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UK Coaching Team
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Talent and Performance

Ben Oakley: What Shapes a Sporting Champion?

In Ben Oakley’s book, Podium – What Shapes a Sporting Champion?, he considers what it takes for athletes to achieve their full potential. In doing so, he relates how his approach to coaching has changed as his knowledge and skills have grown

In his book, Podium – What Shapes a Sporting Champion?, Ben Oakley takes the innovative approach of combining the latest academic research with the stories of champions told in their own words. Spanning a wide range of sports and several decades, Ben’s book makes engaging reading for any coach working with talented athletes.

As an academic and former Olympic coach, Ben combines detailed first-hand knowledge of elite sport with the rigour of careful research.

Some of the physical factors are almost given, such as intense long-term training, the avoidance of major injury, excellent coaching, medical and scientific advice. But beyond these, Ben focuses on environmental factors including the influence of family and the size of the town or city where the athlete grew up.

Further, much of the book is concerned with the psychological factors, the attitudes, emotions and desires that enable athletes to achieve their potential.

As a young coach in a young sport, Ben was propelled to elite level work without a great deal of experience and it was eight years before his GB athletes reached the podium. His hindsight reveals some of the things he’d wished he’d known about Olympic coaching before he started.

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