Our philosophy has come about through considerable experience of coaching athletes – a total of over 40 years – a commitment to learning how to improve our coaching and delivery rather than just repeat the same things year after year. We try very hard to keep abreast of developments in the world of athletics and sport, and to incorporate changes into our coaching style and delivery.
Sadly, many established coaches and clubs are not so adept at keeping pace with modern thinking and are reluctant to develop their approach. It is interesting to note the
very clear message sent out by the IAAF (the international governing body of Athletics) in 2008. In its report it mentions that athletics is perceived as: “...difficult, boring, demanding, naff, old-fashioned…etc...” The report suggests that for many young athletes the approach is “…elitist athletics with early specialisation of children...”
Our approach takes into account current “best practice” so that the delivery, although physically and mentally challenging, is set at a level appropriate to the long term needs of the athletes.
Athletics is a late development sport, most European, World and Olympic titles are won by athletes who are aged between 22 and 28. However, children develop an enjoyment of athletics at a young age, some through involvement in Sportshall athletics, and others through their involvement in clubs.
Much is misunderstood about how to ensure young athletes have a successful start to their athletics career, it very much requires a long term view, since successful young athletes start to be taken seriously at about the age of 17. Many coaches push young athletes into programmes that are inappropriate and often remain ignorant of the long term physical and emotional damage they are doing. Combined events is very much about developing athleticism: the ability to run, jump and throw well from a foundation of excellent fundamental movement skills (balance, coordination
and agility). One of the dangers of pushing young athletes into specific events at a young age is that they learn a specific skill which often does not fit the body type they end up with after puberty. In addition, young athletes from a physiological point of view are works in progress. Many mini adult training programmes try to develop fitness and energy systems that are simply not available – yet – to the young athlete.
Although young athletes attempt the full events at a young age, the reality is that it takes years to acquire not only the level of conditioning required to perform a technique correctly, but also the actual mechanics and movement patterns of the event itself. This is another mistake that is often made with young athletes – expecting too much too soon. Success is often down to early growth maturation, which can hide an inability to perform the event properly.