British Cycling’s first ever coaching conference was held at the University of Birmingham on the 19th of May, with nearly 90 delegates treated to an illustrious line-up of international and domestic speakers.
Former pro rider nine-time national champion Roger Hammond closed the day with an ‘inspirational’ presentation which built on the impressive and popular talks from the likes of Prof. Asker Jeukendrup, Gear Fisher and Richard Cheetham.
“Truly inspirational” commented one attendee. “A wonderful opportunity to learn new things” commented another. The diverse programme ensured that there was something to appeal to everyone and plenty of opportunity for informal conversations with the experts.
The conference opened with a Keynote from Prof. Kathleen Armour from the University of Birmingham, which outlined the importance for coaches to engage in continuous career long-learning. British Cycling have fully engaged in these sentiments, through the announcement of the Licensing Scheme for Level 3 Coaches announced a few weeks ago which supports coach development.
Gear Fisher, Co-founder of British Cycling partner Peaksware, flew over from Colorado especially for the conference and ran a workshop outlining their software for endurance coaches and athletes to monitor, analyse and plan their fitness and nutrition for peak performance. Andy Kirkland, British Cycling Coach and Education Officer said that he was impressed to see how feedback from BC and Team Sky was used to continually help develop the software, so that it is such a valuable tool for our Level 3 coaches to use.
Another excellent presentation came from Richard Cheetham on “The impact of dynamic and creative coaching environments”. Clearly, he practices what he preaches, as his presentation style was definitely dynamic, creative and thought provoking: exactly what an effective coaching session should be.
The topical nature of the conference continued after lunch with Prof. Asker Jeukendrup’s presentation on “fat burning”. The Global Senior Director of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute gave a critical insight into how to evaluate the effectiveness of a number of methods to improve the fat burning capacity of athletes.
Dr. Nikos Ntoumanis presented a summary of some recent developments in motivation research and how these might be relevant for coaching, while Prof Andy Lane looked at the processes people use to control or regulate their emotions.
Dr. Geraint Florida-James from Napier University assessed the chaning world of performance analysis in Downhill Mountain Biking as Jayne Ellis provided an engaging and inspirational overview of the world of Talent ID in the paralympic scene. Thanks also go to Dr. Mark Griffiths, Lionel Reynaud and Prof. Richard Davison for their contribution to a hour long Q and A session.
The conference ended on a high note with a highly entertaining, moving insight into the life and motivations of a professional cyclist from top ex-pro Roger Hammond. Although it was a challenge to get Roger to present as he said he wasn’t “very good at public speaking” all agreed that he did an outstanding job.
He talked of the challenges of competing at a time when doping was endemic in the sport and the personal impact it had on him. On a more positive note, he spoke of how coaching and mentoring within the British Cycling Team meant that riders learnt all the skills that were required to win before riders are 20 years-old, rather than taking much longer through learning by trial-and-error.
British Cycling Coach and Education manager Andrew Gillott was delighted with how successful the conference was, noting a “great sense of engagement and a willingness to improve” from all the coaches in attendance.
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