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athlete development model

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19 May 2010

In a world first, UKA has this week published a cutting edge resource dedicated to athlete development.

The model, developed by UKA in consultation with the Home Countries and with the input of global experts, was designed to help inform coaching decisions as athletes progress from pre-puberty through to adulthood and is now a leading resource for the sport, establishing a framework and identifying parameters from which coaches can work.

Few strategic documents of this nature have existed previously and it’s expected that this Athlete Development Model, which will continue to evolve as new research and information becomes available, will now inform core elements of the sport moving forward, from coaching qualifications to competition structure.

The written content, which will be published online through UKA’s dedicated coaching resource uCoach, will be supported through other multi media channels including podcasts and videos.

“A lot of the factors covered in this model have never been truly explored before in any document on athlete development,” says John Kiely, UKA’s Athletic Conditioning Education Lead. “Issues such as tendon health and bone development have been largely ignored despite the fact that they account for the vast majority of injuries seen in mature athletes. If we can give coaches information on how to address these factors in developing athletes we can help to bulletproof them against future injury.”

“We were asked by coaches to provide guidelines for athlete development and we’ve responded with this Athlete Development Model,” added UKA’s Coaching Professional Development Manager Tom Crick. “For the first time in athletics history, we’re offering a structured and informative document, which provides insight into how young athletes develop through puberty and the implications this has on training, in addition to addressing the differences between male and female athletes.”

“Now, as a coach, if you want some guidance about what is happening developmentally with, say, a 13-year-old athlete, you can simply run through the diagrams we have produced and immediately gain some insight. Following that, if you want more clarification, you can read the text, listen to the podcast and go to uCoach and search for information on bone health, for example.”

“This document does not dictate what you should and should not do, however,” he concluded. “Instead it provides guidelines as to what may be appropriate and what factors need to be considered when making decisions. As with everything in athletics, each athlete is an individual and it’s the judgement calls we make everyday as coaches that ultimately dictate if our athletes continue to enjoy and have success in the sport, avoid injury and fulfil their aspirations.”

The Athlete Development Model, alongside an initial explanatory podcast, can be accessed now on uCoach at http://www.uka.org.uk/coaching