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Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

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Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Geoff » Fri Dec 09, 2011 1:27 pm

Perhaps we should move away from individaul disagreements to a more general discussion on the state of athletics coaching in the UK in relation to structure, transfers, professionalism and the role of our governing bodies.

Firstly let me make it clear I am not anti UKA or Welsh Athletics or anti anything just for the sake of it. There are certain areas of coaching which I believe we have got wrong, areas we have probably always got wrong! There are general issues that affect coaching at all levels. There are coaching issues that are, in part, the making of organisations outside of athletics.

I also believe many experienced coaches within our sport, including those employed by UKA and the home nations, are not happy with the current situation. Most feel there should be a root and branch review of coaching from grassroots to elite level with the aim of developing a harmonious coaching structure suitable for our sport (as opposed to a generic approach for all sports).

Some of the main issues are:

1. The changing role of governing bodies from supporting coaches to employing coaches
2. Centralisation and the effect of reducing coaching expertise around the country
3. Direct and indirect transfer of athletes by governing bodies
4. A growing gap between local coaches of all levels and governing body coaches
5. An already shambollic and incomprehensible coaching structure at elite level

A few interesting observations. In Scotland where they are attempting to run an athletics coaches association they have recommended SAF must approach coaches first and not athletes regarding any potential move and ensure all possible support is given in the first instance to retaining the coach/athlete partnership. In Wales, UWIC based coaches (some employed by Welsh Athletics) have been told not to approach athletes to encourage them to move to Cardiff. England instruct all their coach mentors not to instigate any athlete transfer. So the home nations appear to be changing their attitude but UKA employ national coaches and apprentice coaches in some events at a few facilities where they expect the best athletes to be based. The result - a recipe for conflict!

We have some of our best athletes not being coached by UKA coaches but in many cases it becomes something of a battle. Some events have national coaches while some do not. We have events with a national coach and apprentice coach costing c£100,000 but our best athletes are being coached by others!

Rather than going into minute detail and being deliberately guilty of leaving lots of gaps in my synopsis of UK coaching I offer the following recommendations:

1. Govering bodies should support, coordinate and educate coaches
2. Governing bodies, either directly or indirectly, should not enforce or encourage athletes to transfer
3. We should review the way we deliver coaching through clubs, schools, universities, local authorities etc
4. Issues which have always been taboo such as poaching, paying coaches etc should be addressed
5. We should move towards establishing a national coaches association
6. The grassroots of our sport needs to change to a more professional approach and not just the elite (otherwise it exacerbates the us and them situation)

All the above need to be addressed if we want to re-establish a more harmonious and joined up coaching structure. We need to re-establish trust.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby readtherules » Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:33 pm

Geoff.

Great and intuitive post and good that you have taken it from the Morse case.

We are being driven by a UKS/Sport England agenda.We take the Queens shilling etc.May be OK for such as Netball or individual sports based on a central disapline eg Cycling, but not for our sport.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby AllanW » Sun Dec 11, 2011 3:08 pm

readtherules wrote:We are being driven by a UKS/Sport England agenda.We take the Queens shilling etc.May be OK for such as Netball or individual sports based on a central disapline eg Cycling, but not for our sport.


Can you tell us why this is, in your opinion, please? Not that I necessarily take the opposite view but I for one do not know why your statement/assertion is valid on the face of it without justification. Thanks. Just to be clear, you are saying that it is not OK for athletics to be driven by the agenda of the organisations (UKS/Sport England) providing the money. I look forward to any evidence you can bring to bear.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby AllanW » Sun Dec 11, 2011 3:21 pm

Geoff wrote:All the above need to be addressed if we want to re-establish a more harmonious and joined up coaching structure. We need to re-establish trust.


Very interesting post, Geoff, thanks. I'd like to pick up on your final comments there as they assume a number of things that I'd like you to make a little more clear, please, so that I understand more about the current state of affairs.

You seem to think that the current coaching structure is not as harmonious or joined up as it should be; can you explain why you think that, please? Can you explain in detail why you think it should be, please?

And I'm not clear about your last sentence there; between who do we need to re-establish trust? And how, when and why in your opinion has it been lost?

I realise it might seem like I'm just asking questions but I assure you that they are questions that spring to mind from people reading this list who have an interest in the subject but may not be as 'inside' as many of the small group of commenters here would have us think they are and if you and others want to bring about any change, you'll need to convince us interested bystanders of your case. So please consider providing a little illumination even though I know it might take a little of your time. Thanks again.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby readtherules » Sun Dec 11, 2011 8:51 pm

AllanW wrote:
readtherules wrote:We are being driven by a UKS/Sport England agenda.We take the Queens shilling etc.May be OK for such as Netball or individual sports based on a central disapline eg Cycling, but not for our sport.


Can you tell us why this is, in your opinion, please? Not that I necessarily take the opposite view but I for one do not know why your statement/assertion is valid on the face of it without justification. Thanks. Just to be clear, you are saying that it is not OK for athletics to be driven by the agenda of the organisations (UKS/Sport England) providing the money. I look forward to any evidence you can bring to bear.


There are a good few sports that are not at their limits,netball still is not and cycling was not.There are others that fit in somewhere.To get a be forced to improve by the fundmasters with a bit of a one fit solution was good.Cycling did a few tests in a few local schools as part of talent identification and quickly got some world class cyclists in a short time.Ditto rowing esp women.
Athletics is a truly world class sport needed a different approach.This does not mean that UKA are at the forefront and could be trusted to improve but a different approach is needed.We have CVC being told that his remit is only those with obvious podium potential.This leaves a void of very very gifted athletes who are off the agenda of the whole of UKA coaching.For field events with the long term maturity this is deadly.
Bit of a short answer but I hope it will do for now.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Geoff » Sun Dec 11, 2011 10:02 pm

AllanW wrote:
Geoff wrote:All the above need to be addressed if we want to re-establish a more harmonious and joined up coaching structure. We need to re-establish trust.


Very interesting post, Geoff, thanks. I'd like to pick up on your final comments there as they assume a number of things that I'd like you to make a little more clear, please, so that I understand more about the current state of affairs.

You seem to think that the current coaching structure is not as harmonious or joined up as it should be; can you explain why you think that, please? Can you explain in detail why you think it should be, please?

And I'm not clear about your last sentence there; between who do we need to re-establish trust? And how, when and why in your opinion has it been lost?

I realise it might seem like I'm just asking questions but I assure you that they are questions that spring to mind from people reading this list who have an interest in the subject but may not be as 'inside' as many of the small group of commenters here would have us think they are and if you and others want to bring about any change, you'll need to convince us interested bystanders of your case. So please consider providing a little illumination even though I know it might take a little of your time. Thanks again.


Allan, we cannot have a harmonious structure if it involves transferring athletes from one level of coaching to another without adequately recognising and rewarding all levels. We have athletes brought through to junior international level, often at the expense of the coach, and then for them to be passed on to a salaried UKA national or apprentice coach or home nations coach. Athletes retained into the senior ranks are then encouraged to move if good enough. This is because UKA are following a UK Sport programme of centralised facilities, support and coaching.

Because the programme and structure demands the transfer of athletes it will inevetably cause conflict and then trust in the system quickly erodes. I mentioned in my post that this has been recognised by Scotland and Wales who see the dangers to demotivating the good performance development coaches across the two countries. An extensive survey of welsh coaches and other grassroots personnel brought about a scathing report on many aspects of coaching and associated areas.

I have to say that most coaches get on well with each other but, as often is the case, the organisation presents the problems. Personally, I feel it was wrong for UKA to essentially try to be a professional set-up when they are responsible for the whole sport and the 99% who give their time free or as many do (like the late Bill Kingsbury according to his pen portrait on the Welsh Athletics website) pay out more than a thousand pounds per year on their coaching.

Our sport is different to many others and an over centralised system with assumed transfer of athletes is patently not right. My belief is we should encourage and develop coaches in all events across all regions and support them to take their athletes as far as they are able. A fresh approach utilising not just governing bodies funding but also local authorities and education support is needed.

I know a few UKA coaches and have no doubt about their expertise but, as I read somewhere else, there is an element of fear. With diminishing trust surely this can't last much longer and needs to be changed post London 2012.

There is so much more to discuss and I'm not convinced our governing bodies have a clear idea how to structure coaching. Their elite set-up is a mix of national coaches, coordinators and for at least one event no one apparently at the top. By all means have someone responsible for coordination, support and education in all events but not coaches who expect athletes to be passed on to them. This used to be a no-no and was was in fact included in my coaching pass until just a few years ago.

The consequence of such a system will be a steady reduction in good coaches across the country and fewer athletes brought through to international level.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby AllanW » Sun Dec 11, 2011 10:22 pm

readtherules wrote:Bit of a short answer but I hope it will do for now.


Many thanks for your response, most welcome. Forgive me for rephrasing; I’m not commenting upon your choice of grammar or syntax just putting my understanding of your points into language that makes it clearer for me.

1. Athletics on the whole is a mature, developed sport. The progress of each discipline within the country population as measured by records and consistent performances (with a couple of notable exceptions, those only widened relatively recently to include female participation for example) will only be shallowly incremental unless a ‘Black Swan’ event occurs. This fact requires an organisational structure for the sport that does not operate solely to identify realistic medal potential over a short timeframe.
2. In contrast to other sports which operate with a larger short term improvement potential realistically in their sights, an inflexible and monochrome organisational structure is not appropriate as it will fail to deliver the possible improvements other more flexible and diverse structures might.
3. Short termism in the current structure and goals, if that accusation is true, reveals a lack of understanding of what is required to achieve improvements in certain disciplines.

Have I understood your points? Briefly;

1. One-size-fits-all doesn’t work.
2. Use a bigger, wider net.
3. Can’t see further than the end of their noses.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby readtherules » Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:08 am

Allan W

What a sphisicated response.

By and large you have grasped my point.

What I was trying to suggest was that UKA exists in a staitjacket fabricated by "central office".Bit like the economies of the old commie blocs.I think the tax payer funding is about £20m for a four year period.Would UKA spend that money for the good of the sport and long term medal sustainability in the way is has to now if it had a free hand.I think not, but that does not mean I think UKA etc are bursting with creative ideas waiting to be unleashed.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Smiler6003 » Tue Dec 13, 2011 2:20 am

Dear Geoff and Colleagues,

Given recent events... It's really nice to read an article which is NOT personal!!! I was interested in coaching a long time ago, but decided against it because I could not see how I could coach and sustain myself... My impression was that coaching in Athletics relies heavily on volunteers... but it only works if those that do... have the time and have another job outside of the sport. There was a coaching structure once??? I remember being mentored by Ron Wild (Now living in Oz) for the jumps at the old Assistant Coaches level and I had fun... I also remember even asking (one of the National Sprints Coaches at the time!!!) way back then about how you could progress as a coach and I was told at that time that there were no openings???

This is not unique to athletics however... I asked the same thing about progressing in my current profession... and the answer remained the same!!! Loving this topic it is thought provoking... but do the powers that be have the courage to raise their heads above the parapet to actively engage with the grass roots and those at a higher level to promote structured, professional change??? Centralisation can only work if there is an openly transparent system with regard to coach/athlete development/funding and progression.

Thank you and goodnight :)
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby gruffalo » Tue Dec 13, 2011 5:37 pm

here seems to be an assumption that British coaching is (can be) good enough but it is a question of structure and funding ......umm

Lets face it when it comes to a number of events britain is way behind the rest of the world .... and has always been since the conception of the events. Heavy throws, Pole Vaults, women in the field in general and in recent years the ability of the sprint coaching/athletes has been called in to question. Shouldn't just be looking inside "little britain" but further afield. Any change/improvement in coaching has to look wider. "World Class UK Pole Vault Coach" is an oxymoron

Athletics is now a Professional sport and like all Professional sports you look to achieve by getting the best.

Restructuring or otherwise and plodding on with the same old "British is Best - we know what were doing" attitude towards coaching will get you nowhere.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Pete S » Wed Dec 14, 2011 1:59 am

With the greatest of respect Gruffalo, I don't believe that is a fair reflection on the quality of British coaches.

Just "being foreign" doesn't bestow greater coaching ability on an individual - I'm sure that is not what you meant?

Bruce Longden, Malcolm Arnold, John Anderson, Wilf Paish, all have produced athletes who consistently topped the world in performance. Darrell Bunn, Ian Grant and John Crotty have also been prodigious in their abilities although rarely as prominent as the first group, principally due to luck and timing.

The one concern I have is that the majority of the coaches listed above are not in their first flush of youth - one is sadly no longer with us - and the new generation are being fed a diet of sports science and mumbo jumbo somewhat different from that enjoyed by by the former group. This they eagerly consume without caring a jot that the standards are no better with this information and in some cases considerably worse - but that is another story..

It is also a mistake to compare coaches from, for example, the USA with coaches here in Britain. The US coaches are regularly inundated with talented athletes on scholarships to various universities - how can they fail to produce at least some athletes of note?

In the UK we first have to find our athletes, then persuade them that a life of grind and gruelling hard work in an inhospitable climate is an appropriate lifestyle choice for a young person - and then we have to track down suitable facilities for producing world class performances - good luck with that if you want to produce a pole vaulter! And yet even this week a young girl has returned home to Manchester, the proud owner of the new UK pole vault record.

Peter Sutcliffe took Nick Buckfield to 5.80 in the vault, John Hillier took Lawrence Okoye in the discus to a new UK record this year, Mike Morley has produced some fantastic young hammer throwers and Mike McFarlane continues to "do the business" with Jodie Williams and others.

No I cannot agree that we lack talented coaches - where I do think we have a problem is that we don't have enough of them and there is a distinct reluctance to learn from the past masters in favour of fast-talking coaches with intoxicating foreign accents.

The world's top coaches have got there by critical listening and focussed learning - these attributes are not issued on the basis of one's nationality.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby SteveK26 » Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:42 am

What this thread shouts loud and clear to me is that athletics was much more fun before it became professional.
Oh for the days of the 'Alf Tupper' athletes; we wouldn't be having this (rather depressing) debate before the money men came a calling.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby readtherules » Wed Dec 14, 2011 9:29 am

The quality and employment of foreign coaches has to be seen the context of UKA dancing to the tune of UKA's paymaster, UKS.
Policy dictate from "Central Office".
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Ursus » Wed Dec 14, 2011 2:53 pm

Pete S wrote:Peter Sutcliffe took Nick Buckfield to 5.80 in the vault, John Hillier took Lawrence Okoye in the discus to a new UK record this year, Mike Morley has produced some fantastic young hammer throwers and Mike McFarlane continues to "do the business" with Jodie Williams and others.


Not knocking any of those quoted, but none have produced anyone that has done anything exceptional on the world stage.

Buckfield was the closest with a 5th in the worlds, and perhaps could have gone higher if he'd stayed fit. Maybe just frailties in his body that no coach could have overcome? Overall though, our PV record at globals is dismal.

Hillier has done well with Lawrence, but the athlete has outstanding natural ability and is also very bright. As yet he's still v erratic, and John will really prove his mettle if he can convert him into a consistent 66 / 67m man with a 70+ pb. With those raw materials, that's the kind of standard he should be looking at.

The hammer is definitely on the up, but none of the current male crop have reached a champs yet, let alone made an impact at one. Shaw reached the occasional major, but was always miles off the medal pace - Hitchon is a beacon of hope.

And without picking on Mike, Briains sprinters have been over hyped & poor for years now. Again Williams has huge potential & tahnkfully seems to be being managed sensibly.

As I say, no disrespect to these coaches who all work hard and do a very good job, but there is a world of difference between domestic and world class performances.

Of course the measure of any coach is whether they are squeezing the absolute best out of their charges irrespective of natural ability, but whether the right talent is reaching those coaches is a whole new bag of worms!
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby sidelined » Wed Dec 14, 2011 5:21 pm

I can't help noticing that Pete S omits to point out the nationality of Holly Bleasdale's coach.

It seems to me that it's as limiting to insist that only British coaches with decades of experience know anything, as it is to think that the latest theory must be the best.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Pete S » Wed Dec 14, 2011 6:47 pm

Au contraire mon ami.....! And what a magnificent job he is doing ;-)
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby JimK » Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:18 pm

To get back on topic - what is the definition of coaching and what would a coaching structure look like? Answering some strategic questions like that ought to be the start of a process....
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby readtherules » Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:58 pm

JimK wrote:To get back on topic - what is the definition of coaching and what would a coaching structure look like? Answering some strategic questions like that ought to be the start of a process....


Not one where UKA coaching exists for the podium athletes and then there is no coaching for the rest of the athletes ;only education for their coach .This may not be too bad but coach education is more "getting more coaches" .
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Geoff » Wed Dec 14, 2011 8:57 pm

JimK wrote:To get back on topic - what is the definition of coaching and what would a coaching structure look like? Answering some strategic questions like that ought to be the start of a process....


Quite right. We have to develop a coaching strategy that is right for the whole sport and not just for a limited number at elite level.

Do we want a centralised and professional set-up at the top run by our governing body which in my opinion requires enforced transfers of athletes with the risk of lowering coaching expertise around the country? Or do we want a far wider structure with a slimmed down governing body supporting, coordinating and educating and so enabling coaches to escort their athletes as far as is possible?

Do we want a more professional set-up at local level? Would this attract more and better coaches? Should clubs employ coaches? Can we continue to rely on volunteers bringing athletes through to international level?

Whatever we eventually end up with it has to be joined up and harmonious. There has to be trust in the system to allow proper development of our sport. Radical changes probably have to be made but wouldn't it be nice if all coaches were consulted and involved in deciding the future direction of coaching in this country?

Finally, the current UKA structure baffles me with some events having national coaches and apprentice coaches but others do not. Some events are centralised but others are not. Some of our best athletes are not in HiPACs while many who are have made little progress. Surely all this has to be reviewed post 2012?
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby hank » Wed Dec 14, 2011 10:22 pm

There has always been poaching. I am sure most of us have seen athletes that they know are with the wrong coach and would be better off moving. The NGB have always recognised this, but for the sake of the system it was previously outlawed. Removing this rule from the coach licence has seen a number of coaches choose to ‘poach’ rather than ‘grow their own’ (not just the NGB).

At the same time the need for coaches to ‘poach’ from schools seems to be forgotten. Busy professional teachers want their athletes involved with local coaches, it saves them the job. But why should a coach do all the hard work just to have the athlete taken away just as they are starting to see the reward for their hard work.

The proposed rule change about taking away the 9 month ban for athletes changing club could also add to this disincentive. Clubs won’t see the benefit in engaging with schools if it does not help the clubs standings. The coach and the club get a kick in the teeth for being successful.

For me, strategically chosen clubs need funding, and these democratically run clubs distribute funds to coaches. Fund from bottom up rather than top down. I would coach David Greene for free, so would Malcolm Arnold.

We should also recognise that the basis of any sport system is competition. This is the part that excites the athletes and coaches. A system needs to provide a level playing field.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Kermit » Wed Dec 14, 2011 10:58 pm

There is a saying from the Lewis Carroll's books of Alice (in Wonderland) that is quite apt to all that is being discussed in this thread.

Begin at the beginning and end at the end

The beginning is a coaches association, the end is a coach's education programme.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby TheRealSub10 » Thu Dec 15, 2011 11:43 am

I remember talking to Mike Smith about how Roger Black used to train during the day while he was at work. This was because suddenly Roger had enough money to train full time (I can't remember if he was funded but i think he was). If athletes are full time they will inevitably end up training with coaches who can coach during the day. If you want to be one of those you either need to work nights, work for yourself and have flexible hours, be employed to coach or be retired. With more athletes going to University and having time to train during the day this is becoming more and more of an issue. I'm not sure how any coaching structure other than a professionalised club system can get around this for those who are not based at a University or HIPAC.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby TheRealSub10 » Thu Dec 15, 2011 11:44 am

Kermit wrote:There is a saying from the Lewis Carroll's books of Alice (in Wonderland) that is quite apt to all that is being discussed in this thread.

Begin at the beginning and end at the end

The beginning is a coaches association, the end is a coach's education programme.
Can you explain further. Sorry getting dense in my old age.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby gruffalo » Thu Dec 15, 2011 2:46 pm

Some might say on the law of averages a "non world class" coach will eventually have a successful athlete.

Don't confuse enthusiasm and hard work with world class.

This quote sums up a lot
"A coach may be defined as an egoistic person who associates with an athlete in an effort to enhance his/her own credibility"

It is too easy to try to suggest things such as the availability of talent (e.g. sprinters) against possiblity of success. There may be a smaller talent pool than say 30 years ago but that is too easy an excuse.

Having a smaller talent pool doesn't cause the coaching to be "inadequate". If the training/teaching of coaches was world class in the first place then when that rare thing "world class" talent comes along then the coaching would already be in place.

The problem is that if a highly talented athlete is identified is the coaching available to that athlete "World" Beating. Sadly I think not.

As somebody once said on here Christian Malcolm was a lot better athlete when he was being trained by a plumber.

What you should ask yourself is would any of Britains (British) top coaches get a look in anywhere else in the world. Probably not.

Germany has a long history of quality in the field - a production line of athletes in Javelin, Pole Vault, Discus, Shot, Hammer. Does anybody stop to think . ummm ... we're not very good at those (and never have been) maybe they know something about throwing/field. Maybe We (british) don't know what we're doing. Why don't we go and ask them.

The first step to improvement is recognising your mistakes, accepting your own inadequacies and doing something positive about it.

Just ask yourself a simple question

Would any British Sprint Coach be considered good enough for Caribbean or USA
Would any British Throws coach be considered good enough for Germany
Would any British Pole Vault coach be considered good enough for Germany, Russia, Australia, France

Got an answer??

Then ask yourself the same question the other way round. Would any of their countries coaches be considered good enough for Britain.

Like any thing in life if you want to be the best you learn from the best. That goes for coaches and athletes. Coaches who accept thier inadequacies and are willing to embrace the knowledge of other coaches in their field WHEREEVER THEY COME FROM can only be a benefit to the overall coaching in the UK passing on that specialist knowledge. Those coaches who turn their noses up and snub such opportunities in the mistaken belief that they are the "best" are the cause of the problem. Whilst that attitude exists the development of talented athletes will be stifled.

Experience is the ability to recognise a mistake when you make it again.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby bevone » Thu Dec 15, 2011 3:21 pm

An interesting thread this as some are trying to find answers to the problem. The point Pete made about the coaches he chose outside Wilf were quite well summed up.

To answer gruffallo. It is har to compare the forme eastern block which had sports school and according ot Stasi files haev admitted to doping on industrial levels. That is hard to compete with, as is the US system where each year you recruit some of the best talent if you are at a to school and have some good raw materials to work with. I think many UK coaches would adapt well. John Trower is a world renown coach and coached world record holders in the javelin event, alsothis year we had the top 3 nations in men's discus in depth. We also haev other proven coaches like Malcolm Arnodl Pete Stanley etc. The challenge is to develop younger ones.

Alos the other issue about coaches in this country is that far too many cannot get on and reading what Mike winch has to say about me only shows his own ignorance about thigns he knows nothing about.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Kermit » Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:05 pm

gruffalo wrote:Like any thing in life if you want to be the best you learn from the best. That goes for coaches and athletes. Coaches who accept thier inadequacies and are willing to embrace the knowledge of other coaches in their field WHEREEVER THEY COME FROM can only be a benefit to the overall coaching in the UK passing on that specialist knowledge. Those coaches who turn their noses up and snub such opportunities in the mistaken belief that they are the "best" are the cause of the problem. Whilst that attitude exists the development of talented athletes will be stifled.

Experience is the ability to recognise a mistake when you make it again.


A point well made Gruffalo.

Real, in order for the Athletics Coaches Education Programme to gain traction and standing it needs a National Athletics Coaches Association to be formed and have officers appointed. The education programme could be a stand alone entity but it would then be susceptible to an attack and ultimate takeover by UK Sport.

Because a National Athletics Coaches Association had control of the Athletics Coaches Education Programme it could gain recognition both national and international leading to a variety of funding opportunities.

What may not be known by many of you (including those who ridicule Personal Trainers/Strength & Conditioning Coaches) is this. Over 15 years ago The Exercise Association (ExA) lost it's funding from the newly formed UK Sport (who had replaced The Sports Council) just after the National Register of Personal Trainers (RePS) started. When ExA went into liqudation UK Sport went after the prized asset - RePS. ExA recognised all coaches not just Personal Trainers and RePS was set up for ALL coaches of ALL sports as a way for the public to see where their nearest qualified coaches were.

Sadly RePS has stalled since UK Sport gained control of it and staffing is an issue, but I still believe that if you are a qualified athletics coach then you should be able to apply for a RePS certificate and be placed on the register for ALL to see (if you so choose). It is quite possible that UKA do not have a clue about RePS and what it stands for but had they known about it when they formed life for coaches could be a lot easier.

Why did I mention RePS? If ExA had backing from more larger organisations it would never of lost it's prize asset and we may not be having this conversation!

Begin at the beginning - a National Athletics Coaches Association and end at the end - a National Athletics Coaching Education Programme.
Kermit
 
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby javman » Thu Dec 15, 2011 7:43 pm

Gruffalo,

Just answer a part of your question, we have 2 recognised world class coaches for javelin. John Trower and Mike McNeill. Both have looked after and produced / help to produce elite javelin throwers. Why are they not currently central to the javelin education system?

However, the point by Bev is crucial in that we have to focus on the younger coaches, that is key for the future. But in that we have to identify the coaching potential in those young coaches and develop it. Without this we will have to rely on external expertise. We need to use the experience of our older coaches to help nurture that younger talent. Current coaches need to stop whining and moaning about the system, athletes they have lost and lack of support, but instead focus on how they can improve in order to help the athletes they coach.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby hank » Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:05 pm

It is not all about 'wolrd class'. We need a system that recognises that being an outstanding club coach is of the most value. Remit - unearting talented atheletes, developing them, and retaining them.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby JimK » Fri Dec 16, 2011 12:43 am

Wikipedia gives the following definition of a coach.....

"In sports, a coach or manager is an individual involved in the direction, instruction and training of the operations of a sports team or of individual sportspeople. This type of coach gets involved in all the aspects of the sport, including physical and mental player development. Sports coaches train their athletes to become better at the physical components of the game. The coach is assumed to know more about the sport, and have more previous experience and knowledge. The coach’s job is to transfer as much of this knowledge and experience to the players to develop the most skilled athletes"

This needs refining to apply to athletics. But it then starts to raise questions about a vision for coaching and a coaching structure. This is a good thread but there is confusion about what is coaching, what is the vision of how that can be delivered and individual solutions for what may not generally be agreed as a problem.....
JimK
 
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Geoff » Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:03 pm

It seems to me there is a major rift occurring when athletes reach the age of 18. They are identified and encouraged to go to one of a handful of universities, often where our governing bodies employ coaches or have a HiPAC nearby. Immediately you have a situation where mainly voluntary coaches pass on athletes to professional coaches with very little in return.

At the lower end there are a number of local authorities and educational facilities who employ coaches to introduce youngsters to the sport and quite often take them a little further. They are then handed over to the voluntary coach who thus becomes the filling in a professional coaching sandwich!

Clubs provide the bulk of coaches at grassroots level where we appear to be drawing in fewer former athletes and PE specialists and relying on well meaning parents with the time and inclination to give their time free of charge and in many cases pay out of their own pockets. Many clubs are happy to take on anyone who volunteers. We have big gaps in coaching in all technical events and at development level few actually coach run, jump, throw.

On another board there are statistics confirming that numbers of athletes of all ages are declining by around 5% in the past 4 years. Quality and depth of performances in many events are also reducing. The senior ranks have become decimated compared to 10 or 20 years ago. The number of active coaches has also dropped considerably.

Success is being measued in terms of medals won at major championships rather than the health of the sport as a whole. Millions are being pumped into a small elite drawn from a dwindling number of athletes in order to secure medals. Is it time to look at coaching from grassroots to elite and create one harmonious and joined up structure that adequately encourages coaches at all levels?

Few seniors are coached within the club set-up. Clubs are charged with developing thousands of youngsters on a voluntary basis but unlike most sports it is expected they will reach national and international standard and provide a steady stream of talented post-18 athletes for universities/governing bodies. Some may argue that the grassroots coach is performing the more difficults role and, of course, with little recognition and reward. The dedicated, motivated and knowlegeable local coach of the past used to be able to take athletes through to the Olympic podium but now this major incentive for some has been pretty much removed.

The big danger with what we have at the moment is less coaches resulting in less athletes and poorer quality.
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