Athletic Development in the Community: A 6-Step Approach
In this article, Ian Jones, Coaching & Athletic Development Manager with Setanta College, discusses six steps to implementing athletic development in the community.
The Benefits of Athletic Development in the Community
Until recently, many have associated the implementation of an Athletic Development programme with professional and elite-level sports. However, the benefits of a holistic, well-designed model of Athletic Development in the community are many. The three key areas we see benefits in are health, well-being, and performance, which in turn improves both participation and performance in sport.
In terms of sports performance, we hope to build strong, powerful, robust, and durable players who can execute the demands and skills of the game repeatedly at a high physical level for years on end while mitigating injury risk.
Health and well-being are also key drivers to make sure Athletic Development in the community is taking place. Improvements in health and well-being are achieved through implementing Athletic Development in the community by improving basic function and movement patterns, addressing the ever-increasing sedentary lifestyle by increasing activity levels, and providing long-term movement and health education that can be utilized in everyday life for years to come.
True success is achieved when the athletic development program is totally aligned with the overall goals of the organization. Long-term planning, which spans several years rather than weeks, should be implemented, and the coaching and games programming should be supported by the athletic development program. A holistic approach to player development, including technical, tactical, psycho-social, and physical areas, should be taken.
You cannot do this alone. The lead coach may be pivotal in implementing athletic development programs and training itself, but there are multiple stakeholders needed to get the show on the road and keep it progressing. Managers, physios, parents, administrators, and fundraisers will all make long-term implementation possible through organization, scheduling, and support. Different people bring different skill sets to the table, and it is not all about the training sessions themselves. You may need to invest in external expertise to aid in reviews, auditing, and guiding objective decision-making.
Use every space you have at your facility/grounds. Halls, dressing rooms, pitches, car parks, hills, etc., go a long way! While your overall long-term plan should include infrastructure and appropriate pitch and weight room facilities, training can happen anywhere. SPACE IS KING! Find out about the skillsets that those in your community possess. Parents and mentors may be highly skilled in other areas that can contribute to the program. Physios, teachers, dietitians, and lecturers in physical education can assist and contribute to content and support.
Continuous improvement is a must for all involved. This means you as the athletic development coach must consistently partake in professional development to ensure the most appropriate, relevant training is taking place. The players involved will need consistent education in health, lifestyle, and well-being to develop the necessary knowledge and skillsets to maximize their health and athletic potential. Parents, coaches, administrators, and mentors will need regular updates on the program’s progress, what has gone well, what can be improved, and what the benefits are! Even in 2023, there are many misconceptions out there about what Athletic Development is and does. Periodic parent/mentor evenings are a good way to invite interested parties to present specific topics or have a general Q&A.
Keep the training itself simple. The hedgehog approach; an inch wide and a mile deep. Become competent at a few solid movements and exercises in all the different areas of physical development. Decide, in terms of movement competency, speed, strength, power, and conditioning, what is most important for your environment and really dig into consistently attacking these. Over time, slowly add a bigger range to your program, and piece by piece, it will all come together.
Take lots of pictures and videos of where things started and how they developed. Once the players get deeper into the program, begin to share their progress over the long term with them. Keep a notebook of meetings, session previews, and reviews for reflection. In years to come, you will look back on these, and they will contain many nuggets for you and others to use. Share with others; promoting athletic development across your environment and other environments is beneficial in terms of everyone’s activity levels, health, and physical fitness.
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RYPT provides coaches with a digital channel to connect with their clients and athletes and bespoke tools to build, and deliver individualized training programs and monitor exercise, training load, well-being, and nutrition data. Giving coaches the full picture of their client’s and athlete’s performance, and the insights they need to make data-led decisions to optimize performance, prevent overtraining and injury, and improve results. The RYPT coaching platform is supported by eCommerce functionality with powerful automation to help coaches monetize their expertise by reaching more remote clients.
About the author
Ian Jones is an experienced practitioner with 15 years of experience in the field of Sports Performance. Ian has worked across multiple sports & organizations that includes training teams & individuals at the youth, club, collegiate, professional, international & Olympic level and is currently Coaching & Athletic Development Manager with Setanta College.
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