National Coaching Conference 2018

7th Mar 2018 | Written by Carolyn Reid

On Sunday 25 February, Tollcross International Swimming Centre hosted the 2018 National Coaching Conference. With record attendance, over 60 coaches from across the country came together to share their experiences, develop their skills and take part in interactive sessions led by a range of experienced coaches and staff.

The day kicked off with a keynote session delivered by People Development Manager, Kurt Lindley. Kurt’s session set the scene for the day and his abundant enthusiasm helped to create an open environment so that coaches felt comfortable discussing and sharing their experiences with others.

Through exploration of what makes coaching a fantastic role to be involved in and the areas that can sometimes make it challenging, his session was designed to empower coaches and leave with them more questions than answers to really think about ‘the what’ and ‘the why’ of their coaching practice.

Following Kurt was the choice of two practical sessions, with Ken Bryson and Kevin MacArthur focusing on fast and effective video analysis and Finlay MacHugh from Athlete Focused delivering a fundamental strength and conditioning workshop.

In the pool, Ken and Kevin took their group through simple yet effective ways to capture video to use for analysis purposes with athletes. Video was captured using GoPro style cameras attached to poles and coaches were walked through a few ideas on the best ways to capture footage. This footage was then played back using a few different video analysis software options to highlight the breadth of options available on the market.

Finlay’s fundamental strength and conditioning session highlighted some very simple and effective exercises that could be easily incorporated into a triathlete’s training program. Finlay’s description of using strength and conditioning as a vitamin rather than a painkiller resonated with the group and really hit home the importance of including simple exercises into a regular routine to help prevent injuries.

The break for lunch was a fantastic opportunity for the group to discuss the morning sessions and learn from fellow coaches. Nobby Clark from Glenrothes Triathlon Club  attended the conference and said,

“I’ve loved every minute of it because it’s a learning day for me and it’s enlightening to listen to other people’s viewpoints that can develop me as a coach. It’s also great getting to hear the different viewpoints from the community and applying them into my coaching and passing it on to my athletes that I work with on a daily basis.”

The afternoon began with the introduction of a new type of session, ‘The Power Hour’. The idea behind this new session was to beat the post-lunch slump and provide coaches with valuable information on three key areas that can impact their coaching, and of course how the information can be used to inform their coaching practice. This year the sessions focused on the British Triathlon Athlete Development Framework, the Young Activator Award and Coaching athletes with disabilities.

Lead Triathlon Scotland Performance Coach, Bex Milnes, took coaches through the Athlete Development Framework and how best to design sessions around the ‘six pillars’.

Regional Development Officer and Level 3 Coach, Elise Methven, discussed the Young Activator Award and how coaches can help to support young leaders within their clubs and schools and how the young people, in turn, can support their clubs.

Level 3 coaches and Triathlon Scotland Coach Steering Group members, Ewan Stirling and Rose McIlwhan, shared their experience of coaching athletes with a disability and how coaches can ensure that they support every athlete that comes through the door in a way that fits their needs.

“The power hour went brilliantly. The short, sharp nature of the sessions meant that the coaches were able to engage with a lot of valuable information that they can take into their own coaching practices.” -Susie Benson (Coaching Development Manager)

Following Power Hour, the afternoon sessions were also split into a choice of two practical sessions. Triathlon Scotland Head of Performance, Fiona Lothian, lead a session on developing transition skills in young athletes while former professional cyclist Evan Oliphant and John Lunn lead a session on integrating turbo and rollers in training.

Luckily the weather was favourable and Fiona was able to take coaches outside to walk through the practical application of skills that will help to develop confidence in young athletes. She provided a fantastic insight into designing fun and engaging transition sessions that can develop the skills of athletes in line with the pillars of the athlete development framework.

Evan and John’s session took the coaches through the pros and cons of indoor training equipment and how coaches can make the best use of the items that they have available. According to those at the session, the highlight of the session was watching Evan and John teach two complete novices how to use the rollers, as after just 3 short minutes, they had them upright on the rollers (with the helping hand of a nearby wall just in case!)

The day ended with some final words of wisdom from Kurt Lindley who had managed to make his way around all sessions throughout the day. He spoke about the culture of curiosity within coaching and how coaches can implement this within their own learning. Kurt explored the idea that coaches expect our athletes to get better week on week but what if the tables were turned and our athletes expected us to get better week on week? What if they asked us “what have you learnt this week that will help me get better?”

Coaching Development Manager Susie Benson spoke after the conference saying:

“The National Coaching Conference was a fantastic opportunity to empower coaches to progress their journey and widen perspectives on what it really means to be a coach in the current landscape. As Kurt has highlighted in his blog about the event, we challenge our coaches to go forth and learn. Do not repeat the same year 30 times, but make each year more progressive than the last”.

Susie added, “A massive thanks to everyone that attended, committing to your own development and sharing your coaching experience with the group.”

For a copy of the slides from the National Coaching Conference, click here.

Watch the full video from the Conference below!

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