Monday, 9 December 2013

Elite coaches gain academic awards

A host of professional coaches swapped their tracksuit for a cap and gown as they graduated from UCLan. Elite hockey, table tennis and rugby league coaches were among 1,500 students who took to the stage to receive their academic awards in Preston's Guild Hall.

The 13 specialists have spent the past two years combining their full-time careers with studying for the United Kingdom Coaching Certificate (UKCC) Level 4 Postgraduate Diploma in Elite Coaching Practice.

The England Hockey coaches were Andy Bradshaw, Carolyn Rolleston, Clare Hayes, Jody Paul, Marc Bourhill and Jon Bleby. The English Table Tennis Association coaches were Craig Bryant, Stephen Gertsen, Paul Whiting and Natalie Green, while the Rugby Football League coaches were Christopher Chapman, Dan Clements and Martin Cunningham.

Andy Bradshaw, Head Coach for the England Hockey Girls' Under 18's squad, commented: "I've been able to access research at the University that proved to be particularly useful when developing our talent identification processes. Working with like-minded professionals from other sports has also been beneficial."

Highlights of the intensive course included analyzing techniques and discovering innovative training methods.

The Rugby League National Player Development Manager Chris Chapman said: "This course was the natural progression for my career and it's been both challenging and rewarding. Sharing knowledge across a range of sport disciplines has allowed me to think differently about coaching and what new techniques we can apply."

Paul Whiting, South West Regional Coach for the England Table Tennis Association, added: "I have really challenged myself to see the job from a different perspective by sharing ideas of best practice with coaches from other sports, particularly in the area of performance analysis."

Bryan Jones, UCLan Principal Lecturer in Coaching and Performance, said: "The course is making a big difference to coaching methods throughout various sports. We've got more sports looking at sending their coaches as they've seen and heard great things. That can only be of benefit to the individuals and their national teams."

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Top award for Professor Collins

Professor Dave Collins is set to receive a prestigious British Psychological Society Award.

The Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology have honoured Professor Collins with the Distinguished Contribution to the Field of Sport & Exercise Psychology Award for 2013.

Professor Collins will receive his award and deliver the closing presentation at the Division's annual conference at the Midland Hotel, Manchester.

The event takes place on 16 & 17 December and features a variety of symposiums and presentations, with speakers from the UK, Europe and the USA. For further details please click here.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Professional Master's in Elite Performance (M. Prof. EP)

Having successfully established the Professional Doctorate in Elite Performance programme, ICaP has recently launched another original, exciting, and linked initiative: the Professional Master's in Elite Performance (M. Prof. EP).

The M. Prof. EP provides a high-level, vocationally-focused qualification for professional enhancement across multiple performance domains.

Who would be interested in the M. Prof. EP?

The M. Prof. EP programme will be of particular interest to practitioners working in, but not limited to, coaching (sport and business), sport science (e.g., strength and conditioning, psychology), education, science and medicine, performing arts, military, and other structured service providers.

The course is an individualized programme of studies tailored to each practitioner’s career-based needs and aspirations, and presents a unique opportunity to further develop thinking and analytical skills through work on an area of expertise. The M. Prof. EP also allows practitioners to demonstrate transferable skill sets as a precursor to changing role, career, or performance domain.

How do I study for an M. Prof. EP?

Using an established in-house core team of performance specialists, in conjunction with other colleagues across the University, candidates will explore issues from their own specific field across two course components. The first set of modules represents a ‘grounding’ element and aims to develop practitioner awareness and application of the knowledge sources that impact on performance in their domain.

The second component consists of an independent research project leading to submission of a dissertation. Wherever possible, and confidentiality notwithstanding, practitioners will also be encouraged and supported to publish their work in peer review journals, professional publications, or other pertinent media.

Independent and Distance Learning

Reflecting the challenging professional circumstances and interests of those likely to enroll on the M. Prof. EP, the entire award is designed to be completed at a distance and by independent study. Practitioners are assigned an experienced academic as a personal tutor who can draw on a strong background in elite performance and a broad base of expertise, both within existing University staff and via other national/international contacts.

Students are then supported through their programme of study using various electronic links such as online materials, email, and skype. Tutors also travel to meet with participants, particularly in the early stages of the different modules.

Who do I contact?

For further information on any aspect of the programme please email: Professor Dave Collins or Áine MacNamara.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Rugby bosses join the elite

Two Rugby Super League Head Coaches were among nearly 5,000 students who graduated from UCLan last week.

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and part-time French national team coach Richard Agar was joined by Denis Betts from Widnes Vikings as the pair graduated from the School of Sport, Tourism and the Outdoors.

They have both spent the past two years combining their full-time rugby coaching careers with studying for the United Kingdom Coaching Certificate (UKCC) Level 4 Postgraduate Diploma in Elite Coaching Practice.

Denis said: "This postgraduate course has been really worthwhile for enhancing our coaching careers and it gives us a credible academic achievement to use in the wider world. It’s been great to work alongside coaches from table tennis, squash and hockey as we can learn different skills from these sports."

Richard added: "It’s been a tough two years as our coaching jobs are really time consuming but I’m delighted I’ve completed it as the greater and more in-depth knowledge I’ve gained in areas such as physiology and strength and conditioning will help improve me as a coach."

They are among a handful of coaches who have achieved this academic qualification. In December 2011 John Kear, Steve McCormack, Stuart Wilkinson, Andy Proctor, Dave Elliott and Dave Rotheram were among the first cohort to graduate from this specialist course.

"Having left school more than 20 years ago it was a real challenge to go back to education," said Denis. "It has tested every aspect of my experience and ability but I’d recommend it to anybody as it’s been great. The support from the lecturers has been excellent; they were always available to offer advice and would encourage us to keep going when things got tough."

Bryan Jones, UCLan Principal Lecturer in Coaching and Performance, said: "I’m really proud of both Richard and Denis. Richard’s worked hard with it while having two coaching jobs and Denis has been a great student. It’s great to hear them talking about going on to look at further study as they’ve been really good individuals who have learnt so much."

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

PGDip Elite Coaching

Course Leader Bryan Jones with an overview of PGDip Elite Coaching at the University of Central Lancashire:

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Professor Collins teams up with Snow Sports NZ

Snow Sports NZ have brought in ICaP’s Professor Dave Collins to work with carded coaches in the area of skill acquisition.

Following the award of a Prime Minister’s Coach Scholarship to Snow Sports NZ, Professor Collins will work with the park and pipe coaches of their carded athletes teaching them about "the best steps we can put in place to increase skill acquisition and skill execution while minimising the risk of injury."

In turn, the carded coaches will pass that learning on to other coaches in the system working with development athletes.

A key goal is to speed up the process of learning so that medal capable athletes progress new tricks more quickly but also more safely, reducing the risk of injuries that can mean valuable time on the snow being lost.

Two main blocks of time have been set aside for skill progression in the year, in June/July and October. Professor Collins will spend two weeks with the coaches at a spring camp at Whistler, Canada and will travel to New Zealand for a second block of training in October.

The scholarship will have an impact on athletes’ preparation for the Winter Olympics at Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018. Following Swede Henrik Harlaut’s execution of a history-making Nose Butter Triple Cork 1620 at the 2013 X Games Big Air Finals, the bar has been set even higher for the rest of the world.

"The tricks are progressing. They’re getting bigger and more difficult," says Ashley Light, Performance Director of Snow Sports NZ’s high performance Winter Performance Programme.

"Until the judges reward execution of a skill and the style rather than amplitude and big tricks, there seems to be no ceiling on the height and speed at which the athletes can go - as the jumps just keep getting bigger with more features built on the slopes."

New Zealanders are already up there at the top in executing new tricks, including the up-and-coming Christy Prior, only the sixth female in the world to pull off a double back-flip with a snowboard strapped to her feet.

But for New Zealand athletes to stay among the leaders or keep up with the rapidly changing developments in the sport, they need to speed up the process for learning new tricks, Ashley says.

The progression in the sport is happening so fast, Ashley is sure there will be tricks performed at Sochi 2014 that aren’t being done right now and Professor Collins’ work will be a key component in this.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Exercise and the Effects on Cognition

Regular exercise and being active is beneficially to our well-being as a recent study has found. However, it is not just the body which benefits from exercise, but the mind too.

A unique study conducted by ICaP and colleagues from the University of Limerick found even small amounts of intense physical exercise can significantly improve the mental capabilities of children.

John Kiely, a Senior Lecturer in Elite Performance at the UCLan, worked with pupils and staff of Corpus Christi primary school in Moyross, Limerick, to see if exercise could benefit children academically.

Operating on a shoestring budget with the assistance of Limerick’s sport partnership, Mr Kiely, explained how the research was conducted.

"A child’s school performance is very hard to measure," he said. "There is a lot of research out there. People who exercise regularly tend to have better emotional control and cognitive ability than other people. However, physical activity is being eroded in schools as people say we need to get academic results. We said we would look at really short bouts of exercise that don’t interrupt the school day and see the results with brain training exercises."

Boys and girls from sixth class exercised on stationery bikes for five 20-second intervals, three times a week. After exercising, children went straight back to laptops for mental challenges.

"We used brain exercises that you do on a laptop," Mr Kiely said. "This software is devised by US based neuroscientists and they supplied it to us for free. The software is very specific to examining attention – how quickly you process information and your mental flexibility. After ten weeks all of the pupils showed large improvements. The most interesting part for the teachers was the pupils' ability to stay focused on tasks presented to them on the laptop."

Children diagnosed with attention deficits also scored highly on focus-based exercises. While the project is still in its infancy, Mr Kiely was delighted with initial results following the study.

"The children really bought into it and the teachers are reporting back that it certainly helps it terms of their concentration. We are still crunching the results but are encouraged by what we have seen to date and the feedback."

Teachers at Corpus Christi confirmed the study had enabled them "to work with the children at physical, mental and emotional levels" and there was a "direct link with children who were engaged physically to their academic achievements."