Coaching, jumps, sprints & more
Everything about jumping and sprinting and how to improve your performance
It’s great coaching jumpers and sprinters. I’ve been doing this for over 15 years and I’ve had quite a bit of success. I’ve coached a European Junior Champion, had athletes go to the European indoor and soon outdoor championships. I have even produced age group British record holders and numerous internationals across all age ranges. I’ve coached athletes onto UKA funding programmes.
On social media - something that’s often neglected by coaches - I’ve close to 60,000 subscribers. My youtube channel gets thousands of views everyday … yet financially I can struggle to do what I appear to be pretty good at!
I’m probably one of the few “professional” coaches in the UK who’s not working for a governing body. Most of us coaches do so for little financial reward.
Yes, I have worked for the England, Welsh, Great Britain and Irish federations (and others), but this work is occasional. I therefore make the majority of my money from the athletes I coach and from my social media (and the odd bit of writing … my most recent “proper” job!).
Athletics is a sport some say that is in decline … yes, compared to when I was an international long jumper in the eighties and nineties the sport has declined in terms of its global presence on sports top table and also at senior level domestically in terms of strength in depth. However, it is still probably after football the most practised sport in the world. Access to running and jumping and to a degree throwing and vaulting does not require huge financial outlay for most and facilities are often to be found.
What’s not to be found in many countries are truly qualified, professional and experienced coaches to coach these athletes. Nearly everyday I get messages from athletes at home and abroad asking me to coach them. Obviously I can’t … and then many will expect this to be for free if I did.
It’s hard to fathom how people can expect athletics’ coaches to work for nothing. And coaching can be work. You have training programmes to write, athletes to manage, coaching sessions to supervise often 2-4 times a day. The requirements go on and on.
Like many coaches in our sport I will often go out of my way to help those I coach. I feel “responsible”. We don’t want to see talent wasted.
Yet, often this is a one way flow. The coach despite being central to the sport often sits on the periphery.
I coach Jahisha Thomas in the UK with Clive Thomas her US based coach. Jahisha recently got selected for the European Championships in Munich this August.
This is great and I’m proud to have contributed to her development. However, when asked if I could go and support her I got anxious. Stressed, as I will have to find the money to go to Germany myself. And I don’t have the £1000 that’s needed to get there.
There is no funding to help coaches go and even when (and if) there I’ll have to buy tickets to the arena in hope that I can help her. The latter factors are understood, British Athletics can’t have accreditation for 100 odd coaches (due to team size).
However, perhaps support via other mechanisms should be in place. Perhaps there should be a fund set up to help coaches get to championships … grants perhaps. Something and not nothing.
However, there is a fundamental further issue here. We have a professional sport at the elite level that relies largely on amateur coaches at this and all other levels. The “do it for nothing” cohort of coaches of my generation won’t be around forever and younger coaches won’t enter the “profession” if they can’t support themselves.
I feel awkward, odd, worried writing this… however, perhaps the hidden (majority) voice should not remain so. There are many coaches who moan particularly about the establishment and the “poaching” of athletes. I’m not one of them … that’s a rather stuck record.
Rather I want athletics coaches to be valued to be able to do what they are good at for a living wage. We can’t just think - as many old school coaches do - that charging for our services is wrong.
I’m actually guilty here to a degree … I have undervalued myself. How do I know? People have offered me more than I have wanted to charge them and have suggested that I need to if not charge the big bucks at least truly value what a lifetime of knowledge and success has provided me with. (My accountant will be happy I’ve come to this realisation albeit a little late!).
One last point: I do coach thousands for free via my social media. At athletics meetings invariably I now get recognised and thanked for the work I do. This also happens virtually from messages received on-line from home and abroad. There is a dearth of accessible on-line coaching material for coaches working at the “real” level of our sport - club and below elite level. What’s the point of knowing how an elite athlete trains and how they improved by a tenth, for example, when a club coach wants to know how to teach a sprinter with no training how to run efficiently! It’s not just athletes who reach out to me for help.
If you’d like to help me get to Munich then follow this link: