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Athletic Development Centre celebrates anniversary.

“Turn up, stand tall, try hard and have fun”

fitness training exeterThese are the simple guidelines I set for athletes who attended the latest Athlete Support Day last week at Exeter University.

There are a lot of “pseudoscience” Talent Development models out there, but if a young person trains regularly, puts effort in, has good posture and recieves expert coaching: they will do well.

Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard”.

We started the day with a movement assessment, with the athletes working together to see what they did well, and where they might improve.  Upper body strength was a general weakness, as was single leg strength on the non dominant leg.

Why do girls avoid the shower?

We then did a talk about competition preparation, using checklists and how to eat before and after. I was staggered to hear that the girls in the group failed to shower after training or matches.

It turns out that this has a lot to do with body consciousness, with a lot of the girls playing with senior women and only having group showers. This is a concern, and when administrators are designing changing rooms for new complexes they should perhaps take this into consideration.

netball fitnessWe finished up with some agility progressions: sideways, starting and braking. A lot of the athletes are pretty good at accelerating, but hopeless at braking.

(You can see me trying to help on the stop).

The Netballers in the group especially appreciated the attention to detail: they have a big gap in their movement knowledge.

As usual parents and coaches were invited to turn up and take part, this time 2 of the parents brought their own expertise to the day: one physiotherapist and one nutritionist. 

It was very useful to have their input as well as from the other parents.

 Happy Anniversary

Thursday saw the 1 year anniversary since the launch of the Excelsior Athletic Development Centre.  It has been great to see the sucess stories like those who made their International debuts  but also to see the growth and maturity of all the young people who are becoming more self-reliant.

fencing fitness exeter(Like Ben and Rhiannon pictured here, both of whom follow the Sports Training System in between my coaching sessions).

As long as the athlete follows the 4 guidelines set out at the beginning, I will endeavour to support them, whatever their goals.

I have enjoyed working with the coaches from various clubs and organisations over the last year. I have listed our key partners along with a story about work we have done together:

Thanks to the following for hosting events:

The future

cricket fitness exeterThere have been some bumpy patches along the way: my coaching style is disagreeable to about 10% of the kids who turn up. I am quite direct and want precision and progression in movement.

I have had to remove myself from some locations and have stopped working with some organisations: their goals and mine have been too disparate.

If the organisation loses focus on the athlete, and instead worries about securing funding to support more administrators– I walk.

2014 will see me focussing harder on working with coaches and clubs who want the best for their athletes: rather than those who see players as “tickets” to their own glory. I want to get more local clubs involved (if it’s all about win on Saturday call someone else!)

excelsior athletic development centreI shall endeavour to provide more support to parents in their efforts to do the best for their kids whilst, trying to balance their busy lifestyles.

I shall continue to offer opportunities for coach education through our community of practice and will look to host a “biggie” later this year.

Most importantly, I aim to develop my ability to connect and enthuse with the teenage boys. There is a big gap between what they need (all round athleticism) and what they want (sport specific drills and “Get bigger biceps”).

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the Excelsior Athletic Development Centre over the last year: it really is a collaborative effort.

The next Athlete Support Day will be in February half term, if you want to take part please contact me. 


  1. […] Athletic Development Centre celebrates 1 year anniversary  […]

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Rugby Football League
James' knowledge of strength and conditioning has been a valuable resource that I have used to enhance the training programmes at 4 professional Rugby League clubs; Harlequins, St Helens, Whitehaven and Workington. He has had a positive impact on the performance of the athletes and added to the professional development of coaching staff

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Level 1 Strength and Conditioning Course – Somerset
08 Oct 2016

Level 1 Strength and Conditioning Course – Somerset

Venue: Princess Royal Sports Complex, Wellington, Somerset. TA21 8NT

Assessment Day: Sunday 6 November 2016

Cost: £270 including materials and access to online resources. To book send a deposit of £100 here.