270 leading sports coaches and practitioners from across Ireland attended last weekend’s National Coaching Forum at IT Sligo.
The event, which was organised by Coaching Ireland & The Irish Sports Council, highlighted the importance of quality coaching in developing athletes and providing opportunities for participants of all ages and abilities.
The two-day Forum covered a range of topics – from coaching children holistically, to performance analysis, strength and conditioning and applying sports research into learning.
There were keynote addresses from a host of national and international sports practitioners including Ireland’s Olympic boxing coach Billy Walsh, who made an impressive presentation on developing high performance and the need for continuous improvement at the elite level.
The role coaching plays in children’s development was a key focus too.
International children’s coaching experts Sergio Lara Barcial from Spain and American academic Dr Melissa Parker, who’s currently based at the University of Limerick, both stressed the importance of ‘’getting it right in the early years’.
Other speakers included Peter Stanley of UK Athletics – a former coach to Olympic triple jump champion Jonathan Edwards.
“The Forum was a huge success for Coaching Ireland and the visiting delegates,” said Michael McGeehin, Director of Coaching Ireland. “The calibre of our speakers was matched by the level of engagement and enthusiasm during the various Q&A sessions from the delegates who attended.”
The programme also included a range of practical workshops. The Kerry gaelic football fitness coach Dr Cian O’Neill delivered workshops on ‘The Principles of an effective warm-up.’ He revealed that Kerry’s level of preparation for their All-Ireland final success against Donegal included rehearsing the players shaking hands with their opponents before the pre-match parade.
There were also contributions from sports athletes such as Donegal gaelic footballer Karl Lacey and 16-year-old Youth Olympic boxing silver medallist Ciara Ginty from Geesala in County Mayo.
The Chief Executive of the Irish Sports Council emphasised the importance of the National Coaching Forum. “Without our coaches, sport simply can’t function in this country,” he said. “They are central of development of our athletes at all levels. It’s vital that we invest time and effort in helping them develop as coaches – which is where an event such as this comes in.”
Roddy Gaynor IT Sligo, Deirdre Lavin Sligo Sports & Recreation Partnership, Michael McGeehin Director Coaching Ireland, Sergio Lara Bercial, Dr Melissa Parker and Richard Bailey at the 2014 National Coaching Forum at IT Sligo.