After a successful indoor period for sprinters in Wales;
Hannah Brier (Steve Fudge) setting a new Welsh U20 60m record while winning the Welsh U20, UK U20 & British University titles. Amelia Reynolds (Dave Norton) nearly breaking 24 seconds indoors, en route to setting a new Welsh U20 record 24.04. David Omoregie (Benke Blomkvist) setting PB’s over the 60m & 60m Hurdles (going 2nd on the Welsh All-Time list behind Colin Jackson). With countless promising age group performances, Joe Brier (Neal Merry), Moli Jones (Phillip Jones), Melissa Roberts (Matt Elias) all featuring high in their respective UK rankings or setting new Welsh Championship records… Not to mention 11 different Welsh men running sub 7 seconds in the 60m!!
You could be forgiven for thinking Welsh coaches could take some down time and give themselves a pat on the back before the fast approaching outdoor season…. Well this is not the case. During the weekend of 1st & 2nd of April, Welsh Athletics National Performance Centre Coach, Matt Elias, delivered ‘Blocks for development athletes’ workshops in Deeside and Cardiff. Over the weekend, more than 60 coaches, athletes and parents attended these workshops.
The layout of the workshop was broken-up into both theory and practical elements; focusing on the key points of the “On Your Marks” & “Set” positions, specifically for development-level sprinters. During the theory sections there were some great discussions around the common faults seen in athlete set ups, the issues that these could potentially cause and how we as coaches can address them. The practical part of the workshop was a chance for all coaches to reinforce the key points learned during the presentation and implement the correct starting positions.
WA Performance Centre Coach Matt Elias commented on the day;
“In this day and age, with technology and all the information available, it is easy for coaches to look at what the best in the world are doing and try to copy that. But when working with development level athletes it is key to focus on the basic set ups and principles of acceleration when teaching Block Starts. Understanding how these positions and actions should look, and being able to teach and correct them, is vitally important for sprint coaches.
I wanted these workshops to be as interactive as possible; all of the coaches were so engaged and energised during the session it made for a very positive learning environment.
Also, to have so many coaches and athletes in attendance over the weekend is testimony to all the good work being done within the regions and I am hopeful that anything coaches or athletes learned they can spread back out into their clubs.
Below is just some of the feedback during the events:
Lewis Moore (Coach) “I left with a greater understanding of the potential issues caused by not having an appropriate set up, also what to look for as athletes push out of the blocks”
Diane Breeden (Coach) “It was great to hear different ‘cues’ that I can use as a coach, to get the athletes to achieve the desired outcome”
Gary Hunter (Coach) “Having a strong controlled start position is the key for all sprint events, and approaching at it from a development focus is often lacking”
Many athletes came away from the session stating they felt more solid in their starting positions and that they were in a set up that felt powerful and ready to drive out of the blocks.
Welsh Athletics would like to thank all coaches, athlete and parents who attended both events in Deeside and Cardiff.
With such aspirational coaches and athletes it would seem like sprinting could be back on the rise in the build up to 2018 Commonwealth Games.