Dave Collin's Performance Roadshow Notes - Creating 2012 Olympic Medals

Hi everyone, I wrote a little review of this talk here:


Below is a copy of Dave’s personal notes that can be found on the UK Athletics Website here:


The notes on the UKA website have tables etc but I have reposted it here because I think some people will be interested in this talk.

Explanatory notes to accompany presentation

Slide 1 – New Directions for UK Athletics

UK Athletics Performance Director Dave Collins hosted a series of public meetings on 17-27 October 2005 to explain how the new Performance Pathway will help athletes deemed capable of achieving podium / top eight placings at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and / or the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Slide 2 – Condolences to our French colleagues

WHY the need for action?

I start here with sincere apologies to anyone from France – especially the rugby union players from that wonderful country who beat me regularly during my playing years. Paris 2012 T-shirts were on sale at half-price within half an hour of London winning the IOC vote – and I was starting to get phone calls saying: ‘That takes the pressure off you on the way to Beijing, doesn’t it? The Government have got to fund athletics fully now all the way through to 2012, haven’t they?’

The truth is that, no, the Government don’t have to, because people’s perceptions are that this sport is under-performing; that we are not necessarily a good investment; that there are other sports in which successes are more likely.

And it does not really matter what people in athletics think; whether they agree with the Government or whether they think our performances in the 2004 Olympic Games and the 2005 IAAF World Championships were good enough.

The Government provide the funds so they are entitled to decide how their money is spent. They have set our targets:

• Five medals from athletics and eighth place in the medals table for Team GB as a whole at the 2008 Olympics;

• Eight medals from athletics and fourth place in the medals table for Team GB as a whole at the 2012 Olympics.

So we need to recognise the reality of the situation we are in: perceived as a failing sport by the Government and UK Sport, we need to start to recognise the realities now – because anyone who doubts the devastating impact of the loss of Lottery funding should ask our colleagues in sports such as gymnastics and judo. They will vouch for the fact that slow strangulation can be extremely painful.

So we need to turn around performance levels at the top end of athletics – and do it quickly!
How? Run faster, jump longer, throw further, jump higher.

Slide 3 – What do I do?

I don’t…

It is not my job – or that of the UK Athletics Senior Performance Managers, Performance Managers at the High Performances or the Senior Performance Coaches around the country – to improve the general standards of athletics in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

That task is in the hands of highly capable people at UK Athletics, headed by the Director of Athlete Development Zara Hyde Peters – ‘Dad’ to her friends – and at the Home Country Athletics Federations (HCAFs) and in the regions who will be working dedicatedly to improve the general standards. There will be finance available for Event Management Groups and for many other aspects as the sport constructs a coherent pathway for all.

On my travels around the country, it was a real shame to see magnificent facilities, such as the Indoor Athletics Centre at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, nearly empty. These are crucial among our nurseries for our future successes – not just for the next two Olympic cycles but for generations to come.

I do…

If we win five athletics medals in Beijing and all those medals come from, say, the sprints and the sprint relays, I will have done my job, the SPMs will have done their jobs and the SPCs will have done their jobs. That’s the bottom line, though of course the successes we achieve at competitions like next summer’s European Championships will be important contributors. However I will not have driven up general standards in British athletics.

It goes without saying that we have to do all we can to drive up the standards of our elite and near-elite athletes.

It cannot be emphasised enough that improving the quality of the personal coaches of these athletes is an absolutely crucial part of the puzzle – not least because good quality coaches can produce more athletes!

And I also…

There’s no difference between Tanni Grey-Thompson and Kelly Holmes except one competes sitting down and the other standing up. Both are Dames. Both are highly committed athletes. Both have had marvellous success. In addition, athletes such as Danny Crates who are successful Paralympians train with and compete against able-bodied athletes. So it is logical that we should evolve a system in which our aspiring Paralympians are dealt with no differently from our aspiring Olympians.

Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland Teams for competitions such as the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Race Walking Championships and Ultra-Distance Championships will be funded from sources other than the World Class Performance budget.

None of the above is negotiable. It is what the Government have decided. They give us in Performance money for athletes capable of reaching the Olympic podium or top eight, and that is it. That is what we have to concentrate on.

It means that there might be no Performance support for the best athletes in this country in an event. There might be no support for an athlete who is No.1 in an event in this country and continues to improve but not sufficiently to suggest he / she is capable of reaching the Olympic podium / top eight. What does an athlete in this situation have to do? Run faster, jump longer, throw further, jump higher.

Hopefully, that will not make anyone give up athletics. I played sport all my life because I enjoyed it not because of the financial rewards I might or might not find in a rugby boot at the end of a match.

Neither, hopefully, will it mean that all of a sudden people will stop trying to be international athletes. There will still be a lot of support along the line for athletes to achieve that.

But let me use the examples of two other sports to explain how sharp focus earns rewards both at the Olympics and from the Government funders…

Cycling decided a few years ago to throw most of their effort into track racing. They did it very well. Now they have been really successful, they get more rewards. So they can expand their Performance efforts into other disciplines such as mountain biking, BMX … whereas I suggest that if they had spread the money through all the disciplines of their sport a few years ago, they would not have done well, as we did.

Canoeing, similarly, decided to concentrate on its Olympic disciplines (sprint and slalom) even though it had had some success in other disciplines such as marathon racing and one guy in particular called Richard Fox who could win races if you armed him with a saucepan and put him in a barge. Indeed, the British Canoe Union installed their office for sprint and slalom on the opposite side of the river to their offices for the other disciplines. I ask their Performance Director if he walks across the water between the two but however he travels, the tactic has worked for that sport.

Given that we all want athletics to be a successful sport, and given that this is how success has been successfully pursued, you can hopefully understand why we are taking this route.

We have been given the target of five medals and 80 place points in Beijing. To achieve, we have to put people in finals. If we don’t, we become a very hard-up sport. If we exceed the target, we get more resources. How can athletes help us in this respect? Run faster, jump longer, throw further, jump higher.

Slide 4 – Some Perceptions

It does not really matter whether people within the sport believe we are all pulling together or not. The Government perceive athletics to be a divided sport so we have to change that perception if we wish to be better thought-of.

But it’s the disjoin between coaches that worries me most. The fact that we hear coaching centres referred to as poaching centres is not indicative that everybody is pulling together.

It’s a given that event groups are different. An endurance runner can compete all year – on track, on road, in cross country with fell, mountain and ultra running thrown in for good measure. Sprinters have just two opportunities, outdoor and indoor.

It’s also a given that we have athletes who are more world class in some events than others. We have world class coaches, but I don’t think we have them in all disciplines.

Coaches seem to behave differently in different disciplines. At meetings, I see what I call the three witches – John Herbert, Ted King and Aston Moore – huddled together around the jumps take-off board obviously discussing each other’s athletes. In certain disciplines, coaches seem to have difficulty communicating with each other; it’s as if each has one of those old magnets that repel other coaches at five paces and I sometimes think if three of them found themselves in the same room, it would exceed critical mass and blow up.

I’m well acquainted with egos, having attended quite a few rugby union dinners in my time. And I have to say that since I became UKA Performance Director, I have had no shortage of advice, some of which is anatomically possible. The message I get is that everybody knows best.

In this vein, coaches frequently prod for athletes who are with other coaches. When there was a recent tiff because an athlete decided to move from one coach to another, coaches were writing in to magazines like AW and Viz calling me all the names under the sun for making the athlete move – which I didn’t – yet some of the same coaches had been writing to me in previous weeks saying: ‘Give me athlete so-and-so and I’ll make him so much better.’

Wouldn’t it be better if we all worked openly together rather than in Chinese whispers? After all, nobody knows everything except my Missus. And I know that because she told me.

At least, it’s no secret what athletes have to do to climb up the Pathway. Run faster, jump longer, throw further, jump higher.

Slide 5 – Some guiding principles

Given what I’ve just said, these should be self-explanatory.

Athletics simply must have a pathway from the classroom to the podium, and the ability to reinforce coaches.

We have to show we can all move in the same direction – and pretty damn quick.

As Performance Director, I have to behave like a banker with the sport’s money. I have to invest in the best cases of athletes getting better on the way up towards the podium and top eight. There will be equity of investment through the sport – through UKA, England Athletics and the regions, plus Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – but it is my task to invest in those most likely to succeed in Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

So far as egos are concerned, I have no problem with people phoning me and saying, ‘There is a better way.’ In fact, the more constructive advice I receive, the better. Let’s try and find new ways of making our athletes more successful. Let’s talk about it!

The Senior Performance Managers and Performance Managers are not going to be going around athletes’ training sessions with clipboards ticking off what they’re doing right and marking down what they’re not doing so right. They are servants of the sport. They are there to help the athlete improve and to help the coach find ways of helping the athlete improve.

At the moment, the fact is that there are athletes on funding who have gone slower year on year for the last three years. Why hasn’t something been done? Why hasn’t someone asked? If I was the coach, I would have asked myself, ‘Am I doing everything right?’ If I was the athlete, I would have asked myself, ‘Am I doing everything I can?’ If I was an administrator involved with the athlete and coach, I would have asked myself, ‘Am I doing all I can?’ Because someone must be doing something not right for the athlete to be going slower for three successive years. I come in and ask, ‘What are going to do next year?’ The athlete says, ‘Same thing.’ I say, ‘No you’re not!’

But if there is a problem – with an athlete, with a coach or with an administrator – they will hear it from me, not from a whispering campaign or from a letter to a magazine or a newspaper.

And I hope if athletes or coaches or administrators have a problem, they will come to me rather than conduct a whispering campaign or write a letter to a magazine or newspaper.

After all, we are all seeking the same results with the same athletes. Run faster, jump longer, throw further, jump higher.

Slide 6 – And Three System Principles

WHO is more important…

If that promising young endurance runner Paula comes to me and says, ‘I’ve got a new training plan; I’m going to go to Albuquerque for three months and eat cream cakes’, I’m probably going to say, ‘Are you sure?’ But I’ll let her go and do it; and when she wins another medal, everybody will go on the cream cakes training regime. If a highly promising 15-year-old and her new coach come to me and say, ‘I’m going to train on cream cakes for three months’, I will say, ‘No you’re not!’ In other words, athletes who have a proven record will be given more leeway than athletes who do not have a proven record; I think that’s fair.

But at the same time I have to find an equitable method of measuring the progress of athletes in vastly different disciplines. The example I have been using around the country is, how do you compare Ricky Soos, the 800m runner, with Shirley Webb the hammer thrower? Both went to the Athens Olympics but there the similarity pretty much ends.

I also need to see how good a coach is, because a good coach is one who raises an athlete’s standards year on year. It’s acceptable to flat-line year on year if the athlete is already an Olympic or World Champion but, below that, we need to see improvement year on year.

So we need a standardised system that enables me to identify the good coaches – and to identify what help the not so good coaches need to make them good coaches.

This is why we are asking all World Class Performance athletes to fill in the following…

The Athlete Performance Template (APT)

A standardised format for evaluating the performance and/or potential of athletes is essential for a number of reasons. With an accurate and valid method, we achieve the following:
• EVALUATION: A means of evaluating athletes, in order that funding and other support decisions can be made more objectively.
• DEVELOPMENT: A means of identifying weak areas in the profile, in order that support and development may be optimally focussed.
• REWARD: A means of evaluating progress, in order that support professionals’ and, most crucially, coaches’ contributions can be assessed. Genuine systems of reward/recognition against development/sanction are enabled.

In short, most of our aims are supported and progressed by developing and coherently deploying such a methodology.

For all factors, we must make every effort to make the ratings as objective and ‘clean’ as possible. Recognise that scores may be subject to quasi-legal (or even fully legal) appeal processes. Scores and rationale are clearly and openly discussed with the athlete and coach, so objectivity is key. Interpersonal concerns MUST NOT prevent the consideration and comprehensive address of difficult but crucial issues, especially in developing athletes. The longer an issue is left un-addressed, the harder it is to change and the greater its impact on performance.

Increased validity/objectivity should be achieved in a number of ways including:
• Use of additional input from appropriate specialists or informed others.
• Providing a clear rationale for all scores.
• Appending relevant evidence to the document.
• Relating scores and rationale to previous years’ comment

This version is intended for use with WC-Performance athletes, plus those ‘accelerated promotion’ athletes from the WC-Development ranks. Assessments take place annually, and are completed by the relevant SPM with extra input as required. These form the basis of performance review meetings between athlete and coach/SPM and PD, which decide on both levels of resource, annual and Olympic cycle goals, specific support needs and the season plan.


… and we are asking all World Class Potential athletes (in old terminology) to fill in the following…

The Athlete Performance Potential Template (APPT)

A standardised format for evaluating the performance potential of athletes is essential for a number of reasons. With an accurate and valid method, we achieve the following:
• EVALUATION: A means of evaluating athletes, in order that funding and other support decisions can be made more objectively.
• DEVELOPMENT: A means of identifying weak areas in the profile, in order that support and development may be optimally focussed.
• REWARD: A means of evaluating progress, in order that support professionals’ and, most crucially, coaches’ contributions can be assessed. Genuine systems of reward/recognition against development/sanction are enabled.

In short, most of our aims are supported and progressed by developing and coherently deploying such a methodology.

For all factors, make every effort to make the ratings as objective and ‘clean’ as possible. Recognise that scores may be subject to quasi-legal (or even fully legal) appeal processes. Scores and rationale are clearly and openly discussed with the athlete and coach, so objectivity is key. Interpersonal concerns MUST NOT prevent the consideration and comprehensive address of difficult but crucial issues, especially in developing athletes. The longer an issue is left un-addressed, the harder it is to change and the greater its impact on performance.

Increased validity/objectivity should be achieved in a number of ways including:
• Use of additional input from appropriate specialists or informed others.
• Providing a clear rationale for all scores.
• Appending relevant evidence to the document.
• Relating scores and rationale to previous years’ comment

This version is intended for use with WC-Development athletes. Assessments will take place annually, and are completed by the relevant PM with extra input as required. These should form the basis of performance review meetings between athlete and coach/PM (and, if necessary, PD), which decide on both levels of resource, annual and Olympic cycle goals, specific support needs and the season plan.


WHAT we will not do…

We will not be giving top marks to athletes who mark themselves 10 out of 10 in every box. We will not be adding up scores and giving places on the Pathway to the top few.

We are looking for athletes to make an efficient judgement of themselves. This information, along with discussions we have with our staff and with the athletes’ personal coaches, will help us to make our own efficient judgements about what things each athlete most needs to work on during the next year. If things are going wrong, we need to find out why and turn it around.

On the question of rewarding people who improve athletes, I know there are knockers of the standard method of identifying successful coaches. But I do not see a dearth of good coaches in Britain in all events; and I would like to recognise and reward those who are upwardly mobile.

If I get into a situation where I feel I should suggest to an athlete that he should move, the coach and the athlete will be the first to know. And they will know at least a year before any move takes place because we would be telling them that something has to change if their partnership is to work. This change may take the form of the coach being mentored, or going abroad to gain more experience of a certain aspect of an athlete’s needs.

But I emphasise again – we are here to help athletes and their coaches. There is no point in us upsetting coaches or driving them away from the sport because they are the people best placed to make good athletes – and to make more good athletes. And the more good athletes we have, the happier I will be if they run faster, jump longer, throw further, jump higher.

Slide 7 – The Challenge of being Excellent

WHO has the toughest task?

I use this simply to illustrate that everybody thinks they have the hardest job in the world. In fact, there are a number of individuals who contribute to the success of an athlete – mummy, daddy, teacher and coach at least.

How many more depends on the specific needs of each individual athlete, something that should be reviewed as an on-going process.

Slide 8 - So what would I like to see?

WHY we must change and exchange ideas…

All the best coaches I’ve known while playing rugby union and getting myself knocked about in judo pinch ideas. They pinch them from coaches who are above them. They pinch from coaches who are alongside them. They even pinch ideas from coaches who are below them in the sport’s hierarchy. Because everybody does something right.

Yet in the short time I have been Performance Director at UKA, I have asked at least four well-known coaches: “What can I do for you? Where can I send you around the world to help you improve the help you give your athlete(s)?” “Nowhere,” they replied. “I know all I need to know.” They are brain-dead! How are they going to get better if they have closed their minds? How can they help their athlete(s) get better if they are not prepared to improve their knowledge?

There were certain athletes at the summer’s World Championships in Helsinki who, when I looked in their eyes, reminded me of a startled rabbit caught in the headlights. I recognise what a tough challenge it was for them; in my more modest days in rugby and judo, I took many more beatings than I gave out but I always came off the pitch or the mat with my pride intact.

I want athletes who give it a go.

Lie down and die? No!

PB at a major championship? Yes please!!

And we administrators have to change, too. Unless we try new things, we are not going to change the sport. One thing’s for sure, so far as the Government is concerned – if we stay as we are, we are going to be an extremely hard-up sport.

We simply have to get athletes to run faster, jump longer, throw further, jump higher.

Slide 9 - And what do the athletes need?

WHAT do the athletes need?

I spotted these inter-linked rings on a Coca-Cola can and thought it made a perfect illustration of the complex needs of an athlete. To get to the top, he / she needs many different things, in different degrees, at different times in his / her progression from playground to podium.

I don’t mean to keep harping-on about those coaches who told me they knew everything but, with every respect, they only guy I know who is first-class in all those five basics has a big S on his chest and wears his underpants outside his tights. And Superman wasn’t part of the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland Team’s support squad the last time I looked.

This is why increasingly the top athletes will be coached by teams of people. If we were in cycling, everyone good enough to be on World Class Performance would be moved to Manchester and would be told who would be coaching them, who would be doing their strength and conditioning work, how they had to change their lifestyle, etc, etc.

The fact is that we are in athletics and that approach would not work for athletes. I prefer to work with people who are willing to seek and take on board new ideas; who are prepared to challenge themselves.

For example, what’s a realistic training load for a 14-year-old endurance runner? I don’t know because I’m new to the sport but many of the answers I’ve been getting suggest four sessions a week, each of about an hour. Yet an 11-year-old gymnast trains for five hours a day. Ah, you retort, but gymnasts peak sooner than athletes. Do they really? We’re getting 19- and 20-year-olds winning World and Olympic medals these days in athletics. I’m not saying gymnastics has got it right. Neither am I saying we’ve got it wrong. I’m saying we don’t know.

Maybe we’ve got to work the younger athletes harder. Maybe we’ve got to work them smarter.

I am told that if we don’t work them at the right rate through the age groups, then as soon as they have to up their training as seniors they fall over with injuries or illnesses. That may indicate there is a need for more attention to strength and conditioning at an earlier age. Maybe. It’s another area to explore.

In other words, there is a whole range of different things that are needed to help an athlete to get to the top – which is where we must get more of them if this sport is to thrive. What do they have to do? You know by now. Run faster, jump longer, throw further, jump higher.

Slide 10 - The Performance Pathway

WHO can reach the Performance Pathway…

It might take an athlete 10 years to climb the Performance Pathway to the top; it might take two. It depends on the discipline as much as the athlete. For example, there are athletes in Disability who have reached the top within a couple of years of appearing in the system; others need to progress for longer than that.

Athletes as young as 14 and 15 will be welcomed on the Pathway, provided we consider they have the potential to become podium / top eight in due course. That is not to say people who emerge at later stages will be ignored: we can’t afford to miss anyone of genuine world class! We certainly don’t intend to be ageist. If you’re still an up and coming sprinter at the age of 25, you’ve probably missed it; but if you are an up and coming endurance runner at the age of 26, you may still have a chance of making the podium / top eight so we would welcome you on the Pathway.

To stay on, athletes will be required to show firm evidence year on year on year of progress towards the podium / top eight. To help them do that, we will provide them with all the advice, assistance and expertise that we can find. And there will be personalised funding levels, tailored to meet the requirements of the individual.

If you picture the Pathway as a pyramid, stretching from the playground to the podium, this is how I envisage the top three notches will be populated…

WHAT the will structure look like…


The numbers in the illustration above are for only diagrammatic purposes.

The sole purpose is to demonstrate how we are establishing a seamless Pathway in which the promising athletes are picked up and passed from person to person to person whose task is to make sure they are getting the best possible services.

The major quality we seek in return is that the athlete remains upwardly mobile and on course to get to the podium / top eight.

HOW many are really world class?

World Class Performance: UK Athletics will have funding for 40 athletes who we consider to be capable of going to Beijing in 2008 and doing one of three things – 1) reach the podium; 2) finish in the top eight; 3) use the experience well and have a realistic shot at reaching the podium at London 2012.

Initially when the sport received Lottery funding, there were 247 athletes on the World Class Programme. With the best will in the world, can anyone remember a time when the UK genuinely had that many world class athletes?

While the funding for next year will be for 40, if we decide we have only, say, 38 athletes in these categories, there will be 38 on World Class Performance; if we decide we have, say, 43, then I will beg, steal and borrow the funding for the extra athletes. It is not our remit or intention to rigidly enforce regulations; it is our intention to encourage as much talent as we can find.

Those athletes and their personal coaches will be supported by the UKA Senior Performance Managers – John Trower in speed events, Alan Storey in endurance and Aston Moore in field. They will not be like time and motion men looking down on you, ticking boxes as you train. They will be supporting you, acting as sounding boards, offering advice, finding solutions for difficulties you may face.

In addition, there will be Senior Performance Coaches. They will be working part-time as relay coaches because all the indications are that our best hopes of medals in Beijing lie in relays. They will be working part-time with serious podium hopes. In some cases, they will be personal coaches who we are paying to go to training camps, etc.

Those appointed so far are Malcolm Arnold (sprints), Todd Bennett (relay), Harry King (relay), Ted King (jumps), Tony Lester (sprints and relay), Mike McFarlane (relay), Mark Rowland (endurance) and Roger Walters (relay).

I wonder how many there will be in a year or two’s time, leading athletes who run faster, jump longer, throw further, jump higher.

Slide 11 – The Performance Coach Role

World Class Development: there will be 80/85 at this level (compared with 125 from England who were on the old World Class Potential Programme last year). This figure has been arrived at because we believe we need that number to maintain a group of 40 at Performance level.

If more people show the potential to go to the podium, nobody will be happier than me to go to get more funding. But it’s up to the athletes to make that happen – to demonstrate that they have the potential, that they deserve the support, that they can really get to the podium in Beijing or, more realistically given the time scale, London.

Our conversion rate has not been great so far. We have supported more than 400 athletes on World Class Potential over the years. So far, too few have reached the required standard – podium or top eight.

That is not a great success rate. If this was an investment bank, it would not be an acceptable return. Neither, I suggest, is it an acceptable use of money provided, via Lottery funding, by people like you and me who buy a ticket hoping that, if they don’t win a million or two, they help somebody to win a medal or two.

So the matrix standards will return to what they were intended to be: a guideline, a starting point. Once the matrix standard has helped an athlete to get onto the Pathway, we will expect them not to bounce along just above the standard year on year on year but to continue to improve towards the podium / top eight.

Slide 12 - The Performance Manager Role

UK Athletics Performance Managers will focus entirely on helping these athletes improve and helping these athletes’ personal coaches to find the expertise required. The PMs are Matt Favier in London, Simon Nathan in the West Midlands and North West of England, Steve Rippon in the East Midlands, Yorkshire and North East of England, and Martin Rush in the South of England.

Performance Coaches will be added as they show they have the capacity to operate at the required level.

I don’t want this to sound like a trick question, but … How many athletes can a world class coach coach? I suggest the answer is, ‘Not many.’

I think we have world class coaches in some events. We can place other coaches to learn from them. That way, we create more world class coaches. And the chances are good that they would create more world class athletes, which is what we are after.

In other events, I am not so sure that we have world class coaches. Is the solution to bring in foreign coaches? Lord Coe was reported as saying so. But with the greatest respect, I do not think that is the answer.

One reason is that it would tick-off loads of good UK coaches.

Another reason is that foreign coaches would bring in their own methods; their own ideas on such vital issues as nutrition, which might not suit the British environment.

And finally this is a UK system. I would prefer us to build the capacity of British coaches in the British system.

But what we must build is a Performance culture … run faster, jump longer, throw further, jump higher.

Slide 13 - The TDM Role

WHERE World Class will start…

Talent ID and Recruitment: there will be around 30 on what amounts to a foundation course for World Class Development and World Class Performance. There are at least two good reasons for this.

There is no shortage of talent in the UK. We proved that again this summer with successes at the IAAF World Youth Championships and the European Junior (and Under 23) Championships. But history suggests we are not taking athletes through to the top in the quantity that we should have.

Too many drop-out. A small country like ours cannot afford to lose potential world class talent in what is an increasingly competitive sport. You will have noticed that 20-year-olds are winning World and Olympic medals now; that is the climate in which we have to seek to succeed.

We also have several instances of teenagers not being able to cope with the physical demands of increasing their training loads sufficiently to succeed as seniors. Which is why I tried to stimulate thought about teenage training loads earlier.

So the roles of the soon-to-be-appointed Talent Development Managers will be crucial. They will liase with the spheres of the pyramid operated below World Class by the UKA Director of Athlete Development and the HCAFs. They will visit schools to ensure teachers are aware of any pre-elite athletes in their midst. They will visit parents, as well as teachers, to offer advice on lifestyle issues that would be beneficial to the development of the young potentially successful athlete – in much the same way that professional football club scouts have operated for decades.

If there are drop-outs among the pre-elite, the TDMs will chase them up. We can all think of successful teenagers from the last decade who disappeared from the sport. We ask: “Whatever happened to so-and-so?” And nobody knows. That should not happen. And it will not happen when the TDMs are operating.

There’s another area in which they can probably operate profitably, too. We all know of teenagers who were promising at athletics but chose to chase the bigger rewards on offer in other sports such as football. I would like to think that we follow the fortunes of these young people and, if they don’t make it at their first-choice sport, we are there to offer them a chance in athletics.

After all, other sports seem to be very adept at nicking quality off us. Why shouldn’t we be more aggressive in our recruitment policies? I’ll consider anybody who has talent and a determination to run faster, jump longer, throw further, jump higher!

Slide 14 - We enhance the performance focus by…

WHAT we’ll do for each other…

Here’s a promise to all the athletes on the Performance Pathway: “I will not talk about you behind your back. I will talk to you whenever there is any need for improvement, explanation or discussion. You will not hear what I think about you in the pages of a magazine or the columns of a newspaper; you will hear directly from me.

“In return, please feel free to phone me or the appropriate member of the UKA Performance Team if you have anything you wish to make us aware of, or you think we can help you. I do not expect to read what you think of us in the pages of a magazine or the columns of a newspaper; I expect to hear directly from you.”

In the same spirit of openness, we will publish on www.ukathletics.net the names of the athletes who are on the three steps of the Performance Pathway. Indeed, we will go further than that and invite the athletes to list the names of the influences who have helped them onto the Pathway … parents, teachers, coaches, whoever they wish to have credit. Because it takes far more than one person to create an elite athlete capable of reaching the podium / top eight at an Olympics these days.

If publicising the names makes other athletes think, ‘I ought to be in there’ - then, good! That’s what sport is all about: ambition, competition, achievement.

We will also be signing an agreement with each athlete on the Pathway. For our part, this will make specific promises to them: for example, that we will make sure they are kitted out for major championships before they set out for them; that we will get their travel right and not expect them to fly at 4am. In return, we will ask the athletes to make sure they train as they say they will; report injuries so that they can receive treatment efficiently; and not disappear from our radar for months on end.

For Pathway athletes who do not have agents, we will find them competition commensurate to their standards and needs if it is not readily available in this country.

In other words, we will do everything we can in our attempts to get athletes to the top … Run faster, jump longer, throw further, jump higher.

Slide 15 - Performance Focus with coaches

In the same way as we will do anything we can to improve athletes, we recognise there is an equal responsibility to enhance their coaches.

There is a general belief that coach education at the elite level is not good enough.

We are investing, thanks to our major sponsors Norwich Union and the WCPP funding from UK Sport, in Developing Elite Coaches – offering them modest bursaries so that they can travel to mentors, probably take time off work so that they can spend more time on helping their athletes and generally broadening their knowledge.

We will be offering jobs to people who are proving they can develop athletes and other coaches. Because I’m sure I’m not the only person to notice that too many of our best coaches are aged on the wrong side of 50.

I’m not ageist (I’m not young enough to be that daft!) but I do worry about where the next generation of elite coaches is coming from. Because, of course, we need more than we have had – and there are more vacancies in some disciplines than in others.

This may be where foreign coaches could be of use to us … as mentors or by coming in for a short time to pass on specifics to UK coaches and athletes. What’s most important is that we do what’s best for UK athletes and UK coaches in each individual case … Run faster, jump longer, throw further, jump higher.

Slide 16 - Performance Focus … competition agenda etc

WHEN and WHERE to compete and train…

We need to discuss with the athletes why we do certain competitions and whether we continue to do them. For example, I would suggest that sprint competitions for Under 23s are not nearly so useful these days as maybe they were before we had so many excellent Under 20 sprinters. As I said earlier, if you are still an up and coming sprinter in your mid-20s, you’ve probably missed the boat … though I’m not about to pull up the gang plank because I remember this sprint boom being kick-started by a certain Mr Christie!

But given that Olympic medals are now being won by 20-year-olds, we might do less Under 23 competition in the future and more international competition at Under 20 and Under 18 levels so that people get used to the challenge of competing at that level at an earlier age. We might; but before we do, we will discuss it with as many interested parties as we can, make an informed decision and then move on for the good of UK athletes.

I can imagine clusters of elite athletes gathering around certain coaches. If these coaches are successful, as we hope they are, we will start increasingly to employ them. This does not mean we will move athletes to the coaches we employ. We are more likely to employ coaches who are working successfully with athletes. And that means athletes who run faster, jump longer, throw further, jump higher.

Slide 17 - Performance Focus – medical support

HOW we’ll look after athletes

Over the last few years, the Institutes of Sport and other agencies have evolved excellent medical support for our Lottery-funded athletes. It has not necessarily been a uniform service across the country: for instance, at one of our High Performance Centres, the bottom 20% of athletes used 50% of the medical budget and I don’t think that’s the best use of investment.

No longer will we give the same services to the stars as we give to the apprentices. Rather than all athletes on funding getting identical support, there will now be three levels of medical support.

The top five to 15 athletes will receive five-star help. They will be our most outstanding medal prospects and we will give them the best treatment available as swiftly as possible. Prevention of injury will be as important as treatment, of course; and the ideal scenario will see a physio actually watching an athlete training, being there from warm-down to warm-up. And if a three- or one-star asks the physio to correct a zongular muscle strain at this time, the physio will be entitled to say, ‘No – wait until I’ve finished this job.’

The three-star service will be about equal to what funded athletes expect and receive at the moment.

The one-star service may be slightly slower, depending on demand, but will be no less skilled than is the case now.

It will go deeper than that, of course. Bearing in mind that different athletes have differing strengths and weaknesses at different stages of their careers and even their years, one athlete might be one-star for medical matters but three-star for physio and five-star for strength and conditioning if we think they need more strength and conditioning.

Because the bottom line is that the only athletes who get into the last eight or climb onto a podium at an Olympic Games are extremely special individuals. So we treat them as individuals all the way along the Performance Pathway.

And we always bear in mind that there are vacancies. How do you get on the Performance Pathway? Run faster, jump longer, throw further, jump higher.

I’m not sure what I think of dropping under 23 comp. Perhaps in its stead, a full B team comp series. So A, B, and under 20. It’s expensive but needed overall.

Also the comment about not being able to cope with the necessary training loads moving from junior is ass-backwards. There is no such thing as not being able to handle the APPROPRIATE training load. If you can’t handle it- it isn’t appropriate and shouldn’t be given in the first place.
Medical support needs to be defined. Is that for injuries? (I think it probably is if the bottom athletes are using the most resources). More attention must be directed at therapy/prevention. The most organized system ever- East Germany- reached a point where the vast majority of their medical attention was directed towards regeneration, as their injury rate dropped dramatically. This implies both better therapy AND better coaching (not giving theoretical workloads that cannot be sustained by the real end user)

If you want better coaching, you need to combine theory with practice. That means training camps in warm weather, where coaches, with their athletes, can be supported in the field and can learn from what they see done by the more successful groups.
What does he mean when he says: “When we think they need more strength and conditioning.”? Who’s is “We”? Is this coaching by committee?

Great point from Collins!! It is surprising how many coaches there are out there who know it all, yet their athletes do not perform on the World Stage. Arr it’s the athlete’s fault they do not adhere to my program…

I thought you’d like this topic :smiley: !

And why do you think the bottom 20% have so many injuries? Remember they are all based at “performance centres” where full time strength coaches and performance coaches/managers are based. Its because these people try and use the most hi tech methods of training with athletes that arn’t conditioned to take it (so Dave is right in this instance but again wrong at the same time). Some are basically very tallented recreational athletes who couldn’t handle 10x100 with 20 sit ups and 10 push ups yet are being asked to perform cleans (without the right technique in place), jump squats and endless specific one legged jumping and functional stability drills - all ontop of thier normal training (not integrated into it).

As for support services, while they work with world class athletes they generally come from a “fixing ill people” background. In one performance centre i could only find 1 massage therapist out of 7 who understood that their aim should be to get the job done without irritating the athlete (I now use him all the time). The other 6 went straight to the IT band and battered it to within an inch of its life.

As for regeneration. Although they like ice baths, the sauna/wirlpool are off limits (not scientific enough) and even massage is supposed to boarderline quackery.

As you said before, its not that they are weaker on one side or the other its because thier training (and in this case therapy integration) is wrong.

The services are there its just the perspective that is wrong because the therapists etc havn’t spent time with any really excellent coaches (perhaps because the UK doesn’t have enough to go around or because the ones that are good are missing this part of their education) and vice versa.

Re services reminds me of kwik fit or McDonalds. You arrive tell them what the problem is then they “patch” you up and your on your way.

This is something that my coach emphasises all the time. I have seen massive improvements with the quality of my sessions when the correct regeneration method is in place. This in turn saves me from having to visit the Physio and saves me money :D. Ice baths,Epsom salt baths,contrast treatment etc comes as standard in my daily regen. regieme. Also an important thing that I remember Charlie saying on one of the DVD’s was that the post training cool down and stretch is important and gives the athlete a four hour window in terms of regeneration (don’t quote me word for word on that).

In the UK regeneration is frowned upon. Most sprinters here idea of regen is playing Pro Evo on the PSP.

I would still like to see some sort of funding/support given for atheletes like myself who are in their late 20’s that have shown consistent improvements in performances. Even if it was something as ‘small’ as free medical.

Props to Matt Favier(London)…he’s very approachable,friendly and supportive.

In response to the Physios - We have some excellent physio’s and massusses in UKA…the only problem is that they do such a good job they end up getting poached by big spending football clubs. This is something that needs to be looked at drastically! We need to retain these top guys!

One of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games national team coaches for Great Britain was Kelvin Giles. He has put together a superbly structured, video-illustrated (before and after) sequential training program which hits something like 25 performance threads.

The work evolves from simple to complex, slow to fast and is a holistic approach to developing the complete athlete from child to adult. It’s basically an exercise syllabus. I attended a presentation early last year and was profoundly impressed.

From the info in quotes (above), it sounds like the Brits could really use his advice - and they’re not alone. I know Kelvin checks into this forum from time to time but never posts. If I had his website, I’d link to it but I can’t find it, even in Google. Anyway yet another example of a brilliant Brit abroad, almost lost to track and field and pounced on by football codes. kk :slight_smile:

Thanks to tc :cool: for finding this site link