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Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby observer » Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:31 pm

I also agree with trickstat that reversing the situation would be the challenge, but I feel that the instinct to start thinking in terms of one club/coach will and others wont illustrates the problem itself. If all coaches were paid a basic hourly rate via the clubs, raised via session subs and as Hank says additional sponsorship/funding then we could dispense with territorial thinking.

I haven't thought through the logistics as it would need some serious work beyond my meagre intellect, but I stand by the notion that sorting out some kind of pay for the training on a national basis would give a platform for reform and the only real way to empower a governing body to impose structure. Once that's in place you can start delivering a progressive way to assess & stream athletes within the clubs or even between clubs where appropriate for the athlete's development, possibly without the seed club losing 'ownership'

With regards to putting less well off athletes by increasing the subs I understand the point and think it would be a bit of a jolt for current athletes, but I doubt the fallout would be too damaging as long as the benefits were outlined properly and of course ongoing it would just be the norm.

Let's face it, I cant imagine there are many parents or athletes who havent scratched their heads wondering why the coaching is not more expensive anyway.

Tennis lessons - £25ph, football training £5ph, athletics..... £3 for 1.5hrs training seems an absolute bargain in my opinion.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby hank » Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:59 pm

Observer, as you say, Tennis is professional throughout the structure - but look how successful they are!

The most talented athletes/sportpeople do not play tennis because the cost makes it inaccessible. I have an issue with my clubs pricing policy because the most talented of my group are not well off and can’t pay the £1.50 training fee. On the other hand rugby can’t do enough to get them to play for them. We could end up like tennis – professional but s@*T.

Park football may charge £5, but Pro football clubs don’t. They only get financial benefit from the young players they support when they sell one who has signed a pro contract. Is rewarding the club that nurtured the athlete on the performance programme not the way to help professionalise coaching?

This puts clubs central to the coaching structure. Currently many of our best coaches are operating outside the club structure, and answer to no one.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby usedtoit33 » Fri Dec 30, 2011 11:21 pm

I think that's what puts a lot of people off charging. If people are paying then they expect a 'professional' (i.e. competent) service, but would expect coaches to be licensed by the NGB, trained and also accountable. I believe the licensing and insurance system is in place.

I think Observer's point of certain coaches being, well, a bit zealous against being told what to do is very true. I think the main reason for friction between UKA and those coaches has been the "sod this, we're getting people in that we can work with", which is very often implied. But if you're paying someone to do a job, you want them to do that job. If someone's not willing to do it then why employ them?

Charging is the way to go, IMHO, but it requires quite a big culture change, which is never easy. It does affect poor income families, but discounts along the lines that leisure centres charge (given that most club athletics takes place in largely LA owned facilities) can be made and maybe 'trust funds' could be set up for gifted athletes. I think if parents see that the coaching is good, and the kids are enjoying it and doing well (for their abilities) then a club should benefit from all of this.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Pete S » Fri Dec 30, 2011 11:50 pm

I think that the point about paying hitherto voluntary coaches has been well made - I do however see a problem that needs to be addressed...

How does paying for coaching improve the quality of that which is done?

The likelihood of an awful lot of the coaching that I see ever helping athletes towards a reasonable standard of performance, in some way commensurate with their innate ability is extremely low - paying people to deliver the same sessions will not improve things. The number of coaches of any quality is so low as to be critical in some areas - what do we do about that? You can't just "grow" new coaches of any quality overnight.

Also I ask you to imagine if the current crop of stupid and naive ideas (A365/Elevating Athletics) was imposed upon a body of coaches. Would you be happy to be told how and what to coach? I wouldn't.

Some time ago I believe I opined that an individual who commanded the respect of all coaches could pull all the various strands together and we could start doing some good things in coaching - I still don't know who that person could could be but I'm sure that amongst our population he or she could be found. They would have to be pretty rare/special but then again, so are prime ministers...
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby observer » Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:40 am

How does paying for coaching improve the quality of that which is done?

The likelihood of an awful lot of the coaching that I see ever helping athletes towards a reasonable standard of performance, in some way commensurate with their innate ability is extremely low - paying people to deliver the same sessions will not improve things.


There comes the accountability - once there is pay involved coaches will be more accountable to the club and athletes and less able coaching would dissapear over time. I think it was mentioned earlier, but if pay was available coaching would attract higher quality candidates and remove the hobbyist/parent element and clubs could monitor quality of coaching. There could be a different 'inexperienced' track for 'trainee' coaches which involved a period of non/low-paid apprenticeship under the wing of an experienced coach.

@Usedtoit33 - great idea about subsidising less well off athletes with LA subsidies/grants etc

@Hank - I knew the professional dimension would be raised for tennis and you are right, but in terms of football I think the average training subs of non-professional sunday kids teams is around £5 with annual membership at £100 (my sons fees). I do struggle with this on top of everything else, but dont see it as unreasonable and usedtoit addresses that issue well anyway.

Park football may charge £5, but Pro football clubs don’t.
Park football is the best comparison anyway in terms of general , so pro football analogy is kind of irrelevant. When athletes get to the level of a pro footballer (career stage international upwards I guess) their club would probably not expect them to pay the £3 entrance fee.

I do agree that having coaching methods dictated to the letter would be unworkable though, so that would need some serious thought.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Pete S » Sat Dec 31, 2011 11:13 am

I fully agree with the general thrust of this discussion, it's heartening to read some of the posts.

Observer - I believe that you have made some excellent points.

I would however make the following observations:

Clubs have, for decades, proven themselves entirely useless at implementing coaching schemes/strategies of any quality. Whilst there may be one or two exceptions around the country, clubs have mostly been good at maintaining the status quo, hardly ever questioning the effectiveness of what they do - as long as they have full XC teams and can fill up all the places at a NJL meeting then they seem delighted with what they do. To expect such organisations to become arbiters of good coaching, overnight, is surely unrealistic.

Additionally, money or no money, where are the coaches going to come from? School PE teachers may provide some of the manpower I suppose but they're generally knackered after a day at school and very very few have demonstrated the necessary passion to work in our sport in any case.

Professional coaching does, I believe, offer a significant way forward but we must burst free from the "club night" structure and it's ethos if we are to make progress. Individual training groups, separate from clubs, have long been the best way to make significant progress - the work ethic, the enhanced focus, all contribute to an improvement on the traditional club structure.

So...breakaway groups, specialising in certain events, with a paid lead coach and some assistants/apprentices?
Most importantly though, a culture of competitive activity where athletes EXPECT to progress and improve.

Observer (& others) I applaud the thinking on this thread - keep it coming!
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby BigGut » Sat Dec 31, 2011 11:59 am

I can see trouble with many of these suggestions. Not from the NGB but from theveuro obstructive idiots that are already stirring as much trouble as possible.

There was a suggestion of being able to get a student to run a session, and another of young coaches coming in. If this happens then you will have the idiots at ABAC up in arms and causing as much trouble as possible. They already detest development officers being paid and unless you are paying the Level 4s to carry on doing exactly what they want to they will scream and scream and try to cause divide in the sport as a result.

If you have specialised breakaway groups then you will get these same coaches screaming blue murder about poaching. Afterall where there are currently full time coaches and excellent facilities, ie Loughborough, anybody going there is claimed to have been forced to do so.

If you have clubs charging, then you will get clubs that don't and a mass move of athletes to these clubs. This is essentially what has happened already to many clubs like my own. Where a club supports coaches by covering expenses and runs expensive junior activity to develope the sport then jogging/running clubs will start up to compete and provide none of these services and thus be able to provide cheaper membership which damages the original club. Do this with coaching and unless you FORCE every club to charge, which you cannot do, then none will because they are essentially owned by the very people who are now going to have to pay the charges. Which club AGM is going to vote to add £150 a year to fees to pay people who already volunteer? And which club is going to make themselves 6 times as expensive as their neighbour?

The only way to change the status quo is for non club based coahes to start charging unilaterally based upon the fact they supply a superior service. If they don't then nobody will use them, if they do then they will be able to get paid. In addition I entirely support the idea of national level paid coaches who then provide the service free at the point of use for top level athletes, if they want it.

I do not believe that in a sport that is played by individuals at clubs which are individual where anyone can choose to become a coach without a post being vacant you can ever actually implement a national structure for payment, it's fantasy.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby fangio » Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:06 pm

Clubs don't pay a regular weekly fee to most coaches. A lot of clubs do not receive teh weekly training fee that some do, as they are not using their own tracks and the athletes pay the council for the use of the track, so there simply is nto the cash to do it. So the resut is that the athletes have to pay more if the coaches want to be paid.

To me, it is simple. If the coach wants paying, they should ask the athletes to pay them. If the athlete won't pay stop coaching them if getting paid is more important to you than the sense of achievement etc you get from coaching. A local coach left our club to swtart his own training group on alternative nights. He had youngsters training with him who did not compete in any events, and they paid him a weekly fee for his coaching. As they had no competition I think the parents were basically paying for 4 hours a week of babysitting by the coach. His coaching was certainly no better than when he was with the club, but the parents of those athletes saw value in what he was doing (even if it was not the value of his coaching) and paid. He wanted paying he got paid.

The ciaches who stayed at my club did not want paying, and do it for other reasons (eg they like it, they want to put something back in, they are parents).

On the parent thing, I am sure Peter Coe is nto the only example of a parent that got involved. My own coach was an athtel who started coaching when his kid was club aged. He went on to coach an Olympian and other GB internationals. We have several coaches who are parents of ex-athletes, who continued coaching even when their kids gave up. I don't think getting into coaching because of your kids precludes you becoming an extremely good coach.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby sidelined » Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:14 pm

So, if the problems of trying to impose a streamlined structure on disparate groups of volunteers, and bringing about profound culture change, and healing the divisions in the sport are so intractable, then we come back to the question of how to improve those sessions at grassroots level that Pete S has observed are so poor. How about event-specific coaching roadshows conducted by groups of experienced coaches who invite coaches from all clubs in a particular area to attend coaching days that aren't lectures and powerpoint presentations but model sessions using local athletes? The idea would be to make it as easy as possible for coaches to take part, and then ideally to follow it up with mentoring. Of course there is all manner of material on the internet but to sift through it and synthesise it and decide which are the best bits if you are new to coaching is a massive task (I imagine, since I am not a coach).

Perhaps event-specific groups like the BMC and Hammer Circle are the way to go, which create their own informal mentoring structures. (I'm sure this has been said before.)
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby BigGut » Sat Dec 31, 2011 6:13 pm

Sidelined,

Isnt that already happening. I can think of a few events it has happened for around here.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Geoff » Sat Dec 31, 2011 8:02 pm

Some very good posts that highlight some of the difficulties of structuring coaching in this country!

I will now raise the question of what is an athletics club for? A question I have asked many times but rarely got an answer beyond the usual provision of competition, coaching and a social side. So let's look at clubs in a coaching sense. I think it was Tom McNab in a recent article who said something to the effect that clubs do not exist to be part of the development process of athletics. I interprate this as meaning that clubs do what a small group of administrators want to do and generally within their own comfort zone without necessarily going out of their way to stretch resources and raise standards to the highest possible level. So, according to Tom McNab clubs are a questionable route to developing athletics in a fully structured and harmonious way.

A few observations on clubs and coaching. Firstly, most clubs are running only clubs or predominately running only clubs and have little interest in coaching children. Most senior athletes are not coached by the club they belong to. Most clubs do not have adequate numbers of coaches to cater for a full range of events from under 11's to under 19's. I deliberately chose that age range because that is what most track & field clubs cater for, albeit, with diminishing numbers of athletes the older they get. So most clubs do not deliver coaching across most events to progressing ability levels.

At senior level and increasingly with talented younger athletes the club does not provide coaching. I know of few sports where the club expects an athlete to compete for them but offers no coaching or contributes to the cost of coaching. I suppose it is athletes and coaches in this category where most conflict arises. Most coaches of national and international level athletes do not tie themselves to a single club.

The very nature of clubs with a diverse range of disciplines and committees composed of people with very different interests makes performance coaching in particular somewhat difficult. Much better to form a pole vault association or hammer academy where everyone is pretty much on the same wavelength and share the same aspirations. Many coaches leave clubs for this reason although there are some downsides to leaving a club set-up. It was suggested earlier and by many others in the past that perhaps this might be the best way forward for older athletes but that could mean from under 17 upwards.

Many local authorities and educational institutions provide coaching for beginners, mainly under 11. This leaves the club to cater for the more serious athlete but the way things are clubs may predominately provide coaching to the 11-15 age group. And this is where we are with many clubs - a core of under 13 and under 15 athletes with a few under 17's and one or two older. Clubs are increasingly being squeezed into looking after this early teens age group and unable to break out to more ambitious targets in terms of older athletes, range of events and raising of performances. Something has to change otherwise we will spiral down to even fewer clubs, athletes and coaches.

So what is a club for and should it be expected to provide all coaching at local level?

Finally, just think what one motivated and adequately supported coach can achieve. I bet if you put an Alan Bertram type coach in any small town you would get dozens of hammer throwers or a Trevor Fox and you would see lots of pole vaulters . I would also argue there are sufficient people in most towns with a background in most athletics events who could be brought into coaching if they were approached and offered appropriate support but somehow we rarely ask and certainly don't offer enough to compensate for all the time and expense they will invariably incur.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby rembradt » Sat Dec 31, 2011 11:54 pm

So enjoyed the truths behind Gruffalo's post of December 15th.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Pete S » Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:56 am

Sidelined/Geoff - for the most part athletics clubs (or more accurately the coaches within them) have proven themselves utterly unwilling to learn or operate outside of their comfort zone. You can put on any number of roadshows/coaching workshops/whatever and the minute the show is over, all the lessons are forgotten.

If I was to roll into town announcing that the last 100 athletes I had worked with had all won ESAA medals by following the methods I had developed and would any coaches like to learn the methods and perhaps use them for 12 months to see if the same effect could be reproduced with another group of athletes the response would be - no thanks, we're happy with how we do things round here... I kid you not, that is exactly what would happen and has happened on more than one occasion.

Any success has always been down to individual coaches, with passion, intelligence and commitment, with facilities provided perhaps by a club or a local authority.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Kermit » Sun Jan 01, 2012 3:04 pm

From a S&C side of things I can agree with Pete S. Most of the Personal Trainers where I work think that my methods cannot produce results on the sports field and yet my sporting clients consistantly out perform theirs.

From reading all the posts since my last it appears that there needs to be big attitude changes made not only by the coaches, but the clubs as well. The question is, who will make the changes first, the coaches or the clubs? One of them need too.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby hank » Sun Jan 01, 2012 6:59 pm

Most school PE teachers see the local club as somewhere where they can direct talented pupils to. Most do not have the local knowledge of specific coaches in the club, just that the club provides training and competition across most of the events, and that they are child safe (a big issues nowadays).

I am not sure that we will be finding coaches in the yellow pages, or the UKA website. I am not sure that this is better than what we have got. The club is the collective of like minded people working for the same cause. By another name, it is the local athletics association – and surely part of any coaching structure.

As Geoff says, one coach can have such a massive effect on standards. The effect of Mick Woods at AFD for example. If more clubs had someone as productive then athlete numbers and standards would be fine. Mick could operate as an independent, but I doubt that he would be as successful.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby TheRealSub10 » Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:57 am

observer wrote:When athletes get to the level of a pro footballer (career stage international upwards I guess) their club would probably not expect them to pay the £3 entrance fee.
That's because the value of those players to the club is not through their fees but through their talent. Football generates revenue which pays for the teams. If people turned up to watch Athletics matches then Athletes would be assets. At the moment all but the Jennis's of this world are not assets but sponges who require support from us to continue to do the sport they are good at. When athletes start generating revenue then they will be in a stronger position.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby hank » Mon Jan 02, 2012 12:25 pm

TheRealSub10 wrote:
observer wrote:When athletes get to the level of a pro footballer (career stage international upwards I guess) their club would probably not expect them to pay the £3 entrance fee.
That's because the value of those players to the club is not through their fees but through their talent. Football generates revenue which pays for the teams. If people turned up to watch Athletics matches then Athletes would be assets. At the moment all but the Jennis's of this world are not assets but sponges who require support from us to continue to do the sport they are good at. When athletes start generating revenue then they will be in a stronger position.


The point I was previously making is that you lose 'assets' to other sports (but less of a factor with girls sports).

It is interesting that in football there are strict regulations regarding poaching. The only reason someone is poached is because they are an asset to someone. At the top there is an awful lot of money in our sport, but no mechanism to distribute it to those involved in the production of these ‘assets’.

We have loads of coaches lurking around (not attached to clubs) looking to coach 'assets', but very few interested in helping potential 'assets'

Professionalization does not solve this problem. Personal trainers poach off of other personal trainers for example, so regulation of the system is still needed.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby TheRealSub10 » Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:56 pm

hank wrote: At the top there is an awful lot of money in our sport, but no mechanism to distribute it to those involved in the production of these ‘assets’.
That is probably the key issue in all this. How do you pay back these people? Of course one philosophy is that you can't so instead you have to 'pay it forward'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pay_it_forward
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby hank » Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:37 pm

TheRealSub10 wrote:
hank wrote: At the top there is an awful lot of money in our sport, but no mechanism to distribute it to those involved in the production of these ‘assets’.
That is probably the key issue in all this. How do you pay back these people? Of course one philosophy is that you can't so instead you have to 'pay it forward'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pay_it_forward


This is appropriate. It is worth observing that some of today's voluntary coaches were coached by voluntary coaches themselves, so in a way are paying back their debt to the sport in kind. You obviously do develop skills in coaching and this may have been renumerated in professional life any how.

If the time has come to change, then it is a pay forward mechanism. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that a professional system should be backdated.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Geoff » Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:56 am

Baroness Campbell: Olympic legacy for youth sport needs proper funding

....Campbell said that for the new initiative to succeed there needed to be a fundamental overhaul in the way sports clubs were organised and a determined move to professionalise coaching.

"If you're going to drive change in terms of young people's participation beyond the school gates there are only two things. It's clubs and it's coaches. The way we've designed clubs in the past has not necessarily helped us forge the right kind of links," she said.

"In Europe, clubs are physical places where the kids can go along after school and mum can swim and dad can go in the weights room. We don't have that. We need to redefine what we mean by the notion of a community club."

"The other massive thing for me is this whole business of professionalising coaching. It seems amazing to me that we still think somehow this coaching network should be voluntary. Of course, there are millions of volunteers who do a fantastic job but if you really want to create that connectivity, you've got to professionalise coaching.

"That whole area, professionalising that workforce and creating new and very different club environments – they are huge step changes. That's got to be funded and by Sport England and delivered collaboratively with the governing bodies. It's a big, big, big challenge that we've never really addressed."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/ja ... outh-sport
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby gruffalo » Mon Jan 09, 2012 11:07 am

People have seemingly become obsessed with club structure, overall administration, professional coaches, NGBs, Admistration (local and National) as being somehow the root of the problems.

Who coaches the coaches who coaches the coaches who coach the athletes. Has anybody actually stopped to think that maybe a Level 4 coaching badge and the level of training/Instruction that a prospective coach has to go through to attain that merit is fatally flawed in itself.

It really doesn't matter about structure etc if at the end of the day if the highest level of coaching achievement in the country is in itself "less than optimal". Not saying it is - not saying it isn't but there is not a one-size fits all.

As regards Geoffs post above re : Olympic legacy

"In Europe, clubs are physical places where the kids can go along after school and mum can swim and dad can go in the weights room. We don't have that. We need to redefine what we mean by the notion of a community club."

I no longer live in the UK (since many years) and currently reside in Munich. My local club (one of many in the city) offers Athletics - along with boxing, Basketball, Handball, football, karate and .... and .............. and ............

Should also add that many professional football teams in Germany also have their own Sports sub-departments encompassing many sports.

Sharing facilities may on one hand seem a pain but on the other hand these facilites can be a lot larger (with larger membership) offering more indoor as well as outdoor facilities.

It would be interesting to know whether such an idea is "abhorrent" to the die hard T&F who would see this infringing on their independance and having to share facilities being detrimental to the sport and development.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Geoff » Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:05 pm

One of the main reasons for starting this thread was because there is little opportunity for coaches to discuss issues relating to coaching athletics in this country. Our governing body provides both formal and informal coach education (some may question its effectiveness) but never do we try to tackle the likes of profesionalism, athlete transfer, structure, how coaching is delivered, role of organisations in coaching and much more.

There is merit in discussing/debating all relevant aspects of coaching and where possible arriving at a concensus. The sporting landscape is not flat and we have to accept influences from government, education and other sports but surely we cannot stay as we are. Change, though, is always difficult but our sport must at least take small steps towards a modern, professional and effective coaching system that identifies and develops athletics talent across all disciplines and all areas of the UK.

Surely, the first step is for our governing body is to TRUST coaches and involve them in making decisions affecting coaching?
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Eddie » Mon Jan 09, 2012 10:13 pm

Geoff wrote:Surely, the first step is for our governing body is to TRUST coaches and involve them in making decisions affecting coaching?


I'd go along with that. First step in that first step for me would be to construct a detailed questionnaire on all areas of coaching - training, delivery, athlete transfers etc - and get as many coaches as possible to complete it. Time would have to be taken to construct and trial the questionnaire before it is sent out. I'd certainly be willing to be part of any trial of such a questionnaire. It would give all coaches the opportunity to provide information and opinion. It would give all coaches a voice.

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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Exile » Tue Jan 10, 2012 1:42 pm

Just on the topic of clubs and their purpose: I am not a member of an ABAC cluband I have no real interest in engaging with their agenda. However, look at clubs like Birchfield, Shaftesbury and Sale (as far as I am aware, none of these are ABAC members), to name three. While it is true to say that the senior teams at all three of these clubs contain athletes who began in the sport elsewhere and have been "recruited"/"poached"/"welcomed from elsewhere", it is also true to say that they have in the past and continue to largely develop youngsters across a range of track and field disciplines. At all three clubs there are excellent coaches working within the club to develop young athletes. I am sure there are other clubs who do similar work.

Rather than look at the many clubs that don't do much and tar them all with the same brush, why not look at the ones that are successful (not in terms of trophies, but in developing youngsters to ES standard across a range of events) and use them as exemplars? I am fairly certain that if every town/city had a Birchfield or Sale (i.e. people dedicated to improving the sport within a club environment), then we wouldn't be in as much of a mess as we are now as a sport.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby paps83 » Tue Jan 10, 2012 4:02 pm

Whilst I think that there is certainly a great deal of room for inprovement at a national level, from speaking to coaches at various clubs accross the country I think that clubs themselves don't do enough to support their coaches. I know that's not the case everywhere but I know of a lot of coaches who are consistently producing good results with their athletes who endure far too much stress and expend far too much energy battling with club committees.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby hank » Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:16 pm

Exile wrote:Just on the topic of clubs and their purpose: I am not a member of an ABAC cluband I have no real interest in engaging with their agenda. However, look at clubs like Birchfield, Shaftesbury and Sale (as far as I am aware, none of these are ABAC members), to name three. While it is true to say that the senior teams at all three of these clubs contain athletes who began in the sport elsewhere and have been "recruited"/"poached"/"welcomed from elsewhere", it is also true to say that they have in the past and continue to largely develop youngsters across a range of track and field disciplines. At all three clubs there are excellent coaches working within the club to develop young athletes. I am sure there are other clubs who do similar work.

Rather than look at the many clubs that don't do much and tar them all with the same brush, why not look at the ones that are successful (not in terms of trophies, but in developing youngsters to ES standard across a range of events) and use them as exemplars? I am fairly certain that if every town/city had a Birchfield or Sale (i.e. people dedicated to improving the sport within a club environment), then we wouldn't be in as much of a mess as we are now as a sport.


I could not agree more. When nurtured and supported, this system still works. Why reinvent the wheel?
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby fangio » Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:29 pm

Not sure who Birchfield developed and brought through since the 90's, can you tell me?
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Pete S » Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:36 pm

I think I see what you're getting at Fangio..a couple of names come to mind though; Denise Lewis ?Kelly Sotherton? Wasn't Daniel Caines a Birchfield "product"?

Of course the point is that these athletes and others like them, were brought "up to standard" by individual coaches, Darrell Bunn in the case of Denise and Kelly unless I am mistaken? And although these coaches may be members of clubs and use some of their facilities, the whole club ethos is an almost complete antithesis to performance at a high level. The whole psychology of clubs is about preserving a nice comfy little group of people, who will do the same things they've always done using the same people and their same methods. If the methods work then that is great, but most often they do not and another generation of kids who have been propelled up to a senior group from a junior programme (even if such an elaborate structure exists at a club) will fall by the wayside and out of the sport, because the available coaching is not of sufficient calibre to get the best out of the kids.

I believe that the clubs need to have a look at themselves and examine what they do best and what they can do better.
They are well placed to provide junior programmes, Tuesday and Thursday nights, each filled with 90 minutes of PURPOSEFUL activity - being taught basic technical models followed by ample opportunities to COMPETE - both within club nights and in proper leagues/competitions.

The clubs are also well placed to provide Sportshall type activity for the younger age groups.

After that, the quality of work required to propel kids up into ESAA teams and finals is simply not widely available and I believe performance squads, meeting 2 or 3 times a week, under the direction of an experienced, knowledgeable coach with a proven track record is the way forward.

Coaches of the required calibre to run such groups are very very thin on the ground, but they are there and need a little bit of "special treatment" which basically amounts to minimising the amount of BS they're exposed to - clubs are very poor at this.

Wilf Paish established just such a squad in Leeds following his formal retirement in 1996 - no governing body asked/invited him to do it, he just responded to the request of parents who knew their kids needed better help than was available in clubs. That group produced ESAA medallists like it was a production line and a fair few Internationals as well in a wide range of events. Never was a model of good practice more evident. I shan't bore you with how the NGB failed to understand what was going on here...

This thread has wandered and meandered a little over the months it has been in existence and many of us have contributed our thoughts over that time, but the origin of the original question was rooted in a belief that we could, as a sport, be doing a lot better than we are. This is undoubtably true, people like Wilf and others, who have shown the way, have been ignored, isolated and in some cases, ridiculed.

Their methods gave been swept aside in favour of concepts that clearly don't work.


Concepts dreamt up by kids with no experience and older coaches who should know better, have been given prominence far exceeding their credibility.

Far away from personality clashes and technical differences of opinion, it is the lack of credibility that will eventually undermine trust in any coaching set-up. I believe that any murmurings of discontent are fuelled by this credibility gap and it is this which needs to be addressed before we can hope to move forward.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby BigGut » Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:44 pm

Dan Caines was Royal Sutton Coldfield and Denise Lewis was Wolverhampton and Bilston. Kelly Sotherton moved to Birmingham in her mid 20s to train with Denise Lewis, from the isle of wight.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Geoff » Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:45 pm

As soon as I read the post from Exile I though we would get a response from BigGut! I do, though, have some sympathy for the smaller clubs who continually see the best athletes leave with this becoming more prevalent with younger athletes than it used to be.

There are no easy solutions. The small club has to try and improve coaching, recruitment, retention, competition etc. Many people in the past have suggested a transfer fee paid by the larger club to the smaller club.

May I suggest that the problem your club has over athletes transferring is similar to athletes transferring from one coach to another. It may be in the athlete's best interest but it can sometimes be quite disheartening for both club and coach who have given several years to develoing the athlete in the first place. It's even worse when they are poached (I use that term deliberately to make a point but realise it can be more complex).

This is another area of conflict that needs to be addressed but I still firmly belive the simple, but not exclusive answer, is to provide more support to coaches throughout the country in order to recruit, retain and motivate coaches to recruit, retain and motivate athletes to increase numbers and improve quality.

Clubs are my preferred route to providing the bulk of coaching but they are not the only route. Most clubs need to change quite radically otherwise they will become creches coached for by a reducing number of volunteers providing just a basic introduction to athletics. Most will give up and some will move on.

Our governing bodies have to encourage ambition and motivate clubs to want to do better. This in turn will lead to more support for coaches and others but all have to be part of a fair and equitable structure.
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