Ask the Expert – Andy Woodward (Barnard Castle School)

Andy is the Strength and Conditioning Coach at Barnard Castle School and PEP Sports weeks performance sports camps, as well as the Throws and Speed Coach at Darlington Harriers Athletics Club.

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Give us a bit of background on yourself… (sporting career, qualifications, coaching experience).

Main sports were Track and Field, Rugby Union and Volleyball.  Represented Royal Air Force on the track in both the 100m and 200m in the 1990’s.  I hold a BA(Hons) in Sports Studies and PE from York St John Uni and an MSc in S&C from Teesside Uni.  I am a UK Atheltics Level 3 Performance Coach in Throws and Level 2 Speed and Jumps.

I am employed as an S&C Coach and Sports (Rugby, Athletics & Netball) Coach at Barnard Castle School where I work with both team sports and individuals from Years 3 upto 6th Form.  I started coaching, in the early 1990’s, as we had a large influx of youngsters into my local running club, Darlington Harriers and AC, and there wasn’t the coaching capacity to develop them so I worked my training around my coaching.

Since leaving the RAF in 2005 I have coached regionally with both Rugby League and Netball but my main passion is Track and Field where I am the lead Speed and S&C coach at my club.  I am also part of the England Athletics National Coach Development Programme for Speed.

What has been your biggest influence in your practice?

Watching and learning from others, both young and fresh and older and more experienced coaches.  I am a firm believer that you must develop your self to develop the athletes you work with.  You can do that in a number of ways but I find workshops the best for me.

What is your particular area of interest in sport?

In general how to develop athletes as individuals.  I work across a number of sports, both team and individual and everyone is different and you have to find out what makes them tick.  My main areas of interest at the moment are how to develop acceleration and speed in team sports and also how what is the minimum dose of training to get the most from the Track Sprinters I work with.

How do you think this particular area applies to youth athletes?

It is important to recognise early on that people are individuals that are creative and able to problem solve.  If we encourage this in games and PE then we are helping develop children who are able to explore and understand that failure is not a bad thing it is a stop on the route to success.

On the speed side I spend time with youngsters exploring how they would move effectively to get somewhere quickly.  What affects how we move quickly and why we might need to do this within their particular activity.  If we can get youngsters to understand their bodies at an early age and how it moves then, I believe, that even when children go through physical and emotional changes the skills of speed are not far away.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received as an athlete or coach?

Move away (Other side of the track/different position on pitch) from the athlete/s you are watching to slow movements down.  You can get sucked into micro coaching when you can potentially see the whole picture when you move further away or change position.

What advice would you give to coaches working with youth athletes?

Don’t be frightened to let youth athletes explore how to move and make their sessions fun.

Can you recommend any particular resources for personal development?

Nick Granthams – Strength and Conditioning Bible, High Performance Training for Sports – David Joyce,  Strength and Conditioning for Young Athlets – Rhodri Lloyd and John Oliver.

Also can’t recommend highly enough the work of Jonas Dodoo and his company Speedworks.  Just completed my 3rd workshop with them and all have been excellent

Where can people find out more about you and your work?

Twitter: @SandC_CoachAndy , @PEPSSPORTSWEEKS

Websites:  www.darlingtonharriers.co.uk , www.barnardcastleschool.org.uk , www.peps-sportsweeks.co.uk/

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Author: Athletic Evolution

Providing best practice in the athletic development and coaching of youth athletes.

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