Olympic Success and Future

Posted: August 8, 2012 in Coaching Concepts, Movement Training, Stories, Teaching & Learning
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WOW! What a great effort so far from team GB.  Although there are some questions that are arising and some interesting debates on how did this happen and what are we to do to maintain and grow this success?

Are we just a sitting down country?  Surely not. And we can build on the successes of Ennis, the boxers and even the gymnasts who put in a historic performance.  There is a slight “British” feeling of we just take part in some of the events as we celebrate coming 13th and the like and although an improvement (I think), is it enough of an improvement given the time scales?

Anyway, this is where we are and so what are the plans for the future? We need to be careful now as the legacy of the Sydney games is seeing the Australians struggle.  Clearly the investments in cycling has paid off along with good coaching and good athletes and we are still dominant in rowing.  The thing that has stood out for me is that in some of these events, the athletes have only been participating for short time spans (last 4 years for example) and this says something about the sports requirements, does it not? There was a track athlete (I forget his name and the event) but he stated in his post race interview that he had been on the lash for the last 2 years and only begun to work hard for 6 months prior to the event.  Not a great training model but again only 6 months to get to Olympic standard?  It is interesting as Andy Murray dedicated his entire life to winning his gold medal.

On 5 Live just the cycling director was asked how to get young people in the sport or any sport and once again I forget his answer.  This is because I drifted into thinking that young people don’t need to be in cycling as one can be Olympic standard in a short space of time.  This however assumes that the person is a strong, well-rounded athlete with the mentality of such a sport (one which I don’t possess).  However, I am not sure this could be said about a skill sport like tennis.  The development pathway for a young person (starting in primary school) suggests Athlete before sportsman/women and this is where possible we are missing a trick.  This model is somewhat unproven and difficult to follow logically in a technical sport such as tennis but, having said that, I believe that physical competence only helps develop technical skills and that the rate of skill development is and can be sometimes too quick at the expense of training other attributes required in the sport.

Now following on from “Athlete first” as a model of developing people to participate and ultimately compete at the highest level they are capable of, one must look at what goes on in schools.  There is no hiding from this! I don’t believe there is a need for 5 hours nor do I believe “sport” is the answer.  This might seem odd..but wait

Why do children do “extra curricular” activities?  Isn’t it because the schools can’t offer expert teaching, time and resources in some of these activities so one must source them outside of school?   Also since they are not done in school, it makes the attractive?  I understand that this is not possible for everyone but one must consider what the purpose of school is and prioritise.  Maybe there needs to be sports provisions in ADDITION to the curriculum.

Now I firmly believe SOME physical activity must go on and I also believe it needs to be delivered correctly (by qualified teachers who can teach children + have the extensive knowledge of athletic development).  There is an issue of P.E teachers who don’t have a high enough level of knowledge but are great teachers of the information they do have, and Coaches who are terrible teachers but have the knowledge.  A combination seems logical!

In terms of the hours, I think that 2 per week should be sufficient, providing quality and content are the primary concerns.  When I say 2, I mean 2, not 45 mins because it took 15 minutes to get changed and put trainers on the right feet, stand in a line with fingers on lips and take the register.

In summary,

  • Athletes first – Sports later
  • Quality delivers – TEACHERS with knowledge!
  • 2 solid hours per week
  • Athletic Development Curriculum – (movement – function, agility, speed, control, balance etc  coordination, sending/receiving, etc)
  • Provisions for sports (after school clubs, additional “games” lessons)

Is this impossible?  Will it cost that much more to educate current teachers or train new ones and have the dedicated within schools?  That sort of job sounds good to me and I would do it and do it well!

We could call it Athletic Development Co ordinator (lol)

I think that we have to run with the passion and success of the Olympics and allow those educators with passion for developing young people become the vehicle to future success (in sports and health and life).





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