Monday, 1 December 2014

Scottish Basketball Coach achieves UKCC Level 4

Jim Wright has become the first Basketball coach in Scotland to achieve a UKCC Level 4 qualification.

Jim (far left) came to the course as an experienced coach/tutor with many years coaching at both National and International Level.

He felt his coaching skills had been somewhat self-taught and that he, and his players, would benefit from the course both from a purely academic perspective and from the networking opportunities on offer.

The course had coaches from a number of diverse sports including hockey, rugby league and motor sport, with everyone delivering at National/GB level. Jim was also encouraged to develop his practice through observing other sports and high performance environments.

He said: "Little did I know that I would make excellent links both professionally and personally and have my practice positively impacted in such a fundamental way. I think despite the disparate experiences we all brought, the over-riding emotions during the first weekend were described by all of us as 'my head hurts', 'brain melt' and 'head on fire'.

"This was quickly replaced by an enthusiasm to get into the course largely as a result of the attitude of Bryan (Jones) and John (Trower), who led the academic input and coach mentoring respectively and who were always engaging encouraging and challenging.

"One of the most enjoyable aspects of the course was the fact there were very few 'definites' - it was always about possibilities and opinions. This was refreshing and made for a stimulating learning environment. The range, depth and experience of the guest speakers made for added value.

"Adi Stan, John Kiely and others allowed the teaching to avoid staleness and offered students an opportunity to discuss pedagogy with true leaders in their field. Many of my colleagues took the opportunity to visit Adi and others and found them to be both supportive and welcoming.

"John (Trower) was the Coach Mentor/Yoda figure to a few of us. He was available to discuss Practice Issues, L4 Portfolio and for general discussion regarding the course. I found him particularly supportive on a number of occasions, helping to deliver to various coaches within Scottish basketball.

"Particular highlights were the often tangential discussions that developed from the initial topic. These were always allowed to develop and create stimulating discussions. I believe this was strength of the course, in that it allowed the students to truly be responsible for their learning, and to lead their own learning.

"This was crucial for me, as I viewed the course as both academic and a coaching journey. I could develop or not dependent on my efforts and inclinations. All of the input generated reflection, so it was up to me how to implement it in my practice. I was also exposed to academic challenge and reinforcement of my practice, Graves, Dweck et al were all a delight to re-discover and immerse in.

"The course was a boon to my coaching as I was involved with Scottish National Squads and I was able to relate my new experience to my coaching almost in 'real time', developing both my practice and my players' performance at the same time, examples such as performance anxiety, functional variability spring immediately to mind.

"I would recommend the course to anyone hoping to develop their coaching practice within a hugely supportive academic environment. I'd especially like to thank Arvinder Kaur, Bryan, John and the rest of Cohort 4 for their support during an energizing two years."

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Professor Collins presents at ECB event

Professor Dave Collins was a keynote speaker at the recent ECB Association of Cricket Officials Annual Conference 2014.

Professor Collins discussed the Psychology of Officiating, which built on previous work with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) that used video simulations to develop more coherent decision making in referees and touch judges, long before the days of video referees. He also talked about the multi-tasking skills needed by umpires - the 'Flash Lag' hypothesis.

The event attracted a number of leading names from the world of cricket, including former England international fast-bowler Steve Harmison.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Exploring theory and practice - a constraints-led approach

The Institute of Coaching and Performance (ICaP) is teaming up with Plas y Brenin National Mountain Centre to host an adventure sports coaching seminar.

ICaP's Professor David Collins and Dr. Loel Collins will be joined by top coaches Marianne Davies and Dean (Sid) Sinfield at the event, which is aimed at all coach educators in the industry.

The day will be based around sharing ideas and expertise to explore how we can more effectively coach adventure sports using the interaction of personal, environmental and task-specific constraints, and in particular focus on the application of theory into practice.

The event takes place on Friday, 28th November, 9.00am-2.30pm. For further information please click here.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Institute and students help Tongan Rugby preparations

The Institute of Coaching and Performance have been helping the Tongan Rugby Union team prepare for the forthcoming Autumn Internationals.

The squad is spending three days at UCLan Sports Arena using its rugby pitches and strength and conditioning suite as part of a rigorous training schedule before facing Georgia on Saturday, 8 November.

The players were joined for one of the sessions by former South African Rugby Union team coach Jake White. Tonga Head Coach Mana Otai commented: "Training is going really well and we're all feeling very positive. This is our first visit to Preston and the whole squad has been made to feel really welcome.

"We're very impressed with the facilities here at UCLan Sports Arena and will make the most of them as we prepare for our first Autumn International match next week."

Students from a range of UCLan Sport courses have been able to go along to some of the training sessions and watch the players and coaches in action.

Two second year Sports Coaching students, Oliver Hicks and Liam Reilly, have been chosen to work with the squad on performance analysis and the players also took advantage of the University's Physiotherapy Clinic for sports massage treatment from second and third year Sports Therapy students.

Liam said: "It's a massive opportunity to work so closely with the professionals and they see how they do it.

"We've videoed the players in training and can feed back to the coaching staff on specific areas. It's been a big learning curve and we've been given some really useful advice."

If the three day training camp is a success, Tonga will consider using UCLan as a base for next year's Rugby Union World Cup.

It follows a series of other high profile international sports team visits when both the Irish and Fijian Rugby League teams used UCLan Sports Arena as a base camp during the Rugby League World Cup 2013.

UCLan also hosted several Olympic athletes from Oceania, including Tonga, as they prepared for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

ICaP's Bryan Jones said: "Tonga's visit is a legacy of the work we did with several Oceania countries in the build up to London 2012. Since then we've worked hard to develop this relationship and it's fantastic that we're now able to host yet another international rugby team right here on campus.

"It's a great opportunity for students to see and work with professionals and hopefully we will welcome the squad again next year as they prepare for the World Cup."

In addition to the Georgia game, Tonga face the USA on Saturday, 15 November and Scotland on Saturday, 22 November.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

ICaP Divisional update

The Institute of Coaching and Performance (ICaP) is looking forward to another successful academic year.

During 2013/14 ICaP hosted its first Talent Development Symposium and had over 45 peer review papers published, including three in the top rated journal 'Sports Medicine'.

ICaP's Professor Dave Collins is delighted to confirm there are now over 90 students on the DProf and MProf courses, including five full fee overseas students. ICaP has also had three doctoral graduates and secured grants worth approximately £300,000.

Staff who have secured prestigious external applied positions include John Kiely (Strength and Conditioning consultant to the Irish national Rugby Team) and recently appointed Lecturer Andrew Cruickshank (Psychology Consultant to British Judo and the Motor Sports Association).

Dr Tim Holder (Senior Lecturer) and Dr Howie Carson (Research Assistant) have both joined ICaP, whilst Dr Aine MacNamara has returned from maternity leave. The Institute are also planning some new postgraduate degree courses.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

ICaP Symposium attracts sport's finest

A number of top sporting names joined almost 300 delegates as ICaP hosted its first ever Talent Identification Symposium at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Brian Ashton MBE, the former England RFU Head Coach, and Danny Grewcock MBE, Academy Director at Bath Rugby, were amongst an influential gathering which included representatives from Manchester City FC and British Athletics.

ICaP researchers presented findings which showed natural talent plays only a small part in a complex web of influential factors when developing elite athletes.

They suggested athletes who have a slow and bumpy progression in the early stages of their career tend to eventually succeed at a far higher level than those tipped to be the next big thing from the start.

By avoiding this 'simply the best' syndrome and positively reacting to challenges and setbacks, athletes are more likely to be independent, adaptable and resilient leading to greater long-term achievements.

Professor Dave Collins, Director of ICaP and former Performance Director of UK Athletics, headed up the conference. He said: "There is no magic answer as to what makes an elite performer. Too many people are looking for straightforward solutions such as the idea that practising for 10,000 hours is the secret to success.

"There are many 'gifted' individuals that don't make it whilst those who are committed and work hard do. By considering the psychological characteristics of developing excellence such as completing realistic performance evaluations, learning how to cope with pressure and taking responsibility for your own learning, we can develop a 'curriculum' for helping people to achieve at the highest levels of their potential.

"The findings also showed the relationship between a coach and parents needs to be turned on its head - a coach should ask what a parent would like to know about their child's performance to enable them to offer support, rather than assuming what they need to know and what their existing knowledge is."

Anne Pankhurst, Education Consultant to the Professional Tennis Registry, Development consultant for USA Football and previously the Coach Education Director for the Lawn Tennis Association, is a Doctoral student with ICaP and presented on the parent-coach relationship at the conference.

She commented: "Parents generally want to know what competition their child is up against, how much and what sort of practise they need to do and more generally, what their job is in enabling the development of their child. Most coaches tend to assume parents have a pre-existing knowledge of what this is when of course why would they? It's this focus that needs to change so the coach can help parents play a more supportive role in the whole process."

Other ICaP findings were:
  • Young athletes need to focus on a breadth of activity, done with a depth of commitment, rather than specialise early in their career
  • Sports people who take more responsibility for their own learning rather than relying heavily on coaching and those that receive less pressure from their parents tend to make the transition to professional athlete much more successfully
  • Having a sibling who has succeeded in sport can be a catalyst for success but it can also have a negative impact by influencing the talent development process before the coach comes into contact with the athlete causing perceived favouritism.
Other ICaP researchers to present their findings included Neil McCarthy, Head of Academy at Leicester Tigers RUFC, British Cycling's Coaching and Education manager Vinny Webb and Will Tullett, Movement Specialist at Chelsea FC Academy. The trio are all Doctoral students at UCLan.

Brian Ashton praised the event: "It’s great for young coaches to see the variety of ways that coaching can be approached. For some, it will be a reaffirmation that they are doing things right and highlight there isn’t one set way to coach because many different strands make up an elite athlete."

Danny Grewcock said: "As a coach you are constantly looking to improve performance levels and listening to the experts today has provided snippets of gold I can embed into our performance programme."