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Coaching conference a big hit


25/10/2019 00:00, In Blog /

On Sunday 20th October 75 parents, athletes, coaches and practitioners came to together to share in the start of a new journey for our Welsh Athletics community. Setting the scene for the new 7-year strategy in our sport and celebrating a one-team approach to growing and developing the sport of athletics and supporting our members in developing of a life long love for being physically active.


The theme of the Conference was “Coaching the person in front of you”, with a view to long term athlete development. As a collective, we explored the challenges of retaining athletes in our sport and reviewed data drawn from both welsh and English athlete populace. Common themes in this data highlighted the importance of the club/training environments and coach interactions that athletes experience. It was clear that across the board athletes want:

  • to have fun
  • access to relevant opportunities to progress  & compete
  • to train in a comfortable friendly environment


Kelly Sotherton gave us an insight into her journey as an athlete. She discussed the opportunities and skills the sport and her coaches afforded throughout her career, demonstrating the influence that the Athletics and its moving parts can have on the development of a person on and off the track.


Kelly went on to reflect how being a great athlete did not necessarily make her a great coach. She acknowledged she had a lot of the skills for programming and understood the technical demands of the event disciplines drawn from being an athlete, however coaching an athlete with a different personality, motivations, knowledge, skills and ability to her own at times presented barriers to an optimal coach-athlete relationship.


Kelly admitted, “I had to stop coaching myself”.

The afternoon sessions built upon this theme of working with a developing athlete and coaching the person in front of you, with sessions from Femi Akinsanya, Chris Bramah, Ryan Freckleton and Laura Kerr across event groups. These were complemented by workshops on Athlete identity, Creating effective training environment, exploring the world of physical literacy and problem-solving athletic movement.


The day was rounded off by a panel session led by Ben Pullen a PhD Student from Cardiff Met. The panel discussion was based on what is physical literacy and what is the psychosocial impact for young people at different stages of maturation. It highlighted the need to understand when and how to accommodate and support development,  both when physically loading an athlete, but also the taking into account the psychological implications for an athlete and helping managing their expectations and making them aware that everyone develops at different times and rates.


Overall the day was a great success with lots of honest reflection on our athlete climate, whilst building skills and knowledge, and exploring how we can work together to grow and develop Athletics moving forward. A big thank you to everyone who attended; parents, coaches, practitioners, and athletes, we would not have a sport without you.


"Congratulations on a fantastic year of progress and achievements....2020 here we come!"

Presentations from the conference are available to view here