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Triathlon Coaching - moving forward or not?

I totally agree with your comments above. I moved into triathlon from bodybuilding, and while very different pastimes the big thing that's struck me is how out-dated a lot of triathlon training info is.

At the end of the day all our bodies work on the same basic mechanics and principles, there may be differences due to diet, experience, personal physiology, etc. but the basics are, well they're the basics.

The things that amazes me in most coaching/ training advice I see is how much the philosophy is still train more, rather than train smarter. There's always talk about how the pros do 30 hours a week of training, and it's taken as the aspiration we should aim for. Yet it's an established fact that training breaks the muscles down, and rest is when we recover and improve.

I've considered going into coaching, but know I'd disagree with large sections of the training because it's so out of date.


  • jonEjonE Posts: 1,113
    Tesseract,just because you disagree with other coaches and ideas,it shouldn't prevent you.If your coaching produces positive results it works.We start to stagnate,we must evolve to improve,if we all read and follow Friels tri bible then we all will end up running to standstill.It is rare for athletes to stay with one coach,they require different stimulii to improve and hone their technique.What is to say your coaching will not be the latest Pose,Chi running,flexy yoga trend.Get the results,tell the world and make a mint.
    It does hack me off that so called experts have loads of qualifications, and sod all experience,they understand the principle but lack the knowledge.
  • FlavadaveFlavadave Posts: 749
    As a relative newbie, I guess all coaching is new and interesting. The swim coaching has been nothing short of a revelation and I'm sure the Rookie Day 2 will be equally so

    Whilst I'll agree that even in a short space of time the 220 training guides/plans are becoming a little stale, I think new technique after new technique can be a bit overwhelming for rookies.

    I'm sticking to the basics for now, keeping things simple i.e gradually trying to increase general fitness through training and avoiding injury. Not sure I'm quite ready for any innovations just yet. Give me a couple of years though and I'm sure I'll change my tune.
  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    When I did my tri coach thingy, there were many things that had me wanting to jump up & down & say, ' not actually true', or 'thats not how it works' from my fitness background, but knew that it would ruin the course for everyone else & end up in a day of discussion about the pros & cons of what ever I was objecting to, so I resolved to shut my mouth, get on with it, get the qualification & since I would not be being watched at other times I coach, by the powers that be, then I could go my own sweet way. I am however amazed at how resistant triathletes are to being shown or told something different.even if they 'don't know' (& this is not me saying I am an expert, so do as your told, I am firmly in the camp of being very aware that many people know much more than I do), they still have an idea of what they want from a coach & coaching & if you (I) come along & challenge that & make them think a little, quite often it does not go over well.
    Whilst I would bow to Cones superior knowledge of other sports I personally have seen little innovation outside of elite training, I was conditioning coach for the HPC set up in West Midlands for a while for the LTA & they barely saw the point of conditioning training & bear in mind I was coaching ages 8-18, so they should have little in the way of objections themselves, since it was not made compulsory by the LTA the parents gradually stopped bringing the kids & came later just to play tennis & get tennis coaching. I accept that maybe it was me..altho those that did 'get it' supported me & showed up week in week out...but since with the very small ones my job was to get them warmed up & ready to go onto court to be tennis coached as conditioning per se has little effect on that age group, that was the level of resistance I met. So Triathlon may not be so bad, but I believe all sports have a huge time lag before implementing new science/techniques/ideas & some of that must be down to avoiding falling for the latest new trend, but science & its application should see that off & the lack of CPD in coaching..I have no 'official' updates presented in a course since I qualified 2-3 years ago, its my own research that has lead me to change & do new things, plus it is my job which helps of course. It does also take a long time to write courses & get them approved, that sid it still isn't a pretty picture. I groan every time some one mentions lactic acid burning in my legs.....
  • GHarvGHarv Posts: 456

    Remember reading an article from Chris Boardman. He said in his opinion most triathletes want to be told what they are doing is right rather than how they can improve. (Tri PLus pilot edition)

    I remember reading also how Simon Lessing took umbridge with Boardman being brought along to a GBR training camp and moaning that Boardman new nothing about tri? (220 atricle)

    Radcliffe probably couldn't help with his running either or Grant Hacket his Swim.

    Maybe thats why he never made the leap from Olympic god to Ironman.

  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    Well we coach the hell out of all our athletes, we can be up to date..at the bleeding edge, but until someone in a position of power decides that the secret power of Soreen, Porridge, Red, etc etc can be made available to all, then we shall never dominate the world.
    Knitting lessons to all novices it's the way to go.
    Is anyone else watching Psychville?

    Now are you happy? Mr.C?
  • diddsdidds Posts: 655
    CH will have heard me say this before, but I perceive that there is a lot of "received wisdom" that gets churned out over and over again. CH has also had the benefit of working at far higher levels than I could ever hope to attain (which is why my rugby union level 3 has floundered on the rocks!), but at the more prosaic lower levels within rugby, and even at county youth, I have experienced an awful lot of "tell us what to do, when to do it, and don't make it esoteric". (Though coaches to be fair are keen to learn from each other; the keen ones anyway.) Well, that was me stuffed then because I'm jiggered if i am going to TELL a bunch of players to run around the pitch for 20 minutes to warm up, then just do backs move X to back row move Y following scrum channelling/wheeling Z. How boring is that?

    Anyhow - I digress.

    I have no knowledge of the triathlon coaching process (as in being a Tri coach) although I am interested in it (though not sure why!). I can only presume that here in the UK, the BTF awards follow UKCC routes; the "how to coach" bits must be very very similar within all sports, so i am really interested in Britspin's own experience of athletes that aren't interested in having their own answers drawn out of them and finding their own solutions (ask/delegate etc) but just want to have it placed in front of them in a manner they accept(tell/sell etc). It sounds very similar to my (senior) rugby coaching experiences.

    So - is it a case that in general people/Brits just want to be told what to do and how to do it so coaches live a dichotmy between what UKCC requires and what athletes expect, or is it just that despite UKCC's & BTF's best efforts there is so much received wisdom and so little ground breaking new ideas that coaches don;t feel they can go out on a limb?

  • durhamvamdurhamvam Posts: 246
    My experience is that people in general just want it laid out in front of them - this experience derives from working with students - undergraduate and postgraduate rather than athletes. If they can avoid thinking and get you to do it for them then that's great with them - sigh.

    It's sort of a "just down-load everything you know into my brain" kind of attitude which is very depressing to have to work with
  • TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    I have recently attained my BTA level 1, this was meant to provide me with information about how to best coach others and improve performance, it failed this in every way

    I can honestly say I didn't learn anything new during the whole course, now I don't want to bitch and moan about what is wrong with BTA coaching but my club did pay some £300 odd pounds for this course.
    I can understand that they didn't want to overload us with information and as a BTA level 1 we actually aren't supposed to do much actual coaching, but I thought I would have learnt something.

    In terms of development of performance, I don't have the experience others have in any way, shape or form. But I do have a pretty dam good understanding of the human body and physiological systems and how these can lead to improvements in performance. I hope therefore I can use this to help others as much as I can.
  • WannabetriWannabetri Posts: 219
    I blame the race sponsors and Universities!

    Until some one / company starts putting some real money and effort into research then we are never likely to move the ability of our coaches to better push our AG triathletes. When was the last time any AG coach or exercise physiologist ever read a published research article about triathlon specifically?

    Discussion take place on energy systems and effects of ergogenics on performance of triathletes, but what research is done to discuss effect of training regimes on performance? AG race tactics on performance against training?

    It saddens me a little to read how disappointed Tommitri was in the BTA Course as I am signed up to do it in due course. I fear that I may also come out with a deflated view on what the course actually offers.

    Having said that, should we be reliant on a governing body to make us the best coaches and give us the best tools? Should it be self ownership of development? How many AG coaches look at other sports like CH suggests? The All Blacks doing ballet, Wicket keepers learning footwork drills from goalkeepers, goalkeepers learning kicking drills from american football kickers. I can't think of one article in any magazine where any coach of any level has mentioned taking something from another sport, outside of swim, bike and run. Surely that's not right?!?!?
  • diddsdidds Posts: 655
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  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    So it seems the problem may lie with UKCC & homogenising everything, no matter what the sport. The next problem is lack of CPD...'did my qualification 5/10/15 years ago, don't need to do it again' unless you have read & researched & kept up you are out of date. Ensuring that the coaching is of a high standard, as in coach Cockhead with the skills of breeze block in human interaction, I believe a mentoring strategy was considered at TE, but I have no idea what happened to that. Then it is people/coaches & their willingness & ability to research & develop themselves, to keep ahead of the game to try some different stuff..funnily enough I used american football footdrills in my tennis conditioning coaching..oh & BTW I can't play tennis & was honest about that to all the kids & parents, but made it clear that I was not teaching them tennis I was conditioning them FOR tennis & since I competed at & coached triathlon then conditioning I knew..& of course my fitness qualifications.
    I similar to Mr.C am only L1 as far as TE are concerned, but lead, plan & present sessions for adults & juniors, I may well be doing L2 soon, purely to keep everything above board, but was put off by the price. & to a degree how un exeptional L1 was, in fact I sat in on some of the L2 course nutritional lecture & again wanted to jump up & say 'thats not quite true'....I may get it paid for by my employer or half by my club.
  • WannabetriWannabetri Posts: 219
    I know! Probably not going to be the greatest use of £300 quid and a waste of a weekend but more interested to see what it's all about. Under no great illusions that I will learn much at all. I also come from a fitness background but have moved more to the managerial and administration side, so perhaps I may 're-learn' a couple of bits.

    It's interesting to see that the coaching few seem to acknowledge there weaknesses yet I would suggest half the 'my-career is coaching' lot wouldn't be so forth coming with their own downfalls. More the do this, because I know it's right brigade.

    I can't honestly say that TC is moving forwards because I know in my own training I'm not doing anything different with it. Sure, the intensity levels, HR readings, speeds have increased but the overall shape of the programme and sessions are very similar.

    Is the fact that we do 3 different sports in one lump the limiting factor in improving coaching? Should TC coaches be qualified swim coaches, cycle coaches or run coaches or should they at least use there specialist people in conjunction with their own structure? Is there enough cross-referral in TC?
  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    I have never enquired as to the possibilty of prior credits for L1 or L2 courses..hmmm I wonder. Mind you they would still probably charge full price, but tell me that I can miss out weekend No2 or something.
    The REPS thing at least is a step in the right direction, all previous attempts have been run by training/equipment providers with a huge vested interest, so whilst REPS is not perfect it is a little better than that.
    One of the reasons I am not personal training on my own is that feeling that I do not know enough, then I go to FitPro & see the muppets that proclaim themselves PTs & wonder what I am worrying about. Then I realise I don't do sunbeds, hairgel or tell people what they want to hear, so thats me in the corner with the obese, the diabetics & today we have a lovely lady in a wheelchair who seems game for a laugh...oh & coaching kids & hopefully overhauling our club coaching...
  • jonEjonE Posts: 1,113
    Britspin makes a vital point that I see everyday when I go to the gym.The qualified experts,that is the gym instructors only seem to be interested in garnishing themselves in personal training and leaving the majority of gym users to their own devices.Why should a paying gym member ,£40+ a month pay extra for something that should be included in the subscription(rant and derailment stops).The ones that lose out are the ones that need the motivation,theyturn up do the bit on the bike,eliptic,treadmill,the same session that the were probably given when they first started x months ago,thinking that this is the best way because a QUALIFIED person has told them.It demoralises me,so what it does for them goodness knows.There appears to be no advancement.
    I am not qualified.full stop.no debate,I only have a view point.
    So if any rookie or newbie has got to this point without switching off or falling asleep,I ask this,
    ''If you decide to take on a coach,would you choose the advert that has the coach with the most qualifications or the one that says,has 15 years experience in Triathlon''

    Many years ago I taught climbing and caving techniques to youth organisations,I had no qualifications,just experience.Since H and S has taken a stance I was prevented from doing this.To get insurance cover,qualifications are needed,qualifications that can be gained by little experience.
  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    As ever Jon.E comes in with valid thought provoking stuff...I feel there is much to be said for experience, but that needs to be applied through sound knowledge. If the current coaching set up (in any sport) could be allowed to accommodate & still satisfy, H&S, insurers, CRB etc etc then we would lose far fewer good people who have valuable skills to apply than we do now. But how to achieve that? Does some of the 'arrogance' of 'qualified' coaches make that less likely?
    Oh and my experience..most gym users who come in & mindlessly do the same workout year in year out..it is sooooo hard to shake them out of that rut, I am not excusing in attentive instructors. But the best thing I ever did was to refit our gym..sadly can't afford to do that very often! They love their comfort zones..we as a bunch of athletes see it differently, a comfort zone is to be broken out of.
  • md6md6 Posts: 969
    this thread has been really interesting to read. as someon who comes from a background where i have had very little professional coaching in any sport at all - a little football when i was in my early teens. It does make me think that where coaching in concerned you do need a mixture of experience and 'qualifications' but i would have thought there would be a cpd requirement.
  • jonEjonE Posts: 1,113
    Perhaps I may be wrong with this next suggestion,
    What if a number of Tri Clubs got together to set up a New Coaching award/qualification,it may not have accreditation initially but if British Triathlon has a monopoly, is its accreditation really worth what it says it is,if it has no competition to object.If you want to do the job it seems you have to 'Pay the Piper',even if you disagree with the song thats playing.
    The clubs could set the standards that they want prior to entry into the scheme,such as 3 years experience including X number of races,so that anyone accepting them as a coach will know that they have the experience and knowledge,not just the knowledge,recommendations will come from the clubs themselves and any adverse reports could mean their accreditation being recinded.We must adapt and change or would a scheme like this not be viable,just a suggestion.
  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    I suspect that to a degree that is what happens at club level anyway, people vote with their feet & poor or inappropriate coaching will not get supported.
    Altho' I may 'only' have L1 award, I have coached above & beyond that with novices & juniors using my fitness knowledge to achieve with the knowledge & blessing of the club.
    I also accept that sometimes it also because no one else has volunteered...
    So altho' a club cannot produce accredited trainers/coaches they can produce quality coaches, & keep an eye on CPD, putting on half day refreshers etc, which is part of our plan at the moment. First we have to rival the rookie training days....
  • jonEjonE Posts: 1,113
    Another nail gets hit on the head with the Volunteers word rearing its head.Most clubs would die without the assistance of unpaid helpers,the good athletes are often too busy training to help,so it is left upto the old guard to keep the sessions going.
    Sorry going off on a tangent with that one.
  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    No tangent, you are correct, the go faster boys & girls are busy going faster, the newish don't feel they know enough to contribute yet, so it is the usual suspects that turn up & keep coaching eating into their training time & then they (we) are asked to keep up to date, first aid, child protection, CRB, H&S...and it goes on. Therein lies your difficulty.
  • WannabetriWannabetri Posts: 219
    Jon.E has beat me to the punch. A monopoly of qualifications and accrediation by the BTF mean that if you want to get that belnd of qualification and experience that the best coaches do/should do then you have no other option.

    BTF should be the accrediting board but not devise the training courses themselves. Why not let companies produce coaching qualifications to sell that meet certain requirements? Giving at least a choice and a competitive market? How can you not pay £300 when there is no alternative?

    I've always thought of exericse and fitness prescription being an education process and that we should be giving people the tools to be able to learn and develop their own programmes in the long-term. Our own knowledge is limited, and can only impart so much experience. Does each client have a finite period with a trainer, before they should move to another with different views and experiences?!!?

    I looked at a couple of jobs advertised at the BTF and I still don't understand what they do. Sure a regional rep was on £19,000 and had a whole heap of nonsense to do. What type of person are they likely to hire?
  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    I assume you are taking the fitness industry as a model with multiple providers sort of overseen by REPS. Hmmm... some questionable courses & providers there I would venture to suggest, but that is a job that the 'overseers/moderators' need to do better.
    The model in sport is the single provider..the FA do soccer courses, the RFU do rugby etc etc, good idea or not I don't know....we all have the option if not the time & money to widen horizons & for example take a cycle coaching course, or at least hook up with a cycle coach & shadow, build a relationship & steal ideas & techniques from, sorry 'share good practice' with, likewise running/sprinting/swimming & even some off the wall stuff like the proviously mentioned ballet for footwork (not vital in tri I have to admit). Mr Cone mentioned agility training..how many tri coaches do agility? A great way to bring something fun, new & challenging to winter training..with a possible payoff in season.
    I see the regional guys as facilitators at the moment, but with such a loose job description each individual can & does do wildly different things...if you read the regional columns in Tri Talk you will see the difference clearly, not sure if that is good or not..
  • diddsdidds Posts: 655
    wrt to BTF regional erps I'll guess they are a bit like the RFU's RDOs (rugby development officers).

    Several years ago they were very much the pointy end of the RFU's interface with the community clubs and schools... doing the coaching the coaches, doing sessions at clubs for players, organising the county coaching squads etc.

    these days they are nore a back room staff, orginasing the poeple that rogainse that stuff now. Working on sports partnerships, working with budgets, maybe being a line manager to community rugby coaches.

    I would guess that this is where the BTF reps probably fit in.

    FTR if you can get to be able to leapfrog the L1 course with accredited prior learning its "only" £125 for the assessment at Level 1.

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