The dust is settling in Glasgow on what has been the best ever Commonwealth Games performance from the Home Nations, with 276 medals won and some of Britain’s best athletes grabbing the headlines with inspirational performances.
For athletes on UK Sport’s World Class Programme, the Commonwealth Games are an important step on the road to Rio, giving them - and their coaches - a chance to experience a multi-sport event on the world stage.
Behind the athletes is a support team made up of hundreds of experts from coaches to physiotherapists, nutritional experts to performance advisors. The relationship between coach and athlete is fundamental to success, and UK Sport and National Lottery funding helps build and develop this team through various coaching programmes.
Among a number of these coaching programmes is the Elite Coaching Apprenticeship Programme (ECAP), which both Greg Rutherford’s coach Jonas Tawiah Dodoo and Adam Peaty’s coach Mel Marshall have benefited from.
"ECAP has given me good foundations and it has allowed me to be very settled,” said British Swimming coach Mel Marshall. "Because of ECAP I felt very secure and confident in what I was doing at Glasgow."
ECAP is targeted at emerging coaches already working in the high performance system, enabling them to not only have an enhanced impact in the short term, but also to become the elite coaches of the future.
"When I came into ECAP I was really book smart, but not life smart," admitted Dodoo, who has coached Rutherford to Commonwealth gold. "I was fresh; I didn’t understand how the system worked or the politics of the sport. I didn’t understand how to balance my life – I’d coach twenty hours a day then come home and pass out.
"ECAP showed me very clearly how to highlight my weakness first and then helped me to fix them."
Marshall, who is a six-time Commonwealth Games medallist and two-time Olympian, was called up to Team England duty as well as being gold medal-winning Adam Peaty’s personal coach.
"It was a relief when it was all over in some senses, because we knew that’s what he was capable of so it was just making sure we got everything right to try and get those things done and the results we wanted."
Another coach who has benefited from the ECAP is British Gymnastics National Coach Barry Collie. Some of the athletes he works with won medals for England, Scotland and Wales at Glasgow following on from an incredible European Junior Championships in May.
"The most important thing about coaching is that it’s athlete driven," Collie told us last month. "It’s not about the coaches, we’re here to develop the athletes and allow them to flourish, you offer them support and advice. The key to success is the effort and sacrifice of the clubs, parents and British Gymnastics, the collaboration of all three is vital to support the gymnasts."
The coaches and athletes can use their experience in Glasgow as vital preparation before the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Marshall admits that the Commonwealth Games was a great environment for her development.
"I carried quite a lot of nerves into [Glasgow], but I think it’s like everything you go in to, in context, it does get easier over time."
To find out more about ECAP or more of UK Sport’s coaching programmes, visit our Coaching area.
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