Coach development update

Coach development update

An update to coaches on our planning for future work on coach development from Head of Coaching and Athlete Development, Martin Rush:

You will be aware that England Athletics has recently adopted a new strategic plan for our delivery of support to the sport.

Across all aspects of the work of England Athletics this strategic plan looks to build on the work that has been undertaken over the last eight years. 

In the area of coaching and athlete development, England Athletics has run the National and Local Coach Development Programmes as the main means to support coaches and through that athlete performance.  These programmes have invested in one to one mentoring, workshops, conferences, Flying Coach and ClubRun activities. They have enabled some coaches to step into International Team Management work, supported some to experience coaching at altitude or work on warm weather training camps and of course they have delivered the direct support through the mentoring programme run by the National Coach Mentor Team.  Eight years of establishing and building this programme has resulted in positive gains across many events and a positive shift in the culture and direction of coach development in athletics.  Opportunities to network and share ideas, challenge and push each other to better performance, to be reflective and open in practice, and to become part of a coaching ‘family’.

Looking back to the start of the programme when I was first appointed to my then role as a National Coach Mentor for Endurance I remember sitting with my colleagues Bud Baldaro and the late Dave Sunderland, drinking copious amounts of tea and working out our strategy to support endurance coaching in England based around mentoring but backed up by our thoughts on what it takes to be a great coach. A lot has happened through this period that I know is a great source of pride not only to my colleagues but also to the many coaches who have made the most of the opportunities available to develop themselves, and have, therefore, also seen their athletes reaping the benefits.

With a new period of funding from Sport England, and stronger connections with UKA across certain programmes there are changes that lie ahead in terms of how we continue to support coaches.

Our coach development work has to evolve in the way it is structured, planned and delivered. The work that has been done over the past eight years, particularly the one-to-one mentoring of coaches, has given us a tremendous platform to build on. Our work will be focussed on creating opportunities for learning and development to continue, and for coaches to continue to access a range of support. We will be organising national conferences, regional and local ‘cells’ (networks of coaches); we will work to develop a ‘support’ coach network (mentoring through the volunteer sector); and in the major shift we will look to work with athletes and coaches at the top of the England pathway especially to embed development, provide a motivational athlete experience and specific information for coaches to work with. 

We will develop the Flying Coach programme and the ClubRun programme, increasing support to road running clubs. All of this will be supported by an online platform, the ‘England Athletics Coaches Club’, that will be designed to engage with coaches and assist them in their development.

This work will continue to be managed by the coach and athlete development team.  This team will be tasked with working with the UKA Talent team to provide a joined-up pathway for athletes and coaches at the top of the England pathway, as well as working to ensure that our club development and club coaching thrives at a local level.

In summary:

  • we will continue to invest in coach development, it is central to our support for athletes  
  • we will build on the success of the National and Local Coach Development Programmes but there will be a need to change how we support coaches to adapt to the nature of our funding going forwards and to build sustainability
  • there will continue to be both national and local coach development events and support programmes
  • we will work closely with UKA on athlete and coach development to support the UKA Futures programme targeting the top of the England Athletics performance ranks with specific athlete and coach work.
  • we will continue sustained investment in the successful women in coaching project and in making all of our work inclusive at the point of delivery
  • we will ensure the expert delivery around technical and development knowledge continues to be developed and is contracted in, where required, to help deliver the programme
  • we will ensure connectivity between national and local coaching events/ activities by ensuring we have a planned pathway of development material
  • we will ensure greater connection between the qualification pathway and the development work
  • England Athletics will continue to train and support coach and leader tutor workforce as a key component or our support to volunteer coaches working in clubs and with running groups across England.
  • we will ensure that coaches are engaged as part of an England Athletics coaching community through an online ‘Coaching Club’.  This will work so people can self-help but also network and share resources to support the volunteer coaching community. This work will take some time to develop and we hope that this will be up and operational by winter 2017.
  • planning for the autumn and winter coaching development programme will begin in the coming weeks and we will work to communicate details of this activity to coaches during the summer months.
  • we look forward to building on the existing relationships with the coaching community during the summer months and look forward to seeing you all track side at our national championships and at those events that EA supports/ funds such as area and county competitions and of course the English Schools.

Martin Rush, Head of Coaching and Athlete Development

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