British Athletics Head of Field and Combined Events, Peter Stanley, headlined the conference reflecting on his own journey in coaching before leading 3 of our Youth Academy jumpers through a once in a lifetime triple jump session under his watchful eye. Stanley, who coached Jonathan Edwards to the World Triple Jump Record in Gothenburg in 1995, explained the stages of coach development relating them to his own experience. Peter, who will retire after Tokyo, gave credit to significant mentors who supported him and challenged coaches in Northern Ireland to think about their next steps.
Dr Steve Ingham, author of the best-selling ‘How to Support a Champion: The Art of Applying Science to the Elite Athlete’, discussed how high performance teams operate to achieve success and encouraged coaches to be curious enough to consider that the smallest change to their programme could make the biggest difference to performance. Steve has been an instrumental member of the performance teams supporting some of Great Britain’s greatest athletes such as Jessica Ennis-Hill and used examples from his work with Jessica and her Coach Toni Minichello to bring to life his performance philosophy. A recurring theme from both keynote speakers was the need to embrace the resourcefulness of others as we work together toward common goals.
Jackie Newton, Laura Kerr and Tom Reynolds reviewed the highlights from the year, giving credit to 13 Northern Ireland Record breaking coach-athlete pairs (Senior & U20) and to the coaches of the 43 athletes who were selected for a major championship. They explained what lies in store for 2020 & 2021 describing new investment for the Athletics NI Academies and the Marathon Potential 2024 programme. Laura said “During 2020 & 2021 the Youth Academies at Jordanstown and Coleraine will benefit from integrated physiotherapy; new Erasmus+ funding for warm weather training camps and additional support from Amy Foster, the new Pathways Coach and Administrator for Athletics NI. A new collaboration will also allow us to work on a curriculum focused on training the ‘Psychological Skills for Developing Excellence.’ This will sit alongside the current physical preparation and performance behaviours curriculum.”
Director of Coaching & Athlete Development, Jackie Newton explained “The Marathon Potential 2024 Programme will aim to deliver 2 Olympic Standard marathon runners from NI for Paris 2024 and beyond. We want to continue to support coaches in Northern Ireland and provide them with access to the best available knowledge and expertise as they continue to play a vital role in developing athletes to represent our country.”
Breakout sessions from Welsh athletics’ Ryan Spencer-Jones, West London Track & Field Club’s Laura Turner-Alleyne and Colin Griffin from the Dublin Sports Surgery Clinic allowed coaches to immerse themselves in conversations around event specific technical and physical preparation.
Ryan, who has coached Aled Davies to multiple World Para Shot Put titles, focused on drills for developing the glide. Three U18 Athletes from NI & Ulster showed clear progress in their execution of these drills and we look forward to their bids to qualify for the European U18 Championships this summer in Reiti. It was fantastic to see over 20 people engaged with the shot session and we hope to see more coaches developing basic glide techniques amongst up and coming multi-eventers as well as throwers.
Olympian Laura Turner-Alleyne, who leads the speed development group at West London Track & Field Club, explained her weekly approach to developing student athletes. Laura explained the weekly structure she uses to maximize time with the athletes on the track and in the gym. In an ideal 4 day training week Laura delivers 1 acceleration, 1 maximum velocity, 1 speed endurance and 1 sprinters tempo session. On the track Laura discussed non negotiable elements of posture and foot strike before explaining her interventions for some of the common errors at this level. We are grateful to the 4 Youth Academy athletes who provided the demonstrations to bring this session to life for coaches.
Irish Olympian Colin Griffin is based at the Sports Surgery Clinic Dublin as a Running and Strength & Conditioning Coach. Colin, who is completing his PHD on running injuries and rehab, discussed the need to develop reactive strength qualities for endurance running with specific focus on conditioning the calf and Achilles. We look forward to continuing to support endurance coaches with further workshops on physical preparation and strength and conditioning.
Athletics NI will provide delegates with video links to the presentations on YouTube and will also be sharing the speakers slides very soon.
We hope all our delegates will help us review the conference and prepare for future coach development opportunities by completing a quick survey. Thank you to all 5 of our speakers, all of the delegates and the 10 young athletes who demonstrated on the day.