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Set your #CGResolution today!


GCG2014_Main_LogoRGBWednesday the 23rd July will signify the start of the XX Commonwelath Games. During an amazing 11-days of sport, millions of people around the world will be witness to exceptional feats of sporting talent and prowess. Medals will be won, records broken and tears will be shed. Another generation will be inspired to run, jump, grapple and throw in events ranging from Athletics to Wrestling.

However, what many of the millions of spectators will fail to see are the vast numbers of hours spent in training with a vast array of coaches and volunteers from around the world.  And we’re not just talking about the elite coaches who will be representing their respective countries at the Games. We’re also talking about those involved in supporting the very first steps each of the Commonwealth athletes took in order to develop their love, passion and skill within their chosen disciplines.

Harnessing inspiration is not an easy thing to do, but that’s exactly what coaches around the globe will be called upon to do as soon as the curtain drops on this year’s Games.  Just like after London 2012 (and many games before them), it is coaches that will be largely responsible for bringing the legacy of this year’s Games alive.

Training is generally not glamourous and sometimes its not even fun.  Nevertheless, coaches continually have to find innovative and creative ways to engage generations of athletes to develop their love for a sport, then take that love and shape it into an uncompromising desire to realise someone’s potential.  The journey is long (approximately 10,000 or 10-year’s if you’r to believe the likes of Coyle and Gladwell) and it often filtered with hardship, setbacks, injury and failure.  This is not an easy journey and one which requires the help of a number of dedicated, knowledgable, creativey and inspiration coaches to help guide the way.

As you watch the athletes at this year’s events, give some thought to how prepared you are to inspire that eight-year old child who believes they want to be a future Commonwealth Champion.  If, like me, you know that in order to keep raising the bar for these future stars its essential you keep developing yourself, then why not set yourself a Commonwealth Game resolution or #CGResolution and send us your thoughts via Twitter or Facebook .  We’ll feature the best ones in our upcoming INSIDE COACHING magazine, which will be focussed on Talent and Developing the Talent Pool.

Inclusive Boxing packs a real punch


When somebody first mentioned the idea of disability boxing to me, I must admit to thinking “you must be mad!”

Whilst interest in boxing has steadily been growing over recent years, there are still those who consider ‘the sweet science”too dangerous’ and therefore, definitely too risky for disabled participants…how wrong they are.

CHIOW met with Lucy and Stu O’ Connor back in April to sound out some ideas around developing a disability boxing session at their club in Eastleigh. Given our efforts to create the Disability Coaching Network, we were obviously intrigued.

Both Stu and Lucy are in the Royal Navy and like many volunteers, juggle a full-time job with full-time hours volunteering at their club. However, not satisfied with their 300% growth in their first year, their passion is such that they want to bring the sport to communities that have previously been denied the opportunity.

The timing for their proposed growth falls in line with a proposed expansion of their current facility.  Though only a year old (they celebrated their  one-year birthday on 4th March 2014) they are already out-growing the space they inhabit at the home of Hampshire County Cricket, the Ageas Bowl.

“Its amazing to think that we’ve grown from the two of us to 424 members in just twelve months”, declared Lucy.

However,the club has not rested on its laurels and continue to grow by providing outreach schemes in local schools, including Wilden, Bursledon and Woodlands.  With growing membership the club have had to grow their coaching team as well and now have six qualified coaches to support both the largely recreational and competitive boxing membership.

We’re very much a family club and provide for those members who wish to conduct boxing training for fitness as well as those who wish to compete.  Our members range from  7-70.  Many of our coaches are parents who brought their kids to the club to box and then just wanted to get involved.  At a guess I’d say less than 10% of our membership is interested in competitive contact boxing.  The rest just love the training and developing their skills and confidence.

So why disabilty boxing?

Stu explained,

…to be honest we hadn’t given disability boxing much thought until one of our own boxers walked into the gym and asked if he could join. We both scratched our heads, but were willing to give it a try and since then we’ve been thinking about creating a new opportunity for people who are disabled.

Dan Rush has Cerebal Palsy.  He walked through the doors of the club around 6-months ago, explaining he wanted to box.

Dan tells us what he can and can’t do, but there isn’t much he can’t do.  In fact he often embarresses other members of the club with what he can do and they can’t.

Whilst some might find it surprising that the notoriusly traditional England Boxing (formerly the Amateur Boxing Association for England or ABAE) is now opening its eyes to the potential of disability boxing in growing its popularity.  Given the struggles women have had to go through to be recognised as equal partners in the sport, there is a surprising willingness by the ABAE to explore this new market.  However, the recent sanction of Deaf Fighters by the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) has opened up the sport to some communities that may not have previously considered the sport had a pathway for them.

Since meeting Stu, Lucy and Club Chairman Richard Butriss, the group have been doing their homework, visiting a club in France that already has an established inclusive boxing programme.

Stu addresses his recreational boxers at their home base at the Ageas Bowl.

Stu addresses his recreational boxers at their home base at the Ageas Bowl.

Sport Hampshire & IOW have also been doing some research and plan to bring two experience coaches from the north of England to Hampshire, to help Poseidon and other interested parties, develop their skills and knowledge around a more inclusive approach.

Peter Hull, Disability Sports Development Officer for the county explains,

We’re working with local Sports Development Officers and sports groups to gauge the interest in boxing.  However, we’re not planning to run before we can walk, so our first steps will be to work with those from the deaf community and once we have a working project, we’ll explore pan disability opportunities with other clubs around the county. It’s vital that we create better links with non-sporting organisations to share the offer and evaluate the demand.

We’ve also sought the support of the England Boxing and will be joined in this endeavour by Avoen Perryman, Club Support Officer for the South East region.

I’m really excited by the prospect of developing something innovative and inclusive, which uderpins the England Boxing’s social-inclusion agenda.  Having spoken to other clubs across the region, there’s a great deal of interest in the initiative and I hope we’re in a position to replicate this on a much wider scale after we launch the pilot with Poseidon.  We’re building on work that has taken place in th North West and Yorkshire, but this will be the first project of its kind in the South.

One of the keys to the programmes success will be coaching and CHIOW will support the project by developing the training programme and monitoring the results.  Plans are afoot to launch the first round of coach education this summer with a view to sessions getting underway by autumn.

If you know of anyone from the deaf community who might be intersted in getting involved, then please get them to contact Peter Hull on or get in touch with Stu and Lucy via the club email

UK Coaching Summit: An Embarressment of riches


Its been a couple of weeks since Emily and I attended the 6th UK Coaching Summit in Glasgow.  This was my 5th visit (and Emily’s 1st) to the conference and understandably my expectations were high.  Every year I’ve attended delegates have been offered a broad programme of keynotes and workshops, challenging our perception of high-quality coaching, support and developmental approaches.   Speakers have included World-Class coaches and athletes, as well as World Leading coach developers, performance anylists and performance directors from both team and individual disciplines.  Whether you’re from a National Governing Body (NGB), part of England Coaching Network or somebody who simply has a passion for sport and sports coaching, you’d struggle to leave the event without something of value.UK Coaching Summiti

A Master Class in coaching philosophy

This year’s event was no different!  Opened by BBC’s Jill Douglas, the delegation was inspired by the opening key note by former British Lion and current Glasgow Warriors Head Coach, Gregor Townsend.  Gregor shared his thoughts on creating high-performance learnng environments for players and coaches. He reflected on his own experience of learning, sharing some of the more impactful books he has read, books which have shaped his coaching philosophy and behaviours (check out The Carolina Way by Dean Smith, Good to Great by Jim Collins,  Practice Perfect, The Double-Goal Coach by Jim Thompson).  He rounded off his summary of his daily coaching principles (celebrate achievement, challenge underperformance and highlight/reward effort) with an introspective on his own coaching philosophy and principles, explaining

Coaching equals love! The basis of all warrior cultures is love.  It’s important you love what you’re doing and that you are passionate enough to show that love [in front of and] to your players and coaching staff.

This inspiring opener was followed up by one session after another of first class speakers, many of whom would not have looked out of place on the stages of TED Talks.

The fight for a more inclusive workforce

sport coach UK’s Mike Fisher led a session on equality in coaching, focussing on some of the innovative work being done by England Athletics and our very own Project 500.  The basic premise of increasing numbers of female, disabled people and ethnic minorities in coaching is essentially to increase choice and the number positive roles models for all members of society.  Its an area of coaching development that many are committed to, but no one has come up with a scientific approach to resolving.   Nevertheless, sports coach UK have spent the last year working with England Athletics, developing a solid research based for understanding the barriers to female recrutiment within the sport and a variety of solutions to changing the status quo.  The reports recommendations include: -

  1. Intergrate & Increase: focus on running courses with 50:50 ratio of men to women
  2. Develop accessible formats: explore bite-size learning options and blended learning e.g. on-line learning
  3. Improve pre-course information: help to demystufy the coach education experience e.g. pre-course video
  4. Develop mentoring schemes: mentors are proven to improve the coaching journey and individual efficacy for new coaches
  5. Increase Role Models: make female coaches and coach educators more visible

The early results of the research are promising, with both male and female coaches reacting positively to some of the changes to pre-course information, gender-balanced courses and the increase in use of female tutors in coach education delivery.

Leoni Lightfoot, Coach Development Manager for England Athletics commented:

Making the video has really made a significant impact in helping to improve the confidence of both men and women coming into the coach education environment for the first time.  The project has also really helped us to understand the important role that tutors can play in overcoming the barriers of personality and confidence.  Its a great start, but we still have a lot of work to do.

Cisco Learning at UKCoachingSummit

Jay Sriskanthan of CISCO Systems with Rachel Hopper, sport coach UK’s lead on eLearning

Whilst there were other powerful sessions on Talent by Sport Scotland’s Tony Stanger (see our blog on CHIOW’s new Talent Coach Academy to see how Tony’s views on ‘the talent pool’ have influenced our plans) and Mentoring in the Welsh Valleys (we’ll talk about our plans for mentoring in a future article), one of the most impactful sessions for me was delivered by someone who knows very little about sports coaching, but is an expert in developing creative IT solutions to support teaching and learning.

Jay Sriskanthan is a Senior Learning and Development Consultant at Cisco (Tweet Jay @CISCO-Learning) and wowed the audience with some of the most cutting-edge technology currently available which allows organisations to teach and collaborate remotely, create immersive learning environments, and enhance the learning experience for learners.  Whilst some of the technology Jay described is so new its not likely to be seen in coaching environments in the very near future (check out the Internet of Everything), some of the concepts around partnership, collaboration and the use of video conferencing to enhance learning, definitely gave the audience some food for thought.

Jay’s session challenged delegates to think more creatively about how they deliver coach education.

We must not be restricted by the old ways of doing things.  We need to think differently about how we utilise new teachnologies to create effective learning opportunities.  Technology does not mean doing things expensively. We all have mobile phones and like it or not video is here to stay, so start experimenting.  Technology is changing, but more importantly so are people’s expectations.


There were other sessions that we took learning from, but simply too many to summarise here.  The close of the conference witnessed Winter Olympics coaches Tony McAllister and Rhona Howie share the realities of coaching in the lead up to a major event and the challenges of coachnig during this year’s Winter Olympiad.  Both talked about philosophy, consistency, sacrifice and passion and we’ll bring you a more detailed reflection on Rhona’s philosophy in a future article.  For me their insights and honesty capped off an amazing two-days of learning, introspection and reflection.  Twitter Feed Metoring

After a ferocious two-days of tweeting (for which we’d like to than all our new followers), both Emily and I came back with more ideas than we know what to do with, but both of us remain inspired to share our ideas and learning with our local network and our coaches with the aim of making Hampshire and the Ilse of Wight one the best coaching counties in the UK.

CJ Lee
Coaching Development Manager
Sport Hampshire & IOW

Coaching Hampshire & IOW unveils new Talent Coach Academy


Hampshire and the Isle of Wight has been a hot bed for talented athletes for a number of years.  Names like Kelly Sotherton (Athletics), Theo Walcott (Football), Ben Ainsley (Sailing), Peter Charles (Show Jumping),  Peter Waterfield (Diving), Euwan Thomas (Athletics) , Alex Danson (Hockey) and Dani King (Cycling) are synonomous locally, nationally and on the world stage.

However, what we rarely recognise is the wealth of coaching experitise that helped these once unknown stars realise their talent potential.  In other words who are the people behind the athletes and what do they know that could help the next generation of coaches carry on the county’s proud tradition of harnessing sporting talent.

For the past four years our Local Coaching Network has started to create some targetted opportunities to support coaches who work with today’s and tomorrow talented athletes.  All four of our Universities have made both general and very specific contributions to helping coaches understand the needs of talented athletes, elite training environments and the subsequent coaching behaviours required to develop performance.  Equally school sport and PE has made a substantial contribution to engaging interest and developing a passion for sport in our young people as well as providing a competitive platform to allow some of our talent to flourish.

In 2011 Coaching Hampshire & IOW introduced Talent Coach Breakfast Clubs  and Talent Foundation workshops which seemed to appeal to a large number of designated NGB talent/performance development coaches as well as a growing number of club coaches who have been developing talent in isolation for a number of years.  Initial feedback was positive and we plan to build on that foundation over the next couple of years.

Nevertheless, we feel that we can do even more and are teaming up with sports coach UK, a number of NGBs and our local Universities to create a new Talent Coach Academy to recognised and support of the work of two specific groups of coaches.

What is Talent?

This is no easy question and is one that smarter men than me have struggled to define.  It is, however, useful to make a disctinction between the use of the word ‘talent’ and its scope for the sake of clarity across our work.  Talent on the on the one hand can be used to describe someone with the raw material (usually in the guise of physical attributes) to develop world class performance in this or that sport.  This notion of talent is not easy to quantify (see Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers, Daniel Coyles ‘The Talent Code’ or Stuart Armstrong’s ‘The Talent Equation’) and is not always realised, but it is a notion commonly used by governing bodies and coaches the world over. 

The the other notion of talent we’ll be using in the Academy is that whereby a coach demonstrates ‘a talent’ to consistently create an environment to realise performance potential in a series of athletes over a series of years.  These coaches may not always work in the talent/performance end of the spectrum, but nevertheless play an important role in ensuring athletes aspire to love their sport and make continuous progress.  These coaches by definition ensure that we maximise the talent pool by keeping people involved in sport, develop a passion for a wide variety of sport and help develop the [growth] mindset of athletes (young and older) that will help to achieve their goals and fulfil their potential.

So our aim will be to on the one hand we will work with those coaches who work with talented athletes and on the other hand work with coaches who demonstrate talent [in any coaching domain], whether that be in recreational, talent development or performance sport.

The Talent Coach Academy

Our talent academy with be comprised of four key components: -

  1. Player-centred, coach led philosophy
  2. Identification and Recognition
  3. Learning and Support
  4. Reaserch and Development

Each of the components will involved varying levels of delivery.  For example, the Learning and Support component will involve a series of bespoke workshops looking at athletic performance, mindset, long-term athlete development and deliberate practice.  Workshops will aim to build a bridge between athletes, coaches and parents, acknowledging the importance of the critical role each of these have in realising talent.  In addition we’ll be working closely with Southampton Solent University to encourage coaches with Talent Athletes to join Solent’s newly developed MSc in Athletic Development & Peak Performance.   Finally, mentoring will also play a key role in both identifying talented coaches and supporting any coach who wants to develop some expertise in coaching talent.

Whilst the Talent Coach Academy concept is new, we are building on existing infrastructure and good practice within our coaching network.  So what, you may ask, is new?

Even the most genetically advantaged still need to be nurtured and those without the advantage could potentially overcome their disadvantages and be even better given the right kind of support.

Stuart Armstrong, RFU

In the past despite the efforts of a variety of partners in the county, our support for coaches working with talent has been ad hoc and patchy.  Whilst some governing bodies do a lot support their appointed English Talent Pathway Coaches, there is generally inconsistent support for this wokring in clubs.  Our plan aims to link the expertise from identified by governing bodies and other coach development programmes e.g. Sport England’s STRIVE programme and UK Sport’s INSPIRE/ASPIRE programme, to those coaches working day-in, day-out with the talent on the ground.

Furtmore whislt we hope to create a bridge for those coaches aspiring to work at the performance end of sport, we also want to support and recognise the efforts of those who are essential to maximising the size of our talent pool by creating the spark for the athlete who aspires to one day turn their potential into greatness.

The Talent Coach Academy will officially launch this summer, but keep your eye out for updates a new events being added to the calendar over the coming weeks.

A Message from Kevin Harris, Southampton Solent University:

Picture of students exhibithing their Coaching Innovation Project, Heart of the Community

Heart of the Community is a porject aimed at reducing isolation in the elderly through physical activity.


Firstly, on behalf of the Sports Coaching and Development team, I’d like to say a big thank you to you for attending this year’s Coaching Innovation Symposium. We received a lot of positive feedback for the event, as well as the projects. In addition, we would like to thank you for providing us with your feedback and any recommendations, which we will use to improve the event for the following year. We will also be passing on comments about the projects to allow the students to continue to develop their skills and for next year’s students to prepare for your questions!

This method of assessment is becoming increasingly popular, as it allows the students to interact with practitioners, discussing a real life project based around contemporary issues within the community. We would not be able to continue to do this for the students without the level of attendance received this year, so again we sincerely thank you.

We are pleased to announced that, while we are proud of all of our fantastic Coaching Innovation Projects this year, the winner of the Kukri sporting goody bag will be going to the girls of ‘Heart of the Community’, receiving the most votes on the night!

Once again, a massive thank you and we look forwards to seeing you next year! If you have any questions regarding the Coaching Innovation Programme, please do not hesitate to contact me (

Social Coaching: beyond performance


Last week I was reminded about the immense power of coaching at totally opposite ends of the participation spectrum. On Wednesday (30th April) I spent most of my day on the road, travelling to a sports coach UK partner event in Nottingham, where approximately thirty of my England Coaching Network colleagues met to discuss our strategies on supporting the coaches involved in UK’s talent landscape.  It was a massively powerful day and really resonated with me as a coach. I was forced to reflect on some of my own past and present experiences of working within the talent and performance domain. I love talking about talent development and contemplating ways to support our local talent coaches as well as developing new strategies and skills to improve my own coaching and my athletes.

However, on Thursday I attended two very different events which couldn't have been further from the talent topic and yet have so many connecting threads, and were, to my surprise, equally inspirational.
Read more…

A night full of Stars!


Last night St. Mary’s Football Stadium once again played host to the annual Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Sports Awards, proudly run and hosted by Hampshire County Council and Sport Hampshire & IOW.

CJ Lee presents the Performance Coach of the Year Award to Gymnastics Coach, Anne Bidmead.

CJ Lee presents the Performance Coach of the Year Award to Gymnastics Coach, Anne Bidmead.

More than 300 people from sports clubs around the county and the Isle of Wight turned out to recognise the individual and collective achievements of some of the counties most bright sporting stars.

Amongst the 17 different categories coaching was represented by six nominees across two categories. In the Participation Coach of the Year category nominees included: -

  • Barry Alldrick (Swimming)
  • Andrea Merritt (Swimming)
  • Emma West (Gymnastics)

In the Performance Coach of the Year catergory the nominees were: -

  • Bryan Andrews (Martial Arts)
  • Julian Such (Gymnastics)
  • Anne Bidmead (Gymnastics)

As is the norm the competition was stiff but everyone agreed that both Andrea (participation) and Anne (performance) were deserving winners and did a great job of representing female coaches across the county. Both winners were awarded trophies and a voucher (sponsored by COACHING HAMPSHIRE & IOW) towards thier continuing self-impovement in coaching.

After the obligatory post-presentation photo call, Coaching Development Manager, CJ Lee, commented:

It’s a real pleasure for us to be supporting two of the counties exceptional coaches in two very different categories, but of equal importance, to the development of potential talent and performance athletes.

Following the event we briefly spoke to Anne about how they got into coaching and what motivates them to keep going.

My daughter was up a fence at 18 months so I looked for a gymnastics club for her to join and I decided to help out for a term. A few years on, I’ve stayed as the kids are the drivers, sounds like a cliché but I wanted to get the kids off the streets and train quality coaches to support the kids. We have 2,300 kids coming to club sessions every week but there are more who we can reach to, helping them make a lifestyle change. I’d like to thank Basingstoke & Deane BC who are so supportive and proactive to help us achieve so much.

Anne Bidmead

We plan a series of more indepth interviews with a number of the shortlisted coaches, so watch this space or catch a copy of INSIDE COACHING to learn more about this years nominees and winners.


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