually amounted to a gruff, "You know what to do."
In a way, Tonks was continuing the brusque traditions of Kiwi coaching legends like rugby's Allen and Arthur Lydiard, who took Peter Snell and Murray Halberg to Olympic golds.
Lydiard once told me, with some relish, how he had banned a female athlete, who would go on to be world class, from his training group because he'd heard she was also speaking with another running coach.
"The most precious gift you can give someone in your life is your time," he said, "and I wasn't going to have her wasting my time by getting advice somewhere else".
To be fair to Lydiard he did offer extra dimensions. He radiated energy, and when he fixed you with his piercing eyes, the effect was almost hypnotic.
Lydiard played a largely unheralded role helping to inspire the stunning victory by Dick Tayler in the 10,000 metres at the Christchurch Commonwealth Games in 1974.
In the week before a race which has become an iconic part of New Zealand sporting history, Lydiard dug into the Tayler psyche, pumping up the confidence of a young man who had huge talent but for many years had never quite believed in himself.
Two nights before the Games opened, Lydiard and Tayler sat down and talked tactics for the 10,000 metres.
"Arthur said he thought jostling and barging would almost certainly break out in the first few laps," says Tayler.
"He thought the Kenyans would run all over the place, and get in each other's way. He told me to sit off the pace until I felt some order had been sorted out before making a move to peg back the leaders. 'Leave your run as late as possible.' Arthur said, 'even if it means waiting until the final straight.'"
I was ghostwriting a column for Peter Snell at the Games, and the day before the race he told me and reporting colleague Roy Williams of Tayler's plan, which Lydiard had also run past Snell.
On the afternoon of the 10,000 metres, Roy and I watched in astonishment as the event unfolded as if every competitor had been given a script by Lydiard, and was following it to the letter.
The only unexpected moment (for Tayler as well), was how, after he'd won gold, Tayler, the model of a reticent South Canterbury man, was so overcome with joy he flopped on the track, waved his arms in the air, delirious with joy, and elated beyond belief that "I'd bloody well won."
Like Lydiard, Fred Allen could read men too. Waka Nathan was forever amused by the way Allen would ferociously stir up other members of a great 1960s Auckland team, then turn to first-five Mac Herewini, who could suffer agonising pre-match nerves, and gently say, "I don't need to tell you what to do Mackie. You're a genius."
Coaches have always had to walk on a razor's edge. There's an element of truth in the old saying that there are only two kinds of coaches, those who are sacked, and those about to be sacked.
Results alone can be their downfall.
There wouldn't be a more well-liked man in New Zealand rugby than Colin Cooper, but the distressing lack of success for the Chiefs this year sees him under huge pressure.
What's a new twist is seeing coaches whose charges have been successful being fired because while their team, or individuals, may have won, the sportspeople involved found the process untenable.
The most bizarre case came in January, when New Zealand women's hockey coach Mark Hager resigned.
The Black Sticks had won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, but despite the success, an official report said half the players in the Black Sticks from 2016 to 2018 had "concerns about the environment".
Winning is usually a panacea for all ills in sport, but it wasn't enough to keep Hager's position secure.
Rugby hasn't always been a leader in social change, but it does seem that even in a sport where traditions don't easily die, there is a new approach to moulding a team, one where the path to victory is more generous-spirited to individuals.
During the week Beauden Barrett told me how much things had changed inside the All Blacks for new players since he arrived as a nervous, slightly intimidated rookie in 2012.
"We feel the best way to get the most out of the younger guys is to be a bit more welcoming, and let them express themselves a bit more."
Inclusiveness is a word with the cliched feel of a Parnell ad agency think tank.
The reality in 2019 is that coaches and teams who actually live by the idea are less likely to find rocks in the pathway to success.