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The state of British athletics

November 24th, 2014 Posted by Coach's Corner No Comment yet

We have been spoilt for choice with the amount of sporting events taking place this summer. Yet after the disappointment of the World Cup, Andy Murray losing his Wimbledon crown and Chris Froome crashing out of the Tour de France, it really has been a summer to forget for British sport.

So with the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow fast approaching, is the state of British athletics any healthier? Who are our future stars, are the facilities up to scratch and are there enough opportunities for children to get involved in the sport?

“The positive thing is there are a lot more youngsters participating in athletics,” says Toni.

“This could have something to do with the success of London 2012. In Sheffield alone I have seen participation triple. I have also noticed more 6-11 year olds showing an interest in athletics. But it is about catering for the demand.”

The London Olympics might have raised the profile of athletics in the UK, but it is important to have the facilities in place to help cope with the increase in popularity.

“There are never enough facilities really,” says Toni. “You could always do with more and of better quality. I’ve been to many facilities which I think are outdated or they could do with a longer stand or indoor facilities. Sometimes it is still be difficult to find an indoor space where you can warm up during a championship. It doesn’t have to be massive, just a space to do some alternative work to prepare for the event.”

An inspiring coach can help make training fun, keep children interested and allow them to unlock their true potential. But coaches also need support so they can continue to progress and gain experience.

“There are not enough coaches to deal with demand in my opinion. The ideal group size for training is around 14-15 people and I see coaches working with well in advance of that. There also needs to be better education and more of a professional route for coaches. I don’t really think the coaching education programme is up to standard and there needs to be improvements at all levels of coaching.”

Next on the sporting horizon is the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and all eyes will be on Team GB’s rising stars to see who will grab the headlines.

“I think the standout star is Katarina Johnson-Thompson. The things she has done in the high jump and long jump are phenomenal. She is the real deal. I think she is the favourite for the heptathlon and already ranked number 1 so she is destined for good things.

“We also have a lot of exciting talent coming through in the sprint. Dina Asher-Smith has been outstanding in the Junior Championships and the things she has achieved at such a young age are amazing.”

Toni’s top tip – Diet

No matter how well you train, the fact is you can’t win them all. Yet it is important you take just as much out of a defeat as you do victory to help you progress as an athlete.

“After a defeat you need to take time to reflect on what has happened,” says Toni. “It’s like a gap analysis. You take a step back and consider what you wanted to happen and what actually happened. Then try to see the differences between the two and identify the changes you need to make.

“It is important to reflect on a race logically and not emotionally. After a defeat many people can be angry or frustrated, but you need to distance yourself from your emotions to see how you can improve. A defeat is a great opportunity to learn.”

Follow Toni on twitter @Coach_Toni 


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