British Orienteering Coaching Conference

I spent the weekend at Lilleshall at the BO Coaching Conference.  This year’s theme was mainly the more Elite end, but there were a wide range of sessions.

Mike Hamilton kicked off the first day with an overview of the Whole Sport Plan.  BO’s original attempts at increasing participation, Community Nights, have not done the job and are been dropped.  These are to be replaced by two or three packages aimed at different “target audiences”.  The difference is that clubs are no longer required to run these, other partners are being sought to do this.  Quite how this will work is not at all clear.  Will clubs be asked for permission to use their local areas?  Will they be informed of when the events will be run?  If clubs aren’t included in discussions with local landowners, how will this effect their relationships?  The “activators” for these sessions will be specially recruited and trained.  It is hard to see how they will have the skills to assist people who want to move from these sessions in to being proper orienteers.  However, increasing club membership is not a requirement from SportEngland (although it is for SportScotland), but perhaps BO should have it’s own KPI of increasing club membership, despite the fact that this isn’t required by SE.

Jackie Newton then gave a talk on “Regional squads: working towards Talent Development Squad”.  This didn’t really talk about how the Talent Development Squad would work with the Regional Squads.  It was more an overview of how training should cover all the aspects of the sport – except that it didn’t cover any of the technical and tactical aspects of orienteering.  Questions were asked about what Talent Squad wanted  the regional squads to do, but there wasn’t really an answer.  The subsequent article in the Focus magazine was pretty clear that actually the Performance Department saw the Regional Squads as a nice way to entertain some kids once a month but, as SportEngland was funding “Nationally managed Talent Development”, this wasn’t good enough.  As the Performance Department has to increase the Talent Squad to 64 (from 30)  and the Elite Squad to 30 (from 20) by 2015, it rather begs the questions “where are all these talented and elite athletes going to come from?”, “who is going to coach them?” and “why have all the other sports reduced their Talent Squads to those that could actually medal?”.  Mike seems to have little regard for orienteering coaches and the coaching structure.  He has also not questioned why the Performance Department hasn’t managed to get the Regional Squads to work with them.  Perhaps that would be a sensible thing to do?

Anyway, then I did my bit on Strength and Conditioning, which I will discuss elsewhere.

Ian Kevan gave a very interesting talk on the range of shoes now available and how to treat them – which I suspect was listened to intently and then promptly forgotten.  One key thing he said is that it is worth tightening shoes up from the bottom each time to get a good fit.

Jackie then gave a second presentation on Developing Periodised training.  I’m afraid I didn’t find much that was novel in this, but I think many others did.  I did question why the Talent Squad athletes had a single periodised structure that peaked solely at JWOC, when they all had to get selected at the JK several months before.  That Jackie hadn’t thought about this was a little odd.

The snow put paid to the nutritionists talk, but we had a nice sprint around Lilleshall.

In the evening various people showed their favourite coaching aids.  I liked the video analysis package called Kinovea.   The YouTube download package was also interesting.  A couple of people demonstrated Orienteering games.

The next day started with Heather Burrows giving a talk about how we do coaching at LOC.  This was followed by the same topic from the MAROC perspective by Jon Musgrave.  MAROC put on coaching sessions each weekend that there isn’t a local or important event.  These go from beginners to talent in range and parents are expected to stay and take part or help.  The club has targets of how many families they need to recruit and plans as to how to do this.  They also have input into two schools, Aboyne and Banchory Academy, and are thinking about how to get into a third.  There was food for thought for LOC there.

Dave Peel gave a talk on WOC2015 preparations.  There wasn’t a great deal of substance.  We had a short group session on something to do with the WOC2015, but this information hasn’t been fed back to us.

Finally, Paul Murgatroyd gave an entertaining warm-up session in the snow.  It was quite good fun, but repeated quite a lot of the session he did last year.  I did like the part where he had lines of people running towards each other before veering off around cones in the centre of the area.  We tried this at Broughton Runners and it was good fun.

Overall the weekend was OK but could have been better.  I’m not sure if it is something I will repeat next year.  As there is no coaching committee now, it is hard to see who woul organise it.

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