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Improving Physical Ability

Guide to Understanding Athletic Development and Physical Preparation

With this comprehensive guide on the Coach learning Framework’s ‘Understanding Athletic Development and Physical Preparation’ theme – jam-packed with practical tips, ideas, and the key points you’ll need to start putting what you learn into practice – you’ll find the knowledge and tools to help you support participants to build their physical literacy, enhance their physical capabilities and achieve their training goals

The concept of athletic development is aligned to that of physical literacy, physical preparation and injury prevention. These are the three essential components that enable participants to engage in lifelong physical activity through an integrated system that enhances potential.

This guide – exclusive for UK Coaching Club Subscribers – will help you develop the essential foundations that will enable your participants to engage in lifelong physical activity.

  • Fundamental Movement Skills and physical literacy. Discover how you can support your participants to develop essential skills and build their physical literacy.
  • Growth and maturation. Understand the impact that growth and maturation has on the development of an individual.
  • Injury prevention, rehabilitation and supporting returning to competition. Learn how to reduce injuries and risks, manage the return to training and play and support participants to achieve their training goals.

The importance of physical literacy throughout the life course cannot be underestimated: the adage from cradle to grave is very true. From our first steps through to eating, holding a pen, water safety, riding a bike and playing sport, engaging in physical activities such as walking, dancing, and life activities like carrying shopping and posture; through to getting in and out of a chair in our later stages, physical literacy underpins these moments, life events and opportunities.

The journey

Whether we are playing with our friends, participating in a community sports activity, walking with the family, carrying out household chores, progressing through a talent pathway in our chosen sport or delivering on the Olympic stage, we need to be able to move efficiently and effectively.

The journey will always be general movement, progressing to related movement through to specific movements; however, each of these components can be developed alongside each other. In the early stages of the journey, general movements will be the main focus, while the related and specific movements will play much smaller roles. This manipulation or focus of ‘emphasis’ is the key tool in the coach’s toolbox.

This process is not linear: you don’t need to have all the movement vocabulary before you start to explore other movement challenges (although having some physical ability does help).

The aims of the journey are the:

  • development of sound movement vocabulary through high quality development and coaching
  • deduction (and elimination) of poor movement patterns that will lead to injury
  • appropriate progressions to progressively increase the frequency, intensity, duration and load of training and competition (technical, tactical, physical and mental).

Development of all areas is crucial to ensure a positive experience regardless of level, experience and progression (performance level).

"Everything starts with movement."

Individuals often have limited awareness of their ‘physical’ self as a growing and developing participant. They tend not to understand the changes happening to their body as they grow and develop, their physical strengths, challenges and areas of development.

They often have unrealistic expectations about their own physical status (current capacity) as well as their development needs and it is our responsibility as coaches to nurture their awareness, understanding and increasing their capacity and function.

The earlier we start the journey, the better.

Become part of the exclusive UK Coaching Club to unlock this guide and you’ll also gain access to 25 videos, tips, webinars, expert opinions, downloads infographics, and guides on the ‘Athletic Development and Physical Preparation’ theme of the Coach Learning Framework, including:

Use this guide, as well as the accompanying resources you’ll unlock by becoming a UK Coaching Club Subscriber, to learn how to develop and enhance physical capabilities at your coaching sessions.

To unlock this guide as well as all the Coach Learning Framework themes, guides and resources, you need to subscribe to the exclusive UK Coaching Club.

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UK Coaching Team