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Out with the dunces and in with the proven coaches !!??

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Out with the dunces and in with the proven coaches !!??

Postby MikeWinch » Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:53 am

Having watched our athletics team, with increasing concern even despite my well known scepticism about the 'Collins' regime, it is clear even now, that compared with other sports we are failing to achieve. It must be clear even to the most pro-NGB person that the current regime has produced nothing for the millions spent.

The athletes cannot be blamed, as clearly they have all been very upset at below par performances, and even the occasional success has been the exception rather than the rule.

Surely now, we must have a clean sweep of the performance department and a new positive, reward based and sport knowledgeable team put in place to try to repair the damage of the last few years. We need a full team of coaches, who actually have a coaching record, to lead, with the support teams being put to the back as being of only marginal relevence. We must get back to actual athletics events not generic management of those who are already there. We must move our youngsters on, not by showering them with support, but making them work for any reward and not exploding with praise when they win a 'kids' championship.

The failure has been predicted from the beginning of this setup, and the warnings ignored. Perhaps now we can ditch the experiment and return to the roots of success; good coaching, passionate athletes and a complete reward structure for performance right through all the events.

It is obvious that athletes have to be at worst, part-time workers to enable them to reach the World stage, but so do the coaches to enable them to direct that process. Only people who understand the process can direct the resources to maximum effect.

We only have four years. Three have already been wasted.
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Postby Javelin Sam » Sun Aug 17, 2008 2:52 pm

mike i would gladly put my hat into the circle to be part of any revolution but would people be able to look past my age and see the potential?
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Postby bevone » Sun Aug 17, 2008 4:05 pm

The problem is that we can all snipe at failed performances such as our sprinters (apart from Kwache) and the likes of Saunders but I think you will find that the same coach got her to win the world indoors, and win silver at last year's world outdoors. I am not sure that many of our failing sprinters are necessarily failing but the athletes are not good enough at present against the world's best.

Our heavy throws have been poor for some time and again our female discus thrower failed to progress to the final which was well within her capacity so should we sack her coach as well?

My point is what specifically can we do as it appears our best coaches seem to be coaching our best athletes and when that doesn't work someone else has a go. Kelly Sotherton came 5th with a near PB and she has a host of coaches and is full time. What else can be done for her - or Craig Pickering - or the host of athletes who train at Brunel
and Lee VAlley. MAduaka gave up her job and went to the US to be coached by someone over there and that hasn't worked either - but at least she tried something different.

I think if Mike's idea by changing everything, I think you would still end up employing mostly the same coaches as the one's who have proved themselves seem to be employed by UKA anyway - or end up employing a host of foreign coaches.

The likes of BAckley, Black, Edwards, Gunnel, Thompson, Christie, JAckson, Whitbread, Sanderson, Regis, Smith Etc etc came through to world class with the same coaches. Maybe we just don't have the athletes!

The only way to demonstrate what UKA is doing is to produce a host of world class athletes outside the system - or maybe start with one. We have the facilities now so why are we not as good as we were - it has to be that we do not have the basic raw materials at present in much depth.
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Postby usedtoit33 » Sun Aug 17, 2008 4:07 pm

Who's qualified to take over? Frank Dick? Charles Van Commenee? Dr Ekkart Arbeit? (I'm joking on that last one!). We're going to have to look abroad, because we just don't have the right expertise here.

It's funny though. You've been heavily criticising the way UKA have been trying to get all the best athletes training under (who they think) are the best coaches at the High Performance Centres. Something you ABAC lot have been resisting heavily whinging and moaning about poaching. Funnily enough, it's exactly that system that's paid off handsomely at this Olympics with swimming, cycling, rowing and gymnastics, the only sports that can be relevantly compared to athletics.
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Postby MikeWinch » Sun Aug 17, 2008 6:01 pm

Clearly UT you haven't a clue.

The reasons why sports such as swimming, cycling, rowing and sailing have been succesful are two-fold.

One, their funding suits their sport because they have basically one set of skills which encompasses every event and the one-stop-funding plan in being designed to minimise the number of professional caches involved is not a stumbling block.

Two, their performance directors are from the sport.

Despite your silly statements, I think it is clear to most people that the sytem has brought no benefits despite he huge capital outlay. We can do no worse by sweeping away the current crew. You never no, the sport come behind someone who doesn't slag of the coaches and traet the athletes like children.

Bevone, two issues in your response. We do not have great facilities. We have some reasonable facilities and those mainly where there are few athletes, particularly in the South.

Secondly we do not have all the best athletes with the best coaches, we have the funded athletes wth the coaches UKA has seen fit to put them with, which is very different.
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Postby Thornhill » Sun Aug 17, 2008 6:02 pm

Have to agree with usedtoit33 and the well made comments about cycling and swimming. There is a need for more full-time coaching but it has to be based at specific places, these maybe the existing HiPacs.

Then athletes if they wish to be funded or really want to pursue excellence then they have to move.

What is poaching anyway? moving to where an athlete thinks the grass is greener, usually.! It's only ever coaches that complain (usually about a bruised ego) never the athlete or parents, and in truth it is thier decision to make.

You may bash Dave Collins but at least he tried to achieve this Max Jones never did and that is where the decline started.

Athletics has moved on from Frank Dicks day and the coaching awards were not up to it and coaching standards are not good in Britain. But this is a whole different topic, along with others we don't want to tackle like competition structure, age groups, implements and height of hurdles.

Face it were British, were not happy unless were moaning. :wink:
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Postby TheRealSub10 » Sun Aug 17, 2008 6:04 pm

bevone wrote:The only way to demonstrate what UKA is doing is to produce a host of world class athletes outside the system - or maybe start with one. We have the facilities now so why are we not as good as we were - it has to be that we do not have the basic raw materials at present in much depth.
Good points.

We're going to have to look abroad, because we just don't have the right expertise here.
Already tried that an no one wants to come onboard. When the Technical Leads are announced there will be no new names despite many people being asked.

Why is no one suggesting going to Jamaica and getting their coaches over here? Arn't they the ones that are doing so well at the moment?
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Postby interested observer » Sun Aug 17, 2008 6:10 pm

i k now this may sound silly but how do you define best coach . i am sure the likes of winch capes etc all think of themselves as best coaches . and before everyone starts i am not saying they are or are not . just how do you decide is what i am trying to find out.

its all very difficult to define . the thing i was most impressed as an onlooker at loughborough throws was the scientific approach of the discus coach. i wonder how many coaches have put into practice some of his methods.

is coaching an art form or the appliance of science ?

if there was some way of taking the best from each coach then perhaps some sort of system could be developed for the good of all.

from what i read on here Bevone actually tries to do this by learning from others
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Postby TheRealSub10 » Sun Aug 17, 2008 6:15 pm

MikeWinch wrote:Bevone, two issues in your response. We do not have great facilities. We have some reasonable facilities and those mainly where there are few athletes, particularly in the South.
I'm sorry but we do have great facilities where we have bothered to put them just no one using them. I was in China recently at one of their 13 centres. Facilities were a lot like our HIPACs the only difference was EVERY room was filled with athletes training, every hour of the day. From youngsters through to world class. If you have facilities then use them and expose as many people as possible to progressive, sensible training. Eventually you will have results.
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Postby TheRealSub10 » Sun Aug 17, 2008 6:30 pm

interested observer wrote:if there was some way of taking the best from each coach then perhaps some sort of system could be developed for the good of all.
Yes but the power of your own experience and pride will over ride these suggestions. There is more information out there now than ever before but they are too scared to do something with it.
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Postby Thornhill » Sun Aug 17, 2008 6:38 pm

Interested Observer your comment is exactly what this whole topic is about.

Mr Winch simply points out that he believes that UKA have not employed the "best people". Hence the results or lack in Beijing. Not that all athletes in Britain are coached by UKA coaches. But all the blame is down to them of course. :)

However UKA never will when the typical salary paid is between £25K - £30K. Cycling and swimming pay this to coaches and athletes in order to be part of a programme move to them, and no-one complains.

But Athletics we are told is "different" how different, I'm not sure. :wink:
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Postby TheRealSub10 » Sun Aug 17, 2008 6:39 pm

interested observer wrote:i k now this may sound silly but how do you define best coach . i am sure the likes of winch capes etc all think of themselves as best coaches .
This isn't a silly question. It is at the heart of coach education. You are supposed to go on competence - that is how you should assess coaches for accreditation etc. The problem is that even if the coach is competent at the end of the day you still ask "but who have you produced". Problem is if you don't have any talent you probably haven't produced anyone.

Someone earlier suggested that perhaps athletes should move to where the facilities are. The same could be said of coaches who want to make it to world class?
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Postby MikeWinch » Sun Aug 17, 2008 6:53 pm

TRS10, I don't know what events you work with, but for throws there are no excellent facilities.

There is not one easily accessible track with adequate areas for all throws to be conducted at the same time and on international level surfaces and landing areas, and there is not one facility indoors which can be adequately used for these events at the same time.

Loughborough is closest indoors but that has little to offer outside.

To produce technical perfection you need the facilities to do it. UK has none and in the South we are particularly badly off even for the mediocre ones.
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Postby TheRealSub10 » Sun Aug 17, 2008 7:25 pm

MikeWinch wrote:To produce technical perfection you need the facilities to do it. UK has none and in the South we are particularly badly off even for the mediocre ones.
You have a point. I'm not exactly sure what you need to have to do well at throws. However, when I have been to countries that produce good throwers I didn't really see too many facilities specifically set up for throws that were what you suggest. What would be ideal in this department?
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Postby interested observer » Sun Aug 17, 2008 7:30 pm

1st thought.
how many coaches/ athletes know the speed any throwing implement as it leaves the hand.
just a simple thought but if regular checks were made on how fast the implement leaves the hand then you have a starting point.

how far it goes will depend on technique of course but if it isnt going fast to start with no amount of expertise will allow it to go further.
iknow this is simple example but i imagine very few know the answer.

and this is what i mean about the appliance of science.
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Postby interested observer » Sun Aug 17, 2008 7:41 pm

2nd thought
how many have a catologue of videos of their athletes of throws taken every day
in todays world very easy to do and keep catologued and certainly something the coach at loughborough emphasised
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Postby Javelin Sam » Sun Aug 17, 2008 8:46 pm

interested observer wrote:2nd thought
how many have a catologue of videos of their athletes of throws taken every day
in todays world very easy to do and keep catologued and certainly something the coach at loughborough emphasised


Well i do have a hell of a lot of photos and videos of my throwers over the years. I think this is very important part of training because it's one thing to be told what you are doing wrong and another to see it!
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Postby Geoff » Sun Aug 17, 2008 8:58 pm

The new technical leads are likely to be the present performance people with the sprints/hurdles/relays shared by two UKA coaches. It is proving difficult to find a director of coaching and strategy. The new person will be responsible for everything up to but not including podium athletes. Collins is not too happy about this. Who wants the job if it does not incude our best athletes? No one is clear about squads at England/UKA level but apparently there will be some funding made available.
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Postby interested observer » Sun Aug 17, 2008 9:57 pm

well thats a start jav. ; if one could quantify the effect a change makes then that would be the appliance of some science .

if you take 2 coaches i am sure often there is disagreement over who is right or wrong over a particular element of an athletes technique. there are 3 possibilities both could be right ;both wrong or one of them correct.

and the more i listen in im not sure how you know which is accurate.

a side factor apparently usain took 41 strides to win the 100m ; so lets say someone takes 60 his legs have to move 50%faster . now these things are easily measured in the throws would be more difficult but in a world where every football player playing a reasonable standard can be monitored as to how far they have travelled in a match ; how many passes ;%made tackles made etc it must be possible to have measurements made of velocity of implement leaving arm .
when this known then all the changes made by coaching will on a particular athlete have either a positive effect or negative. (or make no difference)

in tennis we know the speed of serve ;in cricket the speed of bowling ,
in athletics throws we just have distance
my point is that distance is dependant on finer technique and other parameters would give a better idea of successful coaching thereby making it less of an art form and give some idea as to whether changes are effective.

we have always had the odd potential good young thrower and i just feel that for some reason they fail to progress at the 18-23 level . and i dont think anyone is to blame but perhaps improvments can be made.
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Postby TheRealSub10 » Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:16 pm

interested observer wrote:measurements made of velocity of implement leaving arm .
when this known then all the changes made by coaching will on a particular athlete have either a positive effect or negative. (or make no difference
Radar gun: http://www.tennisnuts.com/ishop/677/shopscr6275.html

Look there are loads of possibilities like this. Problem is are they accurate, is it useful, how will you use it? When will you use it?

A stop watch is a great tool but sometimes you need to put it away. Whenever it's out people will compare their performances and what if it's bad? What does that say about your methods? What does it say about their ability? How does it affect their performance? Their confidence? etc etc...
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Postby Kermit » Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:56 pm

interested observer wrote:is coaching an art form or the appliance of science ?


Both, but there are very few who can combine the two.
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Postby Kermit » Sun Aug 17, 2008 11:05 pm

TheRealSub10 wrote:Problem is are they accurate, is it useful, how will you use it? When will you use it?


Any test that can be replicated will be accurate to your needs. For example Fitness Assessments are only accurate if you have the same series of tests in the same way that you did the first time. In the gym all my athletes/clients had fitness assessments every 6 weeks and 1RM's every 3 weeks, this allowed me to alter their training programmes every 3 weeks which meant a steady and continual progression
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Postby Javelin Sam » Sun Aug 17, 2008 11:55 pm

interested observer wrote:well thats a start jav. ; if one could quantify the effect a change makes then that would be the appliance of some science .

if you take 2 coaches i am sure often there is disagreement over who is right or wrong over a particular element of an athletes technique. there are 3 possibilities both could be right ;both wrong or one of them correct.

and the more i listen in im not sure how you know which is accurate.

a side factor apparently usain took 41 strides to win the 100m ; so lets say someone takes 60 his legs have to move 50%faster . now these things are easily measured in the throws would be more difficult but in a world where every football player playing a reasonable standard can be monitored as to how far they have travelled in a match ; how many passes ;%made tackles made etc it must be possible to have measurements made of velocity of implement leaving arm .
when this known then all the changes made by coaching will on a particular athlete have either a positive effect or negative. (or make no difference)

in tennis we know the speed of serve ;in cricket the speed of bowling ,
in athletics throws we just have distance
my point is that distance is dependant on finer technique and other parameters would give a better idea of successful coaching thereby making it less of an art form and give some idea as to whether changes are effective.

we have always had the odd potential good young thrower and i just feel that for some reason they fail to progress at the 18-23 level . and i dont think anyone is to blame but perhaps improvments can be made.


It's funny you mention the scientific element.. I have signed my group up to a university student's work for this winter where they will be video analyzed and the video will be used to take the measurements you have described. The student is based down at canterbury university where they developed the technology!! I'm looking forwards to seeing what comes out of it!
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Postby usedtoit33 » Mon Aug 18, 2008 12:04 am

I'm very sorry you find my suggestions silly Mike. But given we don't have, and never will be given, the funds to have world class facilities in every city, we need to make the best use of the centres we do have and give our best athletes, funded or not, access to those facilities as much as possible. Still, in return for funding, medical services, being asked to relocate to the best facilities is hardly an unreasonable request.

Whether the skill sets are different for each sport really doesn't matter that much does it? Swimming, cycling and rowing must have fairly similar physiological requirements to athletics. There are no throws or jumps that make as much demand on an athlete technically as gymnastics does. In fact, gymnastics skills are directly transferable to the pole vault.

I don't see why at least the general principles aren't transferable to athletics. There's really no difference between cycling and endurance running apart from the actual sitting on a bike. The team element makes tactics more complicated than in athletics. But basically, the combination of speed and stamina can't possibly be that much different. They train on the road and in the gym just like athletes. Running is far less technically demanding than cycling.

US endurance athletes employ a privately funded version of a squad system under one or two coaches in one centre and their men are much better than ours. And yes, I know they have a bigger talent pool and altitude, but the Ethiopians and Kenyans also do it the same way.

I really don't understand why athletics can't follow suit? Seriously, what on earth is the problem? There are good UKA coaches. Alan Storey, Aston Moore and Jon Trower are brilliant coaches aren't they?
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Postby interested observer » Mon Aug 18, 2008 12:45 am

mike winch mentions coaches with a coaching record .

so who would he say was the best coach for each of the throwing events.
of course i expect more than just a name but a CV as well .

the reason i ask is because im struggling ;the name part is easy the CV is the hard part.
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Postby John Cogger » Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:27 am

If athletics followed some of the ideas/methods used by cycling/rowing etc, all hell would break lose! In both those sports talented athletes are taken from their clubs and go to a central facility and central coaches. Can you imagine the cries of poaching?

In cycling the talent have to a) move to manchester or b) move to manchester. Some of the athletics talent wouldn't cross town to go to a quality training centre!
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Postby TheRealSub10 » Mon Aug 18, 2008 9:08 am

Kermit wrote:In the gym all my athletes/clients had fitness assessments every 6 weeks and 1RM's every 3 weeks, this allowed me to alter their training programmes every 3 weeks which meant a steady and continual progression
Agreed about the use of tools, but here is the question. I assume you do other things apart from lifting. How do you control for these issues? Where is the cause and effect? Does better gym numbers mean decreased performance somewhere else or are they linked to increased event performance?

If the ultimate aim is bigger throws, longer jumps better sprints what does the gym tell you about the progression. Are you getting higher weights scores because of greater muscle tone which would be detrimental to a quality like speed endurance but perhaps have little affect on acceleration? How would this change your setup and planning for the year?

Here S&C is interesting because weightlifting coaches know what they are doing in terms of maximising training for C&J and Snatch because the event itself is the conditioning method used to improve the qualities needed for elite performance. Hence the monitoring of performance is significantly easier than with other sports where S&C is an adjunct. When such coaches work in other sports they get frustrated because the correlation doesn't exist. Athlete gets better in the gym but not at the event. Hence why I bring up the muscle tone example as an important issue where the holy triad of the coach, athlete and therapist is important to the monitoring of performance.

Anyway we are getting away from the point (though into great discussion), my main thrust of the previous thread was the impact such analysis has on the the athlete's psychology. My point being that when you measure something and things aren't improving the athlete wants to know why and this can affect their confidence. So if you want to use technology (which you should) then perhaps the most important thing is to know is when to use it.

Just the fact that the athlete sees you pulling out the stopwatch changes their performance and focus is a huge deal. So think what putting out timing gates or getting out a radar gun would do?

Ultimately what you want is a place to train that is kitted out permanently with "surveillance equipment". Each session you perform the workout and then go away and run back through the workout on video watching the "score" (velocities, angles, forces) that go along with it and do your analysis afterwards. But this is perhaps not possible for the part time coach but should be daily practice for those who are lucky enough to work full time.
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Postby TheRealSub10 » Mon Aug 18, 2008 9:15 am

John Cogger wrote:If athletics followed some of the ideas/methods used by cycling/rowing etc, all hell would break lose! In both those sports talented athletes are taken from their clubs and go to a central facility and central coaches. Can you imagine the cries of poaching?

In cycling the talent have to a) move to manchester or b) move to manchester. Some of the athletics talent wouldn't cross town to go to a quality training centre!
Isn't one issue there that not everyone has a velodrome on their doorstep? If like me you have to travel 50 miles to get to somewhere you can train (what I had to do in another life) then these issues are part of that sport. Problem with athletics is you can do it anywhere. I used to hop, skip and jump at my local adventure playground. I never even saw a track until I left school.

The question is, in today's high performance climate, can you become the worlds best anywhere or do you have to move (perhaps overseas) to achieve your ambition?
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Postby BigGut » Mon Aug 18, 2008 9:48 am

I believe there is an alternative for U23 road cyclists. they don't have to move to Manchester. They only have to go as far as Italy!
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Postby MikeWinch » Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:07 am

IO, General physiology is only in part transferable, because each sport has different skills. General abilities make an athlete able to choose different sports with similar skills, but it doesn't mean they will be equally good at them.

You might remember that Ian Stewart, who at he time was up at the very top of endurance running, decided that he would try cycling. No joy there.

One of the problems we have is that the principles of training athletes are not well understood well in this country. Geoff Dyson and Frank Dick produced great books on how the principles work and yet we are still not understanding that endurance, strength, suppleness and speed are all very specific to the skill. A shot putter accelerates faster than a sprinter but that doesn't make the thrower a good runner.

As a scientist I can say with some authority that sports science is the last bastian of the average coach. You can analyse to the n'th degree but without a 'coaching eye' and an undestanding of basic principles AND how to apply them, no coach will make the grade. How many coaches understand Newtons'Laws of Motion and how they are applied to their event? No many I suspect. How many understand Lactate Tolerance Curves ? How many understand blood buffering? How many understand the difference between strength and power?

More recent coaches may have been taught how to risk assess but very few know the fundamentals of the sport.

As an interesting observation, I was speaking to some sprinters recently returned from the USA. Their comment was that they couldn't believe how hard their American counterparts worked out in the gym. Nothing about the track sessions. This might be a clue to other Countries' success !!
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