Sports medicine and science, coaching and performance lifestyle - a snapshot of 2008Subscribe
Jessica Whitehorn / Mairi Irvine 30 December 2008
Sports Science and Sports Medicine
In March, best practice guidelines on the early treatment of muscle strains were published in international peer review journal, the British Journal of Sports Medicine as a result of a workshop on the topic involving the world's leading experts, led by UK Sport. The ‘Think Tank’ workshop was organised by the Sports Medicine and Sports Science team as part of their commitment to enhancing sports medicine and science delivery to elite athletes via the sharing of knowledge, experience and ideas.
The team organised various strategic forums throughout the year, including gathering the heads of science and medicine from the FA, RFU, ECB, LTA and Royal Ballet to share ideas on maximising the impact of science and medicine in high performance sport in the UK, and a discussion on injury audit and ways of using medical information to maximise the quality of care provided to athletes in the high performance system.
The team were also involved in the organisation and delivery of various master classes and conferences throughout the year, which included a workshop for English Institute of Sport nutritionists on innovation and creativity in the context of clinical decision making, the UK athletics master class in the management of chronic groin pain in high performance athletes and a conference called ‘The Grumbling Groin: An exploration of applied management strategies for the high performance athlete.’
UK Sport’s Fast-track Practitioner Programme produced its fourth group of graduates in 2008, 22 in total, who have all benefited from a year-long mentoring and workshop development programme aimed at accelerating their competency for service delivery with in high performance sport. The Fast-track Practitioner Programme assists in the training and development of young practitioners across the disciplines of physiotherapy, strength and conditioning, physiology, nutrition, performance analysis, psychology and biomechanics and is run in partnership with the home country sports institutes, the British Olympic Association and the British Paralympic Association. Some of this year's participants were invited to work at the Olympic and Paraylmpic Games, which demonstrated the impact of the programme on thier professional development. A fifth cohort of 25 practitioners began their development opportunity on the fast-track programme in October.
Meanwhile, a report was published highlighting the success of the Fast-track Practitioner Programme. The report covers the findings of a project conducted by the Sports Medicine and Sports Science team, designed to provide some understanding and hard evidence of the impact of the programme. Past graduates, plus mentors and managers involved in the programme were asked to complete an online questionnaire. The main results showed that 88% of those that responded felt that the programme had a moderate to major impact on preparing participants for their career in high performance sport, while 71% felt the programme had had a moderate to major impact on technical skills. The report also highlighted that 73% of participants used the skills, knowledge or insight gained at the workshops at least once a week and made specific recommendations as to how the programme can be improved, which will be of benefit to the 08/09 intake.
November 2008 brought the graduation of the second group of individuals to complete UK Sport’s Elite Coach programme. Elite Coach is a tailor-made programme designed to meet the needs of each coach, allowing them to develop both their technical skills by working with and observing the best in action and their leadership communication skills which are the hallmarks of the most successful operators, not just from the world of sport, but also in the worlds of business, industry and the arts. Having completed the intense three year development programme, many of the graduates now have the responsibility of imparting the knowledge and skills they have gained to their fellow coaches and colleagues within their respective sports. This year’s graduates were Ian Barker (sailing), Chris Boardman (cycling), Karen Brown (hockey), Steve Gladding (diving), Kate Howey (judo), Ciaran O’Brien (swimming), Nigel Redman (rugby union), Dan Salcedo (triathlon).
Many current and former Elite Coach participants went to the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games with their athletes this year, notably Kevin Renshaw, who coached David Davies to silver in the 10km open water swim, and Chris Boardman, who is part of the management team to the all conquering British Cycling squad.
The eighth annual World Class Coaching Conference took place at the Belfry in November, providing the high performance community with their first opportunity to come together and learn the lessons of Beijing, take stock, and look ahead to London. Over 400 delegates attended a series of keynote presentations and seminars over the course of the four day conference, themed ‘Winning Margins’. Speakers included Dr Steve Peters, a clinical psychiatrist who is now a member of British Cycling’s management team, Dr Aki Hinsta, a medic within McLaren’s Formula One backup team, and Michael Scott, Performance Director to British Swimming.
UK Sport’s coaching team continue to support sports coach uk in their work as the lead agency charged with the development and implementation of a UK Coaching System, and also provide consultancy to individual sports on coaching matters related to outputs identified through UK Sport’s Mission 2012 performance tracking tool.
The Performance Lifestyle (PL) team work with athletes to provide lifestyle management and personal development solutions to support their current performance and future potential.
One example of how PL can make a difference can be highlighted by Beijing Olympic gold medallist, Paul Manning. Since 2004, Manning has worked with PL Advisor Joanna Harrison and in 2008 they worked together to secure a contract with construction services provider ISG for Manning when he retired from cycling after The 2008 Olympic Games. Manning said: “Performance Lifestyle supports most things; taking up a hobby, courses to improve career prospects, languages – anything which helps keep you going. I maintain that the links Performance Lifestyle is forging with modern business give current and future elite performers a great advantage, due to the knowledge that there are opportunities out there for them, should they have a career threatening injury or when they choose to retire from their chosen sport.”
The impact that PL can make has been summarised Tim Brabants, Beijing Gold medallist in canoeing (K1 1000m): “It is important to get a career in place for life after sport. Performance Lifestyle can assist with that – a lot of athletes probably neglect that area of their life. It’s key that athletes have help with balancing their lives. Most athletes I know aren’t good at organising themselves and having someone who can help you can make quite a difference.”
Significantly increased investment into Home Country Sports Councils in the next Olympic cycle will firmly embed the PL system into sport. The profile of the service has increased to meet the raised expectation of athletes and the programme has grown and been enhanced to be truly focused on supporting athlete performance excellence through their personal development.
In May, Performance Lifestyle Advisors from all over the country gathered for UK Sport’s Annual Performance Lifestyle Conference. Speakers included Major David Hazeldine from the Ministry of Defence Directorate of Resettlement who outlined the transition from military to civilian life and Paul Wylleman of the University of Brussels, a leading expert in athlete career transitions. Wylleman has written extensively on the impact of transition on athletes programmes and is a world leader in this area.
Phil Gallagher, UK Sport’s Performance Lifestyle Consultant, has collaborated with Leeds Metropolitan University to formulate a Lifestyle Management post-graduate course for trainee advisers and potential advisers. This ground breaking initiative is the first course of its kind in the UK.
The Performance Lifestyle team has also developed a ‘Lifestyle Management for Coaches’ workshop in 2008 in recognition of the responsibility that coaches have in maximising athlete performance and to embed the importance of ‘A Performance Lifestyle’ culture deeper into the sporting system. Rebecca Romero, Beijing 2008 gold medallist emphasised the importance of this: “I think it’s important to have lifestyle management available for coaches. When coaches manage your life it’s useful for them to be brought into the equation as well.”