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Coaching Advice At Hand

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Column by Callum Orr, UKA Head of Coaching & Teaching, as seen in Athletics Weekly Magazine

 

 

6 January 2008

 

Just ten years ago, most people were not aware of the World Wide Web, had never heard of the internet and knew surfing only as a trendy watersport. Since then (Wikipedia tells me), the internet has doubled in size annually.

 

Love it or loathe it, the internet is here to stay, exerting an ever increasing influence on society. The opportunities and dangers of the internet are well known and we make our choices about the extent and complexity of our engagement. We must recognise however that a sophisticated and discerning generation is growing up for whom computers and the internet have always been present. How do we as coaches make best use of what the internet has to offer and ensure that we are equipped to engage and work with this new generation?

 

When I talk with coaches through my role as UK Athletics Head of Coaching or on my home patch, working with 400m runners in Loughborough, two things frequently strike me: The first is that coaches are enormously dedicated, passionate and committed. The second is that they are always dissatisfied.  I stress that I see this as strength – good coaches want continual improvement and pursue it tenaciously.  So what are the question’s I’m always being asked?

 

  • Can I be sure that internet articles are reliable?

  • Where can I find videos of athletes at and how do I know what is good technique?

  • I need a mentor, but I can’t think of anybody suitable – can you help?

  • How can I get in touch with others who coach the same events?

  • How can I keep a record of my own planning and integrate it with the athletes’ log books?

  • How can I encourage athletes to eat well and keep an ongoing health record?

  • Why don’t coaches work together better and share plans and ideas?

 

Coaches have used the internet in various ways to begin to answer some of these questions. With persistence, one can find many videos; thousands of articles; more advice on health and nutrition than could be read in a lifetime and plenty of ‘on-line coaches’ and advisors who will happily provide advice – for a fee.

 

Over the past year, a growing number of coaches have been using MySport, an internet service designed to provide coaches with a set of tools to enhance their coaching. I have worked with MySport to develop this site for athletics and it is now available free of charge to all UKA licensed coaches and their athletes.

 

MySport answers the questions posed above and it’s endorsed by the CPSU/NSPCC. There is a growing catalogue of over 1,000 video clips of athletes across every event and age group – some accompanied by expert analysis. There are articles from reliable sources. The site provides a virtual meeting place for coaches and in the near future, I envisage event groups taking advantage of the facility to share video and other files and conduct online discussions.

 

Athletes can view videos uploaded by their coach and most importantly, can see the planned sessions and add feedback to them, thus building a reliable record of progress. Because UKA is working in partnership with MySport, we can determine exactly what it does, how it works and how it develops for your future use. I would therefore encourage you start using MySport and provide us with feedback on how to make it even better. Go to www.mysport.net, click on Athletics and get started!