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Kevin Tyler uCoach Launch
England Athletics is working closely with UKA Strategic Head of Coaching Kevin Tyler

02 December 2009

England Athletics Head of Coaching Richard Wheater on work to develop coaching in England

England Athletics has two main areas of focus: Club development and Coach Development. I am responsible for coach development within England and we work incredibly closely with UKA around a common philosophy announced by Kevin Tyler at the launch of the National Coaching Strategy on 28 October – this took place on a platform shared with the heads of coaching for England, Wales and Scotland who have been fully involved and are in complete agreement with the strategy created .

Good coaching is the key contributing factor towards developing healthier clubs with successful athletes in the long term. If we can work to support one coach, they will impact positively on many athletes over their career. Groups of coaches working together are likely to multiply this effect many times.

There are three principles which we apply to all coach development in England Athletics. Firstly, all opportunities focus on skills coaches require to support athletes in achieving long term success: their best possible performance as seniors.

Secondly, all coaches involved in the National or Local Coach Development Programmes receive this support free of charge -  but we ask simply that each coach supports two other coaches in return, based locally to them.

Finally, that all activities are set up with the needs of the coaches attending taken as the first consideration, ahead of an athlete or group of athletes who may be involved. This does not mean that any athletes should not have a great experience, simply that the coach should be the priority of our coach development programmes.

We now have 150 coaches across a spectrum of events on our National Coach Development Programme. These are being mentored by some of the best coaches in the country as well as being given access to courses, conferences and other resources. The coaches in the programme are asked to help mentor and support other coaches who are signed up to our local Coach Development Programme.

The programmes encourage and enable the sharing of knowledge from one coach to another as well as providing the best possible coach development opportunities. For example, England Athletics supported 139 coaches to attend the International Festival of Athletics Coaching (IFAC) in Glasgow last month and recently have held a series of high quality masterclasses

Many more events are planned and on the way and these are vital to our focus on coaching, but most important is that we continue to refer back to our three principles mentioned earlier – if an event or activity supports these ideals then we know we are working in the right direction.We will take significant time to achieve our aims but we will only be able to get there working together as coaches.

With Kevin Tyler’s team leading on developing the new coach education syllabus and materials, including the excellent new uCoach website launched early this month, England’s focus will be on resourcing and empowering our networks of coach mentors to spread the message of best coaching practice as deep into our clubs as possible.

It is very exciting to see a clear line of coach mentoring and education from grassroots delivery up through England Staff to the National event coaches at UKA. It is also exciting to see these professional roles created within coaching – something I know we would all like to see more of as the sport begins to recognize the value and importance of investing in high quality coaching.