A development initative for emerging athletes

‘Rising Stars’ is Athletics NI’s development initiative for emerging athletes. It is underpinned by a structured training syllabus devised specifically to help young athletes develop a broad base of training skills. The development of these skills are the foundation of advanced training in Athletics and are important regardless of the Event Group (Speed, Endurance, Jumps or Throws) that an athlete eventually decides to specialise in.

What is Rising Stars?

Rising Stars is an athlete development initiative delivered weekly by coaches deployed and trained by Athletics NI. The programme is led by Tom Reynolds (Athlete Development lead) and Laura Kerr (Coach Development and Physical Preparation Lead). Rising Stars focuses on delivering a sound physical preparation programme and a multi event approach to athletes aged 12-15 years old.

Why was the curriculum developed?

A key concern among Athletics Coaches, Strength and Conditioning Specialists and Physios working with elite performance athletes is the general lack of skill, strength, speed, mobility, balance and co-ordination exhibited by teenage athletes who potentially could become major championship medal winners. A lack of these qualities increases the risk of injury and limits an athlete’s senior potential. Research conducted by England Athletics, published in ‘Bridging the Gap’, shows that young athletes engaged in a multi event programme are less likely to become injured or drop out in their later teens.

Which athletes will benefit most from the Rising Stars syllabus?

Rising Stars is great for all athletes because it addresses the fundamental building blocks of athleticism, which underpins training for any event or sport.

Have Rising Stars athletes been successful?

The recent success of  Rising Stars graduates such as Katie Monteith (Irish U15 60m Champion and Ulster Schools Combined Events Champion), Kate O’Connor (European Youth Championships, Hepthathlon – 7th place) and Ethan Williamson (Double Irish Schools Champion – Hurdles and Triple Jump) demonstrates that young athletes can still achieve success whilst being engaged in a programme focused on long term athlete development.

Do you need to have done Athletics already before attending Rising Stars?

Many of these young athletes are identified through school taster sessions and have limited previous exposure to Athletics.

Where are Rising Stars sessions held?

During 2016/17, thanks to the support of clubs, councils and keen coaches the programme will be delivered in 8 regions:

  • Downpatrick
  • Newry
  • Belfast
  • Bangor
  • Jordanstown
  • Larne
  • Coleraine
  • Antrim


Can I attend Rising Stars and be a member of a club?

When first attending Rising Stars new athletes will also be signposted to join their local club in addition to attending one Rising Stars session per week across the three terms.

What does a typical Rising Stars session look like?

Each 90 minute Rising Stars session is prepared by the Athletics NI Coaching Department includes:

  • A dynamic warm up focused on movement competency
  • A running component with an acceleration, maximum velocity or hurdling focus
  • A push or pull throw progression
  • A long or high jump progression.

All event progressions and coaching cues used in Rising Stars programmes can be found at the Rising Stars resources section below. Rising Stars coaches progress athletes according to their competency levels often spending at least 6 weeks on each of the progressions shown in the resources. Athletics NI have also prepare resources for weekly delivery and will share term time programmes on a regular basis.

I’m a coach and want to learn more about Rising Stars and the multi-events approach to coaching. Can Athletics NI help me?

Athletics NI allow coaches gain experience of the Rising Stars curriculum through our coaching apprenticeship programme. Each year there are places for a number of apprentice coaches to work alongside a regional programme, under the supervision of a coach already familiar with the Rising Stars content and delivery format.

Can I start a Rising Stars squad at my Club?

Rising Stars can be used as an introductory programme for young athletes in a club environment. Coaches wishing to embed this multi event initiative within their own club should contact Coach Development Lead Laura Kerr. To assist clubs wishing to undertake this approach, mentoring, networking opportunities and coaching resources will be made available to 12-15 coaches each year.

Rising Stars Athlete Development Squad & Apprentice Coach Programme

Rising Stars Athlete Development Squad & Apprentice Coach Programme

Rising Stars Progression Resources

The following coaching resource cards cover the key progressions used during Rising Stars sessions:

Acceleration – For Sprints, Hurdles and Endurance running

Upright / Maximum Velocity Running – for sprints, hurdles, endurance and Javelin

Hurdles – For 100/110m Hurdles, 300/400m Hurdles and 3000m Steeplechase

Javelin-pull throw progression to prepare an athlete for javelin

Shot-push throw progressions

High Jump-focusing on approach run and bar clearance

Long Jump-focusing on preparation for take off and landing

800m – Preparation for middle distance with a focus on pacing

Relays – Using the “Push Pass” exchange as used in the 4x100m relay

Rising Star: Erin Risher

Rising Star: Erin Fisher

Rising Stars Example Warm Up

Rising Stars Curriculum

Rising Stars Term 2 (Weeks 13-18)

After a fun, low key Rising Stars Indoor competition prior to a short break for Christmas the Athletics NI Coaching Team have prepared the content for Term 2.  Our mini competition in December allowed  150+ athletes to test their new skills under pressure and in line...

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Rising Stars News

Rising Stars 2016/17

Rising Stars is Athletics NI's weekly athlete development initiative for 12-15 year olds. Beginning next week and with the support of clubs, councils and keen coaches the programme will be delivered in 8 regions including Downpatrick, Newry, Belfast, Bangor,...

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Rising Stars Competition Results

Photo Credit: John Glover

Photo Credit: John Glover