Injury Free….Not today!

Injury Free …..Not today!

Over the period of about 10 yrs or so I have coached many people, seen many people being coached and just been around some good high profile events watching whats going on. Yep I’m still learning too.I spent many weeks with my mentor, Rob Ellchuk in Bath who I consider a great coach and a fountain of information, just watching and learning, asking question, and I still ask him questions now, and run scenarios past him.

Why do i do this ? I coach young athletes and the last thing I want to do is injure an athlete through coaching and loose them from the sport. As many people know I have developed a standard set of drills, that over the years have been the start of many sessions without injury. (when done properly). When I see a new exercise / drill being carried out by other people, I look at this and think, useful, usable, yes/no as I did recently at The Muller Anniversary Games with the French and GB team. So I tried this with a couple of my athletes, asked for feedback, was there a benefit and made a decision.

The reason I write about this is because today I had news from a friend that their child had picked up an injury from a session with a new coach. We discussed the things that were done during the session and I just don’t get it. I’ve never seen this exercise performed anywhere in my athletic career from any level of athlete, and cant link it to running. So I asked my fountain of Knowledge, Rob. Very interesting reply, 4 words that just summed it up. Not Good. So its a sad time for this young athlete, foot up, iced, resting.

Whats the moral of the story?, for me. I know what level my coaching is at, I do and will keep questioning what I do during sessions, I will keep asking questions to my mentor, I will continue to make my sessions fun. It will always be  “” All about the athlete “”

 

The Reason I Coach

08/05/2018

 

The Reason I Coach

Today was that day. I spent a good part of the day at the Brewers Games in Cheltenham supporting athletes that I coach, some belong to clubs and some don’t. It was great to see so many young athletes enjoying the sunshine although a little hot. So today, a young athlete  came to the games to compete for the first time in 2 years on the track, I can honestly say I have never seen anyone so nervous before a race. So we sat and chatted did a few drills and got ready for the race and still so very nervous. That’s what we do as a coach, different athletes require different levels of coaching at different times.

So on your marks, get set, stand up please, yep my athlete was moving on the line, lets try again, on your marks, get set, stand up please, yep same athlete not stable on the line (nervous). Third time lucky, on your marks, get set, bang yes we are off. Finished the race in second and this is where it gets good. Now the young athlete is smiling, cant believe they finished the race, good time as well. So I watch an athlete turn from a quivering nervous wreck into a young athlete with belief in their own ability. I then turn to their mum who has got the biggest smile on their face because of what they had just watched. If i’m honest that’s why i coach, its not just about the technical or skills we help athletes with, but when you can assist them mentally as well that’s where it really counts.

When i got home i had a great email from the athlete that just summed up how they felt. If you think this is pretty normal, the bit i haven’t told you is, where and what the athlete has come from and been threw over the last few years and that’s what makes is great…

Anyway lots of New PB’s today..

Invictus Games – They must have missed me !!

30/04/2018

Just to lighten the mood when things can seem so gloomy. I had a phone call today from British Athletics asking if i was available to train some athletes at the trials for the Invictus Games who were potentially going to Australia. Ha Ha that’s where it all started last time, So obviously I accepted the challenge, then they ask my availability for 3 more dates to train some athletes at the Invictus trials. Well i’m checking my diary to see if it fits, i’m sure it will.

This was a lovely reminder today for me to realise why, i do what i do and what i am actually able to offer as a coach. To be recognised by British Athletics as someone who can train athletes at a high level is a privilege, so “”thanks”” to British Athletics and this is what makes it great for all our young athletes that I and my team work with. To be able to bring this experience and knowledge back to help develop YOUR young athletes is a real pleasure for me. So coaching for the Invictus trials….here we go again. Maybe a meeting with Harry……again .

“” Oh NO ” for all adults at YOSC.

05/04/2018

 

“Oh NO ” not more challenges for Lodge Sports. I’m sorry to have to say that under the new management guidelines and the new YOSC pricing structure i have been forced to make a few changes.

For many years of Lodge Sports hiring the athletics track, i have seen many parents sit in the stands and do nothing whilst their children run and develop. Well as many of you know i have always encouraged the parent to “” Do Something” and this was one of the things i encouraged, and over the years we have had a few parents run/walk around the track in lane 1 that i kept free for them. Lately this progressed into a small circuit session as well, that encouraged the parents to “” do something””.We have also recently had a dad come to throw Javelin again who use to train with Steve Backley how inspirational is that for the children. That’s how i see it inspirational for the children to see their parents on the track and happy.

The hire charge for the track was for juniors and that’s what the clubs were, ok so a hand full of parents ran/walked around the inside lane and many of them we didn’t charge, that’s good right, well lets tell you whats changed.

As from the 1st of April because Lodge Sports is classed as a commercial operation my charge for the track is to double, if i were NOT classed as commercial then my charges for the track for the hour would have increased by £1. Hmmmm that’s the first bit now for the parents. If i allow parents on the track during a junior session then my charge will be quadrupled eg £57 or £66 for the hour. So with just a hand full of parents that use the track i’m afraid that YOSC will no longer let adults onto the junior session unless i pay the adult prices, this makes it very difficult for me as many i don’t charge and still don’t intend to charge. It was my way of giving something back to those parents that bring their children week after week, Therefore, those adults will now have to stop running and stop inspiring their children, as for the Javelin thrower i’m sorry you cant inspire the children either, and as for the young 28yr old that comes on her own on a Friday night trying to get into the fire brigade but trying to improve her running, I’M SORRY but you cant come either as i would need to charge you £50 for the hour and i wont do that.

Whats the answer, well i’m trying to talk to to the management but they seem to be set in their new ways at the moment but i will keep you up to date with any developments. As for how i feel, don’t ask many of you know me and i am frustrated (and that’s polite) that this is happening after so many years of building, “” i wonder whats changed””

If anyone has any answers i’m up for listening.

 

mark

Good Coach….Bad Coach

27/03/2018

So you choose a sport that your children like and off you go to a club, and there before you are lots of coaches waiting to help, or are they?

So let me tell you why i talk about this, over the last 2 months i  have had 2 athletes come to me from outside the area that, both went to different athletics clubs. Nice athletes, great to coach, not outstanding at what they do, but both with a great attitude to work. So what went wrong? i just listened to what they had to say.

So over the last 2 months both of these athletes have chatted to me and told me what led to their departure from the clubs they were in, and that’s what gets me a little sad. One left the club because they fell out with one coach over personal issues. That coach was friends with the head coach who decided to virtually dis own the athlete into, not coaching them or “do what you want” coaching technique, after 8 yrs at the club. Athlete No2 came from another club and joined when they were young, at the age of 13,  was not treated at all nicely by a coach, to the point where they couldn’t stay at the Club,made to feel they were not any good, killed their  self confidence. This athlete stayed away from athletics, something they loved for 2 yrs.

So i now coach both athletes and they both have so much to give to this sport, and they have found their love for athletics again. So what did i do? Nothing more than i usually do for any athlete.I have fun, teach them skills, improve technique and most of all build confidence in their own ability. Isn’t that what all coaches do, obviously not. The problem is, this is only 2 of how many?, i don’t know, but lets not steal the dreams of our young athletes. What advice can i give, well the top 2 words on my list would be “Fun” and ” Enjoyment”, both make learning so much easier.

The question is “how did they get to know about me”  ?

Thanks for reading.

We need to talk ?

21/03/2018

“We need to talk”

Yes that’s what she said, actually her name was Caroline Buckle she was a classifier for British athletics and was at the Bath Track working that day.

So After the day of sprint coaching for British athletics Parallel Success for the day i tracked down this lady and we sat and had a chat. Unknowingly to me Caroline had been watch me throughout the day do what i do best, coach. She said she had been impressed by what she saw and liked what i did and would i like to be part of the England Team for the CP world games in Nottingham. Of coarse i would, why wouldn’t any coach. Caroline was head coach for the athletics team.

So off we go to Nottingham. What a fantastic team we have from old to young, Male and female all with Cerebral Palsy (CP). Hence the CP world games. So there was lots of different sports but i was coaching the athletics side of things. We had a few days to coach before the competition and we were at the Harvey Haden Centre in Nottingham which had just had £16 million spent on a refurb, really nice place. So we coached lots of athletes and had a good laugh on the way, i challenged Morris Fox to a discus competition, hes a thrower by the way and a lovely guy, well we got the field judges involved and Morris threw about 35/40m and then walked out the circle, i  threw 10m and won the comp, how you may say, well Morris walked out the front of the circle and got DQ’d so i was happy. Now the team found this hilarious and we had banter all day and as you can imagine the rest of the week. So the games began and the team performed brilliantly, they remembered everything, brilliant to part of the team.

What do i remember the most! Well 2 days before the track events i was given the task to help choose the relay teams and train them, great 2 men’s teams and 1 ladies team. Now if you know a little about relay you will know it makes it a little easier if you exchange the baton from left hand to right hand to left to right, great my fastest ladies could only do Left hand to left hand to left to left, hmmmmm a little tricky but we can do it. All the athletes listened well and practised, both men’s teams looked good and the ladies couldn’t quite get the baton exchange right without dropping it, OOOOPS have i made a mistake, well to late day of the race. Off they go men’s a”A” team, first exchange drop the baton into the Irish teams lane, wait, I’ve taught them this, pick it no infringement and run so they did and so did the Men’s “B” team. The girls were flying, but i couldn’t watch, yeh i did, Kadeena Cox to bring home the baton.That’s my favourite moment of the games. oh you want to know the results.

Mens “A” team, you know the ones that dropped the baton took Gold, Men’s “B” team took silver, and the ladies they took gold with a new English record. Where there a will there’s a way. So another week of memories created and more friends made

There is one thing to add to this,I’ve never seen a man work so hard. I invited Tim Button of Cleve Chiropractic to be the Chiro, Physio for this event and he came with the team.As he was on his own, he had his work cut out, for all the athletes who basically loved Tim and cued outside his door, then the swimming team found too. I take my hat off to Tim he didn’t stop and he treated everyone, a valued member of the England Team. Thanks Tim.

 

 

Invictus London

 

 

14/03/2018

 

So What was it really like. Absolutely amazing, eye opening,jaw dropping, etc etc i could go on. So its my first big event coaching, full kit, part of the team, opening ceremony, walking out in front of thousands of people and press, very privileged.
So you have to understand that we took over a hotel in London for the duration of the Invictus games. You could walk into the hotel reception at any time when the team was around to find lots of guys and girls just chatting having a laugh the odd leg lying around(false one).But there is a curfew usually about 10pm ish for all athletes to be in their rooms. That’s when the coaches start to work oh yes i said work, planning, preparation etc.
Over the next few days it was photo shoots, visits from Prince Harry and co and off to get some last minute coaching in with the team. BIG surprise we were bundled on coaches and shipped of to the American ambassadors residence to watch in his garden The Foo Fighters live on stage eat Hot dogs, ice cream, drink 1 beer(yeh right, tell the boys that) and watch the band in amongst 100’s of athletes from all over the world, wow what a night.
Competition day at Lee Valley, Harry, William and Charles all sat in the stands, i have never seen so much security. So Discus, Shot put, Javelin, yep we are in the medals everyone is doing great what a day, watching the track events too so many inspiring people to chat too, even the wheelies , Joe Townsend flying performance on the track winning 4 gold medals.
Once our event was over its a chance to support the rest of the team in their event, seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball and rugby, England verses USA in the final will never forget that atmosphere, oh and we won.

Biggest memories for me were not on the track, despite we did well but the stories you listen to in the hotel in the evening enjoying 1 beer, when you have a man sat with you with no legs telling you his story , having a laugh about it  is so surreal. The things that they have been through and are still going through, unbelievable, but, it what you become that counts. I can honestly say its the best bunch of athletes that i have coached and i have made many friends from that event. A truly historic occasion for me and one i shall never forget. As for the closing ceremony, what an ending to a fantastic week.

So whats next, well that would be back to coaching as normal to be approached by a women i had never seen before on the track at Bath, she said ” we need to talk”.

Your in the way Prince Harry !!

11/03/2018

 

Strange title but lets wait and see.

Shortly after starting coaching at Yate, a man turned up one day and asked if their was anybody in the Club that would be interested in coaching disabled athletes, his name was Job King from British Athletics. Well i jumped at the chance and was promptly introduced to a young lady who was in a wheel chair, so wheelchair racing it was. Ah first problem i knew nothing about racing in wheelchairs so i tagged on as a volunteer with Job where ever he went. Yep picked it up quick, started to help job out  and began to coach wheelchair racing for British Athletics. I now have been a wheelchair racing coach for about 7/8yrs and still travel to loughborough and lee valley to help when i’m needed.

So i was needed or so i thought, August 5th 2012,  i was asked by Job to support the first Invictus games trials in london, “could i do the wheelchair racing” of coarse i can. So in a week i was off to Lee Valley to assist in racing, but the day before i had a phone call from the athletics head coach who said they didn’t need me for racing anymore as there was only one coming, ” darn” i thought. ” Can you coach throws instead” i was asked, well yes i’m a multi event coach anyway so of coarse i can. So off we go to lee valley where there are lots of servicemen and women, absolutely fab to work with. So yep i coached Shot put, Discus, Javelin, little story their, one of the guys threw the javelin let out a scream and held his back, “whats up i said” “broken back” came the reply and he promptly picked another javelin to have another go and off he went. So mid afternoon yep Prince Harry and William arrive to look around the first Games. Now the atmospheres changed, lots of clicking cameras and press.

A couple of the guys asked if i would show them how to throw the hammer so i said yes, we entered the cage and one of them said that i had better not throw because Prince Harry is crossing the infield, and their he was side stepping across the infield in front of the hammer cage. So we let him get across. We threw the hammers and went to collect them and back he came Prince Harry, shook our hands and then we had a conversation about crossing the infield. I can honestly say for the first time meeting prince Harry he is such a nice guy, very down to earth and great to talk to, a real pleasure and a memory i wont forget. So that’s the first time i met Harry, the next time was at the games themselves.

Oh yes forgot to say,  3 weeks after the trials i had an email from the head coach saying that they had been very impressed with my coaching, would i like to be the throws coach at the First Invictus Games in London for team GB. It took me about a minute to reply, OMG my first big call up.

So whats it like walking out in front of thousands of people wearing a GB top for the first time?…maybe i will tell you one day!!

its about the athletes right!

09/03/2018

Before i tell you how wheelchair racing led me to meet Prince Harry and take me around the world, let bring you a little up to date.

Things are never quite as straight forward as you think. Over the last 6 months or so its been a trying time for my family and i. I with a fellow coach decided to put in place a new Affiliated athletics Club purely to give more competitive opportunities for the athletes. Well, did i think it would work alongside the local clubs, yes i did and i still do. So whats happened ?. Well it seems, because of “Potential Conflict” i am no longer able to coach for the Local club after 10 yrs of volunteering Tuesdays and Thursdays so i have been asked to leave. Ok “i get it”…no i don’t !. Its all about the athletes isn’t it ? well this is the sad bit, actually really sad bit. When you have athletes that you have coached for years look at you and say “well if your not here we wont be back” not just 1 but 2 and 3 and then parents that aren’t happy. You begin to realise its not just about the Club, or just the athlete its the relationships you build, the confidence you help grow the belief you give the young athletes and most of all its their belief in you.

Now this is where we are at the moment in a bit of a turmoil state, lots of changes, different things to come. But i have had to rethink a little and ask myself why do i do what i do. The answer is “”read the last blog”” and see where it started for me. The girl with the issue !!! well we all have issues, my role as coach, is to help athletes overcome theirs, run, jump, throw, confidence or belief etc that,s what i do best.

See you on the track, chat if you like, run if you like, moral is #just run faster

 

So where did it Begin !

07/03/2018

Well at school i was a pretty good hurdler, javelin thrower, long jumper etc so yep a multi event athlete. Competed at county level and that was the end when i left school no support from parents got a job athletics over, or was it !

About 20 yrs later one of my children was diagnosed with ADHD, Asperger’s, and Dyslexia, so yep we got him into sport, but watching from the sidelines as a dad you could see within the team sports, they just didn’t get him and that was sad. So off to another sport that i had enjoyed as a child Athletics..There he began to shine, high jump, yep he’s tall, run, yep he’s got long legs, accepted yes he was….fabulous. However that’s when my passion began all over again.

I watched a girls 100m race at a local club event and i saw a girls run the 100m, limp the whole way, come last and have a big smile on her face. She had on her feet a pair of Nike trainers with one heel far bigger than the other, she had an issue but finished the race. Light bulb moment for me ” that’s the kind of people i would love to work with” and so it began my journey from that day to becoming a, Wheelchair Racing coach for British athletics (still am today), Talent ID coach, Invictus Games coach, CP World Games coach, Team GB Target Sprint coach, coaching some of the fastest disabled athletes in the UK. Through to having some of the largest fully inclusive athletics clubs in the South West. Each one of the above has its own story to tell. And they are to come.