Athletics NI 2017 Coaching Conference

Toni Minichello Headlines Successful Coaching Conference

Toni Minichello, coach of Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, headlined Athletics NI’s Annual Coaching Conference which took place on 7th October at Ulster University, with over 100 coaches attending from Northern Ireland and other home countries.  The busy conference weekend also included a meeting of Athletics NI’s Endurance Coaches Network (ECN) at Crowne Plaza, Shawsbridge on Friday 6th October with 40 leading endurance coaches attending.

Toni Minichello Headlines Successful Coaching Conference

Coach Development Lead Laura Kerr said; “Our Annual Coaching Conference brings the coaching community together to share knowledge and network with each other.  We were delighted with the response to this year’s conference and it was great to kick things off by launching our new Athlete Development Pathway.”In her opening address Director of Coaching & Athlete Development, Jackie Newton explained the key support programmes associated with the new development pathway specifically outlining the key features and tiers of support for ‘Commonwealth Potential’ and ‘Podium Potential’ athletes and coaches.

Before introducing Dame Mary Peters, Jackie went on to explain the concept of “athlete centred, coach lead and governing body/sport science supported” programmes and the coaching mindset and behaviours required to work effectively in performance teams.

Dame Mary Peters explained the great relationship she built with her own coach in the lead up to her Olympic Gold Medal winning performance and shared with coaches and young athletes attending some of the advice on sleep, nutrition and lifestyle her coach had passed down as she read from her original training diaries. Dame Mary went on to explain the great work of the Mary Peters Trust in supporting today’s emerging talented athletes before introducing Olympic Gold medal winning Coach Toni Minichello.

Toni, along with Dr John Rogers delivered this year’s key keynote presentations. Toni focussed on his 18 year journey with Olympic Heptathlon Gold Medallist Jessica Ennis and on the need to continually self-reflect as a coach.  Leading into Commonwealth year, Dr John Rogers messages around athlete health were invaluable and he discussed assessments of athlete health, maintenance of health whilst travelling and the key indicators of overtraining and fatigue syndromes.

Afternoon breakout sessions were delivered by Olympic High Jumper Deidre Ryan and Dutchman Honoré Hoedt in addition to John and Toni.Deidre’s practical session focused on preparatory exercises for a high jumper focusing on the approach run. Utilising the skills of 3 talented young athletes including Commonwealth Youth Gold Medallist Sommer Lecky, Deidre demonstrated a number of transference exercises and plyometrics applicable to the high jump.  Having coached athletes to five Olympic Games, Honoré is one of Europe’s leading authorities on middle distance running and gave an honest reflection on his own coaching philosophy, and journey, as well as, discussing talent identification and development for middle distance athletes.Honoré’s discussion of talent development was both engaging and challenging. He described finding the balance between aerobic and anaerobic work, and recognising the differing responses of fast and slow twitch athletes to different training stimulus.

As we progress our own talent identification and multi event approach here in Northern Ireland, it was very interesting to understand the approach taken by Honoré in his regional development programme in the Netherlands.Speaking after the event Jackie Newton said “As we look ahead to Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast I am delighted to see a great turnout at this year’s conference and I am encouraged by the willingness of local coaches to challenge themselves as they seek to improve their own understanding.      “We now look forward to our Youth Academy, Commonwealth Potential and Podium Potential Squad launches this week.”

Laura Kerr added: “We would like to say a special thank you to all our speakers for travelling to Northern Ireland to deliver such engaging sessions. “I would also like to thank Café Cuisine for excellent catering, Rosco Creative for videography throughout the weekend (which will allow us to provide free online video content on soon) and the University of Ulster for provision of lecture theatres and sports facilities.”
All the videos from the day are now available below free of charge: