Starting as a coach twelve years ago, Julian Emery from North Somerset Athletics Club has seen his training group go from strength to strength throughout the last decade. Not only are his athletes having both national and international successes, but Julian has also been recognised for his dedication to coaching, coming runner-up in the 2023 South West Regional Volunteer Awards in the Coach of the Year category.
We recently caught up with Julian to learn more about his coaching motivations and how he keeps the athletes in his group engaged.
Finding the love of coaching
Starting out as an athlete himself, it wasn’t until Julian started bringing his daughters to North Somerset AC that he made the shift into coaching. Not that Julian left his competitive career behind; he still enjoys running and taking part in races.
Coaching for over a decade is no mean feat, and takes a vast amount of dedication, but what keeps Julian motivated?
"I love to see my athletes thriving, improving, and enjoying training and competing. I originally started the group with my daughter, fellow athlete Jaylan Bacon, and current England 5k champion, Ellie Wallace."
Keeping athletes engaged and preventing the drop off
Growing from a group of just three athletes to the 40 who regularly attend Tuesday evening training sessions is testament to Julian’s perseverance and skill as a coach. Supporting athletes from under-11 all the way through to masters takes a lot of support from club members as Emery explained:
"We have helpers on a Tuesday, and split into abilities to ensure we are not pushing the younger athletes too far and they are not getting overloaded."
"In recent years we have seen for the first time that the under-20 athletes are choosing to stay with North Somerset to train and compete at a time when many clubs see a drop off. We have built a fun bond between both the athletes and coaches, and we have a laugh together. You don’t need to take yourself too seriously no matter what level you are running at.
"Everyone is inclusive, and we don’t worry about who the runners are; as long as they uphold our positive culture then they are welcome. Through Covid we kept sessions on - whether virtually, one-to-one or in small groups when allowed - and we have created an environment that people want to return to. Whether wind or rain, there will always be athletes ready to train together which is really nice to see."
Developing as a coach
Whether you are coaching children aged four at a funetics session, or at the Olympic Games, there is always an opportunity to learn and develop which Julian reiterates to himself, and his athletes.
"The best advice I have received is that if you just keep working, be consistent and have good self-motivation then you can improve at whatever you put your mind to. If you enjoy yourself as a coach and have fun, then that will rub off on those who you are coaching as well. I would like to potentially take my coaching to the next level but I don’t want to affect the group I have built here."
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