UK Sport’s Coach Leader Programme has ended this month, supporting 12 of the highest potential and performing coaches from across the Olympic and Paralympic high-performance community to succeed in Tokyo, Beijing and beyond.
The Programme was created following the success of the UK Sport Elite Programme and, beginning in November 2018, has provided a group of 12 elite and high-profile coaches with a series of learning and development opportunities in order for them to be the best possible leaders both now and in the future.
Key to the Programme has been supporting each of the 12 coaches against an individual development plan and enabling them to work one-to-one with a coach developer and a leadership developer, as well as having access to additional aids most appropriate to their specific journey. The Programme firmly placed the coaches at the heart of the experience, meeting them where they were at and evolving the content to adapt to their changing needs and wants.
As part of ensuring coaching is our collective and sustainable competitive advantage across the UK high-performance community, the Progamme has been based on helping the coaches to better understand themselves as coaches and leaders, build and maintain relationships, and further enhance their respective leadership and coaching skills to be at their best when it counts.
The Programme has privileged the coaches’ voice, providing them with a safe and secure space to share stories and help each other, particularly through the COVID period. The programme was extended by 12 months to help ensure the coaches were supported to help solve problems and navigate the dynamic high-performance environments they work in, especially considering the impact of COVID.
The Programme has been run with backing from Hartpury University with each coach receiving a bespoke post-graduate diploma. The 12 coaches are:
Mike Babb (Para-Shooting)
Adam Elliott (Triathlon)
James Harris (Rowing)
Tom Hodgkinson (Para-Cycling)
Jimmy Howard (Skeleton)
Bex Milnes (Para-Triathlon)
Craig Morris (Canoeing)
Dave Murdoch (Curling)
Pat Sharples (Snowsport)
Paul Stannard (Rowing)
Steve Tigg (Swimming)
Tracy Whittaker-Smith (Gymnastics)
In addition to the above 12, UK Sport continued to support and allow Russell Garcia to complete the Coach Leader Programme having started it when he was assistant coach to the England and Great Britain’s men’s hockey team and prior to his departure from the role.
Dame Katherine Grainger, Chair at UK Sport
, said: “I would like to offer my congratulations to all of the coaches who have worked so hard over the past two and a half years and have now completed the UK Sport Coach Leader Programme.
“What has stood out from this group is the way they have supported and challenged each other throughout this incredible learning opportunity, which is testament to the character of all of the coaches involved.
“Coaches, alongside athletes, are at the heart of our high-performance community and coaching is our competitive advantage. This group of 12 are among the best across our Olympic and Paralympic high-performance community and thanks to the Programme they are now even greater equipped to provide continued world class support and direction for their athletes.”
Adam Elliott, British Triathlon Performance Coach,
said: “To me being on the Coach Leader Programme is like having an extension to your family. They might not be around all the time but whenever you need help it’s always there, and offered at a level and depth that you couldn’t possibly get to in your own.”
Bex Milnes, British Triathlon LTPC Lead Paratriathlon Coach,
said: “Being challenged to reflect and learn in an academic way again really allowed for a greater level of self-reflection that I haven’t been able to achieve in some time. By the end of the course I really appreciated the value of stepping outside my comfort zone and trying something different.”
Paul Stannard, British Rowing Lead Coach – Men’s Sculling,
said: “Ten years ago Craig Morris and I were both on UK Sport’s Elite Coach Apprenticeship Programme and to this day we are still in touch with fellow coaches from that group. I hope that in the same way, this group of coaches on Coach Leader will continue to support each other over the next ten years. It was great to hear a number of examples from the group where people have had problems solved and issues sorted through informal chats and formal workshops alike!”
Tracy Whittaker-Smith, British Gymnastics Head National Coach – Trampoline,
said: “Coaching and success at world and Olympic level are some of the greatest moments that I have experienced as a coach but, the Coach Leaders Programme, and the collaboration it is created with so many coaches from different sports and the support from UK Sport has definitely been a career highlight.”