7th March 2022
COACH PROFILE - ANDREW MIHRANIAN
Club: Stockport Athletics Coaching
Combined Events coach
What is your athletics background?
I was privileged to be brought up in Cyprus and spent most of my formative years outdoors, enjoying the Mediterranean sunshine. I competed at the Pancyprian Games in the 400m; for my school in 200m and relays and for my house athletics team in disciplines from 100m to high jump to cross country.
I came to the UK to continue my education and gained a degree in Economics at Nottingham University. My passion for athletics was reignited in 2010 when I started teaching and coaching multi-disciplinary sports in a primary school. It wasn’t long before I realised coaching athletics was my real passion and encouraging young athletes to reach their full potential was my driving force, and this continues to drive me.
How long have you been coaching, and in what field?
I achieved my Athletics Coach qualification in 2012, having worked as a coaching assistant and run athletics sessions in primary school where I was teaching prior to achieving this qualification.
I launched Stockport Athletics Coaching, focusing on coaching in line with the Long-Term Athlete Development Model advocated by UK Athletics.
I then completed all four event group qualifications in sprints and hurdles; jumps; throws and endurance. As a group we focus on combined events which brings all the athlete centred benefits to young, developing, athletes.
I continue to learn daily through my own coaching experiences, from other coaches and the vast array of educational resources available to us as athletics coaches. This incredible journey is endless, and the ability to adapt and change is a continued driving force.
What attracted you into coaching?
After many years of teaching different sports at primary schools– tennis, football, tag rugby, cricket and so on, I was asked to add athletics. I soon realised how much I had missed it and how much I enjoyed it.
I felt that I could make a contribution to the sport in my local area so I contacted my local Club Stockport Harriers and set up a Sunday morning session at the track for the school that I was working for at the time. It soon became apparent to me that coaching athletics to young people was what I wanted to do and I left teaching to become a full-time athletics coach.
What is your coaching philosophy?
My philosophy is centred completely around the UKA Long Term Athlete Development Model (LTADM). As such it is ‘athlete centred’ and focussed on whole child development. We don’t specialise too early in any one event or group of events. Later specialisation avoids issues of physical and or mental burnout from doing too much too soon with young athletes who are going through an enormous amount of overall development.
We appreciate the physical attributes of an under 9 may completely change by the time they are an under 20 and, as such, through multi-activity/multi-eventing we try and keep as many options open to them as possible.
We recognise and appreciate that we are working in the developmental stages with the performance years ahead of us and still to come.
We welcome all who want to do athletics, recognising that skills, abilities, passions, commitment, dedication, focus … can all change over time! We appreciate that there are late developers!
As far as is possible we try and avoid a ‘one fits all’ approach and try and make development focused on the individual. We use combined events as a developmental tool and as a means of not being tempted into early specialisation with any young, developing athlete. Most athletes will go through an event group stage and then specialise in an event that they are best at as a young adult.
We train between 4.15 & 6.30pm every school day as I believe we need to take advantage of training in lighter/warmer conditions with young people who have a lot on. In this way, they get home early for an evening meal, to get homework done and to prepare for school the following day. Another advantage is that there is less competition for space in this slot and on most days we have the facility to ourselves.
Everyone has their own skills, strengths, passions in life and so Stockport Athletics Coaching is very much a group effort and not just down to me! The input from Stewart Connor (athletics coach) and Bill Shone (personal trainer in charge of strength and conditioning) is immense. Other coaches who are friends of the group come in and do excellent sessions across different events whenever and wherever possible.
What keeps you motivated?
Observing athletes challenge themselves both physically and mentally, in order to achieve their own personal athletic objectives. Any reference to ‘I can’t do it’ is not accepted in the group, unless ‘yet’ is added. When ‘yet’ becomes a reality and the athlete does achieve a higher/longer jump; a faster time; a longer throw……everything becomes so worthwhile.
It is incredibly motivating and inspiring, especially as it is being achieved by a very young individual on a very steep learning curve!
What do you consider your biggest achievement from a coach perspective?
As the lead athletics coach running a training group, ‘achievement’ is broad and varied:
- The number of young people I have introduced and got involved in athletics over the years through Stockport Athletics Coaching.
- The coaching group, physios, parent group and others who form Stockport Athletics Coaching and ensure athletes continue to progress through their developmental years whilst with the training group.
- Not being elitist in any way. We offer athletics to every young person, irrespective of their ability and what they want out of the sport. As a result, we have young people training for a variety of reasons – to become elite athletes; for health and fitness; to contribute skills/fitness levels for other sports; to be part of a group from a social perspective and so on. All of which contribute towards whole child development.
- Every time an athlete leaves the group to go to university and remains involved in athletics.
- Every time an athlete represents Greater Manchester or their club in combined events at regional and national level or in any single event at any regional or national event, such as the Northerns, EA National finals & English Schools Finals.
- Having two out of the three U17 male athletes who won the Regionals and represented Greater Manchester at the English Schools Combined Events Nationals prior to the pandemic.
- Getting two combined eventers to the ESAA Combined Events in 2021 despite the disruptions to training caused by the pandemic.
- Producing athletes with UK rankings in steeplechase and a Mason Trophy Champion in this event. This is a great indicator of how well we are doing, as a combined events group, in keeping all options open for young developing athletes, especially as we are based at a club with a very rich endurance pedigree.
- Currently coaching the No 1 U13 female pentathlete from 2021 and the U20 female 11th placed indoor EA pentathlete in 2022.
- Keeping the group training throughout the pandemic within the regulations.
- Being runner-up in the North West Coach of the Year, 2021.
What are your ambitions for 2022/23?
To continue encouraging as many young athletes as possible through the LTADM to achieve excellent fitness, numerous event-specific skills, and ultimately achieve their full potential as athletes.
For those serious about becoming elite athletes of the future, my ambition is to achieve their best possible results at national events during this period.