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IFAC Reflections Part 2
January 22, 2019
A review of Jerome Simian’s workshops on physical preparation for sport. I had to choose between different “strands” of coaching topics at the IFAC conference in Loughborough. A difficult choice, not wanting to miss out on some excellent speakers. I chose to attend Simian’s because of a quote I heard on the HMMR podcast: “I […]

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“It’s the people business stupid”: GAIN 2013

Coaches are in the people business

GAIN I have just returned from another fantastic GAIN (Gambetta Athletic Improvement Network) in Houston, Texas.

The 5 day event was full of ideas, tips and sharing of coaching philosophies.

This year Vern Gambetta opened the conference with a quote from Frank DickWe don’t coach javelin throwers, runners or jumpers. We coach people who happen to throw, run or jump”.

This idea occurred time and time again throughout the conference. There was plenty of whys, whats and how tos, but it all means nothing if you fail to bring the people with you.

I shall be reporting on the nuts and bolts in more detail in a few weeks time. I need to reflect on what we did, review my notes and then practice some of the things. It’s all too easy to come back with “Monday’s workouts” written down.

Cross Pollination of Ideas

Andy Stone wrestlingThis conference is unique in my experience in that it brings people from different nations, different sports (e.g. lacrosse, cricket, track and field, soccer, gridiron, ice hockey, field hockey, wrestling, Aussie rules, rugby, cross country skiiing, downhill skiing, swimming) and different practices (sports coaches, chiropracters,athletic development coaches, physiotherapists, athletic trainers, strength and conditioning coaches) and puts them together to share knowledge and practices.

We all tend to be a bit bunker bound within our own sport, country or profession. Looking at an athlete from all these different view points enables us to step back and see with fresh eyes. This was true interdisciplinary learning.

It is refreshing to see people like Jim Radcliffe and Bill Knowles sat through lectures furiously writing notes down.


GAIn learning

  • Some highlights for me, in no particular order:
  • Every day is pancake day at GAIN, meal time conversations is where the real learning takes place.
  • Andy Stone skipping master class (not on the agenda, but added bonus).
  • Land training for swimmers by Nick Folker, learnt more from this hour and chats with Nick than I have done in last 3 years observing “dryland training”.
  • Clay Erro on coaching young people in a school setting. “Everything we do in life is a cooperative endeavour”.
  • Olympic Panel: lessons learnt from the past Olympics and ones before, including how to get the athletes self reliant and their warm ups robust.
  • Greg Thompson’s P.E. class one morning: every kids should benefit from this type of teacher and session content.
  • Cross country skiing chat with Head Coach Bryan Fisher: learnt more about Heart Rate training at breakfast than I have in my life. Gold dust.
  • Steve Magness on applying science in the coaching environments: YES he gets it and does it.
  • Jim Radcliffe’s practical sessions in the gym and out of the gym: this guy is outstanding and he works hard at being able to do it.
  • Vern Gambetta on coaching pedagogy Know the basics, master the basics, don’t deviate from the basics”.

But the overall highlight is having great people, who are all trying to get better, sharing ideas and inspiring each other to do the same.


  1. […] in situations where we can share, discuss and interact. For example, the difference between GAIN which is a CoP and the UKSCA conference which is “lecture driven” means one is a deep […]

  2. […] Radcliffe said this at GAIN this year. “Synchronisation” was one of the main themes of the Coach/Teacher CPD […]

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