News05 Mar 2024

Coaches' Club ignites innovation at World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow


Laurent Meuwly speaks at the Coaches' Club in Glasgow (© Sena Bekric)

Over the course of three days, some of the world’s leading coaches, sports scientists and athletes gathered for the Coaches’ Club during the World Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 24 as they shared their experiences, learned and discussed ideas on how to further athletics.

The Coaches’ Club was organised by World Athletics in cooperation with the Global Athletics Coaching Academy (GACA) and the event featured the likes of former sprinter Carmelita Jeter, Helena Duplantis, Emma Ross and Laurent Meuwly. They each gave presentations and answered questions from coaches and participants. 

The coaching process is dynamic and it is characterised by complexity, especially in a sport like athletics. To navigate this process effectively, coaches need to possess different forms of knowledge such as professional, interpersonal and intrapersonal, and these were some of the conversations that dominated the airwaves in an event that took place in Glasgow from 1-3 March.

Two-time Olympic and world shot put champion Ryan Crouser is no stranger to the impact of coaching as he is one of the greatest throwers of all time. The US athlete, who improved his own world shot put record to 23.56m last year, stands out due to his complete self-coaching approach. After winning his first world indoor gold medal on Friday, he gave his address on the second day of the symposium.

The decision to take on the role of his own coach was somewhat serendipitous. 

"I began collaborating on my training regimen with my strength coach in the fall of 2015,” Crouser explained. “However, when my strength coach departed from the university in the spring of 2016, I found myself compelled to take on the responsibility of crafting my programme.”

Despite this, he’s not oblivious to the challenges that come his way, and some of the coaches and athletes in attendance were keen to know how he has been able to navigate the unchartered territory while remaining the best in the world. 

“The biggest challenge I have faced in self-coaching is finding a way to be objective in evaluating my training, mostly based on numbers as it’s easy to let emotions guide the sense of direction,” he said. “There is a sense of that is key in remaining flexible and listening to my body."

Ross is a sports scientist and co-founder of The Well HQ, a company that helps female athletes smash the taboo that blocks progress in sports. She has been on a journey to find ways to inspire more coaches to understand the female body, especially in sports. 

“The female body has been overlooked for a long time in sport, particularly because sport is a system that was designed for the male body,” Ross said. “Now there is a huge opportunity to say what if we understand the female body better, we can keep athletes healthier and available to compete, which will ultimately have a better influence on their performance.”

A lot of the things Ross does behind the scenes are preventive and psychological, managing athletes from getting injured or being held back by something that’s happening to them mentally. 

She added: “Some of the athletes that have spoken out about their menstrual cycles such as Jazmin Sawyers and Dina Asher-Smith say the symptoms of their menstrual cycle have impacted their ability to perform. My work has been all about getting those athletes to understand it better and giving them solutions on how to improve it in their athletic pursuits.”

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe was excited about the symposium, giving recognition to the importance of quality coaching and how much it influenced his career as an athlete. 

Aaron Gadson – team leader for Dominica and a triple jump coach – explained how the Coaches’ Club gave him the chance to learn more about different aspects of coaching that he had not previously considered. 

“I’m always trying to learn a little bit more and get a different perspective on coaching,” he said. “I think coaches in general need to be learning stuff and always be trying to get better. 90% of the athletes I coach are women, so I was glad to be available for Ross’ presentation as it made me think of better ways to approach them in training.”

On the last day of the event, World Athletics CEO Jon Ridgeon led the Coaches’ Forum as participants had the chance to ask questions and network with people from different countries. 

The Coaches' Club was established to provide the coaching community with an opportunity to glean first-hand insights from the championship experience. Tailored specifically for coaches, educators and key decision-makers in the realm of sports, this event aims to facilitate continuous learning and professional development within the coaching sphere.

Learn more about the Glasgow event and the Global Athletics Coaching Academy.

Deji Ogeyingbo of the Media Development Programme for World Athletics