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UK Athletics

UKA World Class Talent Weekend

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Dave Collins
Dave Collins



3 December 2007


Column by UKA Performance Director, Dave Collins, as seen in Athletics Weekly Magazine.


Last Saturday and Sunday saw our 2007-08 World Class Talent programme kick off with another successful induction weekend at Loughborough University.


The weekend was a key part in introducing and settling athletes into the World Class Programme and ensured those attending had a clear idea of where they are on the ladder, where they want to be and how to get there.


But more significantly was the fact that for the first time since I took the role of Performance Director for Athletics we had a 100% attendance turn out for a performance-led gathering.


The reason to this is down to the willingness of athletes, coaches and their parents to buy into the event, using the weekend to discuss, debate and ask as many questions as possible about their competitive plans, current training methods and the philosophy behind the World Class Plan.


However, the other part of this is down to a hard work of our Talent Managers who have worked tirelessly against the clock following the announcement of the World Class Funding lists to ensure all athletes on the World Class Talent (WCT) programme were invited and encouraged to attend such a key event.


This has always been the intention of any gathering led by UK Athletics’ performance team. There is no point for attendees to sit listlessly, being talked at, taking in random facts and figures and suffering ‘death by Powerpoint’.


Nor is there any reason to gather a group of multi-disciplined athletes together for a squad weekend consisting of several “one size fits all” training sessions where little or no benefit can be gained.


What we aimed to achieve was a series of taster session highlighting some of the key aspects that an athlete needs to consider as part of the Five Rings model, paralleled by some essential seminars and information sharing sessions.


Seminars discussing the Five Rings model, practicalities of the World Class plan, coaching development, strength, conditioning and physio programmes, and the parental perspective, benefited greatly from the questions, debates and discussions entered into by attendees.


Practical expertise was demonstrated with workshops including fundamental movement skills led by Steve Backley and John Kiely. Steve’s Power Agility and Coordination software (PAC) is made available to all athletes on the World Class Talent programme – and this session provided an introduction and immediate feedback on some entry level exercises.


Another popular workshop was the media training session led by the communications team. Not least because our athletes are beginning to realise the responsibilities upon them, not least related to their media profile and how their performance in interviews can be as telling about their attitudes as performances out on the track.


Critics might question the need for an induction weekend – but it was an excellent way to link up with our funded athletes and their coaches. I see it as the best possible start to the year ahead - a one-stop shop to communicate with our first rung of the ladder, and a fantastic forum in which to meet our youngest performance athletes.