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Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby bevone » Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:10 pm

I think one or two are doing Birchfeld a disservice by asking what have they done etc. Denise trained at Birchfield with her coach and achieved what she did as a birchfield harrier. It is true though that Birchfield imported a great number of midlands athletes - from clubs who do great work with their U17/U20 but then do not have senior teams so the nearest club logically is Birchfield. When i competed from them - I moved from Belgrave who were the number 1 club in the UK to Birchfield as I moved to live in Birmingham and as I was using their facilities I approached them.

What has not been reported abotu birrchfield is that they continually produce nationalleague final teams iin all ages and win some age groups and also have plenty of international representation at all levels so they are doing something right. They have ahd a steady management dtucture and their gras roots is very much one a few families putting thier heart and soul into the club surrounded by stalwards who continually produce athltes to a high standaed or have themselves been national coaches or international athletes themselves. darrell Bunn, Kevin reeves, Tony Hadley are a fewe coaches who come to mind who have coahed there for years and produced and still produce goos standard athletes.

However, the need for good competition has forced many top athletes from smaller clubs to joi the elite clubs for 3-4 gaurenteed good competitions as rocking up to a southern men div 3 and jogging the 100m is no use to anyone. These dyas, throwers pick clubs who are short in their event so they are guarenteed top competition. The national league for years has featured the top throwers in most matches so it is like a AAA final four times a year - which may be what some need - good competition to bring it out of them and athletes should not apologise for wanting to show some ambition. What club you then join is then to avoid yo-yo clubs, ie ones who keep going up and down divisions, thus, Birchfield, Woodfood and Newham seem to be the most popular choice in the men's and some clubs even pay some athletes.

I think rather than criticising Birchfield and bigger clubs like them, i think they should be recognised for some of the good work they do and also the good they do in their community.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby BigGut » Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:24 pm

Bev,

All I did was point out that the three athletes named as being produced by Birchfield came from 3 other clubs. I do take issue with the statement that these clubs do not have senior teams. They do, but they are in the regional leagues in most instances. And they will remain in the regional leagues so long poaching is rife. If it is so simple to produce a homegrown team develope of national league standard, which is what you are basically saying they need to do, then why the hell do these clubs NEED to poach so many athletes from local clubs. if there coaching is so good then why haven't they produced their own Dan Caines, Kelly Sotherton or Denise Lewis from scratch?

I am not singling out Birchfield, it's just the easiest example for me because I am from the Midlands and I know more about the athletes here than I do about the other regions.

I guess my issue remains that the National League should be scrapped so that people don't need to move to access higher competition. People shouldn't have to move clubs in order to gain access to that tier of competition. This would mean that people didn't need to leave their clubs but could still compete at the higher level. If the big clubs are so much better at producing athletes then they would still have a majority of those competing at this level. However I believe that there would be more athletes from the smaller clubs than there are now. That can only be good for developing these smaller clubs and therefor spreading the reach of the sport into more communities.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby hank » Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:54 pm

MLF, Nathan Morgan are Birchfield home grown I think.

Kelly Sotherton is listed on Pof10 as having competed for Birchfield as an U17, as is Denise Lewis.

But regardless of this, surely the set up at Alexander stadium is capable of supporting athletes from 'playground to podium'. What is wrong in a system where clubs like Tamworth feed into this at a senior level?
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby BigGut » Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:06 pm

PO10 is not accurate in terms of historic clubs.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby trickstat » Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:15 pm

hank wrote:MLF, Nathan Morgan are Birchfield home grown I think.

Kelly Sotherton is listed on Pof10 as having competed for Birchfield as an U17, as is Denise Lewis.

But regardless of this, surely the set up at Alexander stadium is capable of supporting athletes from 'playground to podium'. What is wrong in a system where clubs like Tamworth feed into this at a senior level?



MLF has been Birchfield since he was under 13. Nathan Morgan was originally at Leicester.

Pof10 has to be taken with a large pinch of salt when it come to details like athletes' clubs that pre-date the site's existence (about 6 years ago?). I can clearly remember Kelly Sotherton competing for Hampshire and Portsmouth and Denise Lewis for Wolverhampton & Bilston. I have checked the relevant British Athletics Annuals and both are listed under their pre-Birchfield clubs as top year U17s.

I am not aware that there is such an actual "system" by which athletes "graduate" to these larger clubs its just something that happens quite a lot. In mitigation, I don't think it is always the case that athletes are actively "poached" by the bigger clubs, as I think sometimes the athlete, their coach or ambitious (pushy?) parent approaches the big club themselves.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby BigGut » Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:22 pm

Hank,

I guess my point is that Tamworth are capable of supporting from playground to podium as are the other smaller clubs. This especially true in the UKA age where financial and coaching support is available regardless of club. The big clubs can only provide higher level competition because of their rampant poaching. Without BAL there is no need for poaching, in terms of clubs. The big clubs can continue to develope athletes and the smaller clubs can continue to do so without the league providing more motivation for them to move.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby hank » Fri Jan 13, 2012 12:14 am

I do agree.

The original gist of my comments is that clubs can be central to coaching and development. At some point the best athletes need to compete against each other and actually this is what the national league creates in the top division as Bev explains.

If clubs compete locally / regionally then either a county/ city based competition tier is needed to ensure a pathway. This would ensure that athletes do not have to move club for competition purposes alone, which is good.

However, the current club system does attract sponsors/funding and this factor should not be ignored. I am not sure a county or region or city has ever endeared a benefactor.

I am not sure it is realistic that all clubs are aiming to provide 'playground to podium athletics'. We only need 20 or so institutions as described, with the satalite clubs/schools/LA programmes feeding the system. I suggest that most athletes and coaches would not have an issue with this model at a senior/performance level.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby fangio » Fri Jan 13, 2012 12:44 am

There seems to be an assumption that the coaching athte smaller clubs is somehowo worse. many have much smaller catchments, yet produce athletes who stay in the sport long enough to become seniors that move to the larger clubs. Not seemingly the case when some athletes don't change coach, don't train at their new club etc.

As far as top competition goes, yes it is the case that a few events are high standards, but quite a few are not. With the availability of so many championships, GP's BMC and other event specific meetings I do not see that the BAL is needed to provide opportunities. I can see that the 20 big clubs would like it if they could get more sponsorship and get teh atheltes to compete for them, but what does it do for the rest fo the sport? Well it marginalises the other clubs, who woudl never be able to move up, and are told to feed their athletes to anothe club if they get them to a high standard. Don't see a need for 20 clubs getting special treatment, especially as it seems that a few of them seemingly cannot develop athletes to teh standards of those they can bring in and retain.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby BigGut » Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:38 am

Hank,

My problem with the 20 clubs plan is that it is unnecessary. Are you telling me that Aldershot cannot produce top athletes because they are a Southern League Club, How about Milton Keynes? The sport is an individual sport, you don't need to be at a "top club" to run fast or throw far. Many of the athletes that compete for these "top clubs" do not live or terrain anywhere near the club they compete for, so it isn't the case that they are necessarily "centres". Most top coaches don't just coach athletes from single club, so again you don't need to be at a specific club to progress.

The second point is that the current situation damages smaller community based clubs. Kids follow success. If you have top athletes at a club then it is beneficial in terms of recruitment and retention. If the top athletes are at a small number of clubs then the sport will appeal to a smaller geographic area than if they are spread across the actual clubs that they were developed by. I believe this has had an impact on the number of youngsters in the sport already and if the 20 clubs idea came in would be exacerbated.

To my mind club athletics has to realise that it's place is in the lower tiers of the structure. Clubs need to provide the introduction, initial and community based activity. They need to make sure that anybody who wants to try this sport has the opportunity to do so in a safe and social environment with help at hand to get them to be the best they can. Competition at the higher end needs to be for individuals, preferably wearing the vest of their club, but not where your vest excludes you from it. Coaching needs to be an amalgam of both, where clubs provide coaching and athletes are welcome to stay with their club coach right through their career, but where there are also coaches operating both inside and outside of the NGB who are available to coach the elite. In my scenario the club coaches do it to make their club work. They may be paid they may not. The elite coaches are either paid by the NGB because they are actually employed by the NGB and do as the NGB wants them to, or are independents and choose if they wish to charge the athletes that they coach.

It's just my idea on how it should work, but I think it would provide a more inclusive and structured sport and I think it meets the needs of the coaches and the athletes whilst giving the clubs the best opportunity to thrive and provide the largest number of people possible with a shot at reaching the elite level.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Geoff » Fri Jan 13, 2012 4:15 pm

I have said repeatedly we need as seamless a structure as possible for competition, coaching and clubs/schools/facilities etc. All three elements also have to be joined up and be as seamless as possible. Every one interacts and affects the other but are often treated individually with our sport administrators only looking after their own box and failing to see the bigger picture. This thread has raised all three areas and brought up a range of issues that, ideally, need resolving if we are to make real progress in developing our sport.

I asked a question a couple of weeks ago. What is the role of clubs? This is fundamental and to some seems obvious but I maintain it is not clear and must be resolved in order to ever achieve a suitable development structure. The recent posts above highlight some of the mixed views. How can coaching ever be structured and progressive without clarity on the role clubs play in this most important area of our sport?

The majority of clubs cater for a young and younger athlete relying on the good will of parents to maintain a regular turnover of coaches. Do these clubs have ambition to compete at the highest possible senior level? Many do not and seem content to drift along with the annual influx of youngsters at Easter and take a far from full team to YAL meetings and similar. Very few say we haven't got a pole vault coach or hammer coach or the like and then actively seek to recruit one. Few actually try very hard to recruit coaches and most support their coaches very poorly. If a young athlete wants to vault or throw they are left to find an independent coaching group but the club rarely supports the athlete or the coach.

Most clubs have little ambition and in some cases drain away the ambition of coaches. Hence, we have a few hundred independent coaches coaching athletes from different clubs and operating in a more focussed way but often with minimal support.

What is the role of a club? Is providing quality coaching for all events, age groups and ability one of their roles? It needs to be addressed before a modern development structure for our sport can even be considered.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby hank » Fri Jan 13, 2012 5:53 pm

BigGuts

I do agree with your perspective.

To clarify I am not suggesting that smaller clubs lose athletes as first claim members, just that they qualify for a competition for a big club in higher level competition. If they are good enough to get selected then great, if they miss out then they have regional competition to focus on. National leagues and SAL do not clash, so they can support both.

I would see it as an evolution of the higher claim system. We currently lose athletes because national league clubs can only use a limited number of athletes. They end up leaving to ensure they are selected. They do not want to, but the current regulations have seen us lose 2 athletes in recent years who could well be at London. Both still train at the club. We have lost others to other local clubs with national league teams.

If higher claim was deregulated then they would be able to compete for the national league club on 3-4 occasions, and remain our members.

Due to our infield restrictions we cannot effectively develop heavy throws, and the indoor centres attract the pole vaulters and similar events. This means we struggle to develop a team to progress into the national leagues. We win the track, but get smashed in the field. This is the common reality across the country. We need to feed into a composite club, to provide our elite members the competition and experience they deserve. If we don’t we deserve to lose them to other clubs, other sports, and general drop out.

All this has very little to do with coaching however.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby sidelined » Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:00 pm

Would more event-specific competition in field events prevent the drain of athletes from small clubs to large? Jumps and Throws Fest only happens once a season. Couldn't it take place several times, as often as the big BMC meets, and on the same day?
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby hank » Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:00 pm

sidelined wrote:Would more event-specific competition in field events prevent the drain of athletes from small clubs to large? Jumps and Throws Fest only happens once a season. Couldn't it take place several times, as often as the big BMC meets, and on the same day?


I think there is demand for more of these things. I don't think we will just have demand for open graded competition though. Athletes compete individually yes, but they usually prepare as a team.

Some of the things we are discussing are hindered by the NGB structure. EA for example are in effect a national club association. They affiliate clubs, who then affiliate athletes (one of the functions of a club that Geoff refers to perhaps).

Getting schools, colleges and LA involved is problematic as they are not actually part of this political system. I am not sure counties are part of this system either.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Pete S » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:15 pm

With the greatest of respect to many of the posters and in acknowledgement of Hank's last comment, this thread is drifting further and further away from the subject. There is a lot of interaction between the various aspects of our sport, naturally, but given that the subject here is coaching then we should try to stick to that.

The initial title here "Lack of Trust in UK Coaching" is I think, becoming a bit vague as the discussion develops. Do I trust UKA to deliver Philips Idowu, Jessica Ennis et al to the start line in London ready to compete well - yes absolutely - it's not a difficult task to be frank.

Do I trust more than a handful of coaches in the UK to consistently produce World Class m/d runners/jumpers/throwers? No I do not. Is this acceptable? Maybe it is? Maybe it's the best we can reasonably hope for?

Do I trust more than a two dozen or so coaches/teachers in the UK to deliver educational and stimulating athletics sessions to younger people that will promote competition and spark their interest in athletic competition? No I do not - especially if they swallow the principles embodied in A365..as a lot seem readily willing so to do... Is this acceptable? Again, is it the best we can hope for?

When you see, as I have, young people, often with only a modicum of talent, propelled upward to ESAA medals on minimal training where others of similar calibre fail even to aspire to County teams, you see the massive difference that good coaching can make and you despair that it is not more readily available.

It was recognised a very long time ago (and latterly by the NGB) that coaches were the key to developing athletic performance - along with the stimulus of good competition - and it is coaching which must be supported with credible development programmes and good quality mentoring.

So the question is not necessarily "Do you Trust UK Coaching?", it is "Do you trust UK plans for improving coaching?"

..and that is an individual question that others may like to have a stab at..?
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Geoff » Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:12 pm

I agree that we may have drifted slightly off topic but the way and by whom we deliver coaching is important. There are only a limited number of ways - through clubs, education, facilities, governing bodies or possibly through coaches directly. Agreeing who is responsible for what and joining everything up is crucial.

I deliberately included the word TRUST in the title of this thread. As can be seen some clubs don't trust some other clubs. Some coaches don't trust some other coaches. Some coaches don't trust our governing bodies. And so on....! There is no agreed structure let alone standardised and quality controled coaching delivery.

I want to see clubs at the centre of coaching at local level but I feel it's essential to join up with sub-regional, regional and national coaching where appropriate. To do this this effectively and ensure a continued harmonious relationship requires trust. Clubs will need to change and become a little more professional and the gaps between elite and performance development have to be reduced.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby bevone » Sat Jan 14, 2012 5:06 pm

This thread has visited a few issues. It should be noted that changing club does not necessarily mean changing coaches, coaches are human so there are some who will not work together. A big problem is the lack of respect shown by some coaches towards others .

This goes across man events where some coaches egos are far more important than anything else.

Incidentally, I watched a programme today where the belgian sprint team went trecking across a glasier in Iceland (the country not the store!). I cannot see what benefit this has apart from risk injury and do inappropriate training - maybe this is why belgians sprinters are not a force to be reckoned with and not ones to loose sleep over.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby 2dodgy » Mon Jan 16, 2012 12:11 pm

Bev,

Of the "not a force to be reckoned with" Belgian Sprinters who took part in the Glacier trip, were Kevin and Jonathan Borlee.
Kevin took the bronze in the final of the 400 metres at the World Championships in Daegu last year, whilst twin brother Jonathan finished fifth. They then formed half of the 4x400 relay squad that finished 5th, two places ahead of the GB relay team.

Maybe there's method in the frozen madness!
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby bevone » Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:59 pm

yes i was aware - and that the onyl two good runners are twin 400m runners, and the coach they interivewes shared their name 0 i.e. perhaps he is their national coach because his sons have run reasonable quick - but that does not make begium a sprinting nation as they have few if any other decent athletes in the sprint events - and again maybe thier lack of experience as coaches at this level has taken them on this treck which again i can not see the point for. If i was to look for ideas or innovation for the sprints, i would look at what the US and caribean nations do as that is where the talent seems to be and i am not sure any have trecked as part of their training. It doesnt take frostbite and trench foot to galvanise or motivate or team build per se - and i would thing the disadvatages would out weigh the advantages in this case. However good luckt o them and I look forward to uka employing Belgian coaches post 2012 and the south pole trip orgamised for the reems of lottery funded sprinters next winter!!!
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby fangio » Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:26 pm

Geoff

With regard to "Do I trust more than a handful of coaches in the UK to consistently produce World Class m/d runners/jumpers/throwers? No I do not. Is this acceptable? Maybe it is? Maybe it's the best we can reasonably hope for?"

I don't think we have ever had more than a handful of coaches who CONSISTENTLY PRODUCED(and by produced I don't mean polished off the final couple of rough edges from a very good senior athlete) world class athletes. Genuinely I can't think of any, if anyone knows a coach who took U13's on to world class on a consistent basis please share their name.

To me it wuld be a failure of the system if that were to happen, as World Class athletes should be able to emerge from any corner of our country and end up being coached in whatever way they decide is best for them, whether that be sticking with their original coach, moving to a more established senior coach, or moving to a Hipac to get ful time coaching when they train full time. The ideal system to me cannot be a set pathway with defined steps thqat athletes follow, it needs to have scope to allow for whatever arrangement athletes feel best support them.

As for 365, the local school has a successful after school athletics club, with over 150 kids twice a week, the scheme that paid outside coaches to come in has been stopped, so they will be gettign teachers to volunteer to help out. They will be using Athletics 365, as they do not have any coaching experience, but can use the activities contained within it to sit next to the work done by the PE staff at the club. it will enable other staff to develop the skills required by the kids. It has a place. The problem to me comes form people thinking it is the toolkit itself, rather than additional tool.

If you read AW from teh 60's 70''s and 80's you can see that older coaches have always moaned bout changes, always moaned baou the NGB and any education system. I actually think a previous poster had it right though, th ebiggest ga in trust is between the coaches themselves. The older ones think anyone not doing it the same way as 30 years ago are incompetent, adn the younger ones think the older ones are stuck int ehir ways, add the seeming proprietorial nature of some coaches thinking about their athletes and you get an atmosphere of misrust that has nothing at all to do with what is best for the athlete.
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Re: Lack of Trust in UK Coaching?

Postby Geoff » Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:02 pm

fangio wrote:Geoff

With regard to "Do I trust more than a handful of coaches in the UK to consistently produce World Class m/d runners/jumpers/throwers? No I do not. Is this acceptable? Maybe it is? Maybe it's the best we can reasonably hope for?"

I don't think we have ever had more than a handful of coaches who CONSISTENTLY PRODUCED(and by produced I don't mean polished off the final couple of rough edges from a very good senior athlete) world class athletes. Genuinely I can't think of any, if anyone knows a coach who took U13's on to world class on a consistent basis please share their name.

To me it wuld be a failure of the system if that were to happen, as World Class athletes should be able to emerge from any corner of our country and end up being coached in whatever way they decide is best for them, whether that be sticking with their original coach, moving to a more established senior coach, or moving to a Hipac to get ful time coaching when they train full time. The ideal system to me cannot be a set pathway with defined steps thqat athletes follow, it needs to have scope to allow for whatever arrangement athletes feel best support them.

As for 365, the local school has a successful after school athletics club, with over 150 kids twice a week, the scheme that paid outside coaches to come in has been stopped, so they will be gettign teachers to volunteer to help out. They will be using Athletics 365, as they do not have any coaching experience, but can use the activities contained within it to sit next to the work done by the PE staff at the club. it will enable other staff to develop the skills required by the kids. It has a place. The problem to me comes form people thinking it is the toolkit itself, rather than additional tool.

If you read AW from teh 60's 70''s and 80's you can see that older coaches have always moaned bout changes, always moaned baou the NGB and any education system. I actually think a previous poster had it right though, th ebiggest ga in trust is between the coaches themselves. The older ones think anyone not doing it the same way as 30 years ago are incompetent, adn the younger ones think the older ones are stuck int ehir ways, add the seeming proprietorial nature of some coaches thinking about their athletes and you get an atmosphere of misrust that has nothing at all to do with what is best for the athlete.


Fangio, not sure you're addressing the right person here. Try PeteS.

I do think you make very sweeping generalisations about older coaches. One of the main issues is how to create an effective transfer system (this has to happen to some extent) that benefits both athlete and coach. Conflict exists within clubs, at junior level and at elite level.
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