- Give us a bit of background on yourself… (sporting career, qualifications, coaching experience)
I was always a bit of an all-rounder in terms of sports at school. I attended Loughborough for my undergraduate degree in Sports Science & English. It was during this time that my passion for athletic development & S&C really took off. I started competing in Powerlifting & became fascinated in designing strength training programmes for both myself & others as a result. Upon graduation I was lucky enough to go straight into an S&C Internship at Bath Rugby working alongside & learning from a brilliant group of S&C’s. From here I worked freelance for a few years, before taking the plunge back into academia at Exeter University studying for an MSc in Paediatric Exercise & Health. Specialising in the development of young athletes had always been something I had wanted to do. The MSc gave me the knowledge base to do this & led to me working with Exeter City FC Academy as Lead Academy S&C. I am currently working at Southampton FC where I am Academy Strength & Conditioning Coach, a role I have been in for 2 years.
- What has been your biggest influence in your practice?
That interpersonal skills & how you deliver a session are a key attribute to any successful S&C coach. I believe you can design the best programme in the world, but if you cannot enthuse & inspire your athletes, then you will never optimize its effectiveness. I try & remember this before every session.
- What is your particular area of interest in sport?
The implementation of individualised strength & conditioning programmes to optimise performance.
- How do you think this particular area applies to youth athletes?
By understanding the mechanisms that underpin strength gains at different stages of maturation, we can then help create optimal athletic development programmes. This, combined with understanding the training age & injury history of the athlete can help ensure appropriate training prescription at each stage of the developmental process.
- What is the best piece of advice you’ve received as an athlete or coach?
That the best coaches in the world are thieves!! …..What I mean is that you must never stop striving to learn & develop as a coach, create a strong network of professionals you can bounce & ‘borrow’ ideas from!
- What advice would you give to coaches working with youth athletes?
Understand that we are playing a long term game. Aim at developing physically literate & robust young athletes who enjoy physical activity. Make sure you see the bigger picture. Of course we want all our young athletes to make it big, but not all will become that next sporting superstar. Therefore, we have a broader ethical role to play in ensuring that all those in our care have a positive sporting experience & as a result adopt lifelong physical activity patterns.
- Can you recommend any particular resources for personal/coaching development?
I would recommend reading ‘Strength & Conditioning for Young Athletes’ as a great starting point for those looking to increase their knowledge around S&C for young athletes.
- Where can people find out more about you and your work?
Like everyone I enjoy the odd Tweet: @MattDepledge & I am on LinkedIn, so feel free to get in touch with me there!
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