Ask the Expert: Dave Hembrough (Sheffield Hallam University & Hallam Barbell)

Dave Hembrough is the founder and head coach of Hallam Barbell Weightlifting and Strength Training Club and Sheffield Hallam University’s lead S&C coach, as well as co-leader on the MSc program in Strength and Conditioning Coaching. He has a Sport Science undergraduate degree, a MSc in Sport Injuries and Rehabilitation as well as a PGDip in Advanced Business Engagement. Dave leads the UKSCA ‘Health, Wellbeing and Social Change’ special interest group and sits on the British Weightlifting England Committee. He is also the UKSCA Development Coach of the Year 2019. He prides himself on being purposeful, value based and making a difference with action.

1)What has led you into youth sport?

Wanting to make a difference where it matters. I believe that the benefit of sport is further reaching than physical and if we can help young people by providing them with those benefits early on in their lives then there is a greater chance of them maintaining a relationship with physical activity and having happier. healthier lives later on. Hallam Barbell also want to create future champions. To do that it’s important that journey starts at a relatively young age. 

2) What has been your biggest influence in your practice in youth sport?

The recognition that its better than professional sport. I have worked in different environments, in different sports and at different levels. From University sport, 2012 Olympics Games and Glasgow 2016 Commonwealth games to world champions in boxing and European Tour golf… coaching kids is more fun, more rewarding. You get more thanks and it makes a more important difference. 

3) What is your particular area of interest?

I am exploring a wider context for the application of Strength and Conditioning as a discipline than helping athletes run faster, jump higher and to throw a spear further. I coined the term ‘S&C for social change’ to reflect all the wider benefits that S&C has to offer outside of physical and I head the UKSCA ‘Health, Wellbeing and Social Change’ Special interest group (SIG).

At Hallam Barbell our ambition is represented by the following: 

Our vision: Lifting communities to a new level – healthier, happier and stronger

Our mission: We connect people and strengthen communities by developing and delivering innovative weight lifting programmes

Our values: All our staff and members sign up to an our accountable to our core values, which are:

  • Community– we train together, we inspire and support each other.  Everyone is welcome at Hallam Barbell, we appreciate our similarities and respect our differences.
  • Commitment– we take responsibility for our individual and community goals.  We challenge ourselves to progress on a daily basis.
  • Coaching– we inspire, we nurture and empower each other. We lead the way in developing and delivering high quality weight lifting programmes.
  • Impactful– we work together to achieve positive change. We’re enthusiastic and inspirational, celebrating achievements as a team.

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

We focus on positive and meaningful conversations. We seek opportunities to challenge and develop young people and use the Positive Youth Development model within our programmes. We also use the Jon Wooden Pyramid of Success as a reference guide to things that are important.

5) What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

Move fast and break stuff – To me this means that action is important and learning lessons along the way is essential. I would rather try things to have them not work than spend too long planning things for them to take too long or never happen. 

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

Don’t get caught up with your delivery plan and pre conceived ideas of what’s good or what will work. Go off piste, be reactive, let the kids carve the path within the session. So long as they’re enjoying it, working reasonably hard and coming back your doing ok. 

7) Can you recommend any particular resources for youth sport coaches?

Positive Youth Development through Sport edited by Nicholas Holt. 

8) Where can people find out more about you and your work? (Social media links, websites etc.)  Hallam Barbell Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter. @dwhembro on twitter and Dave Hembrough on Instaram. 

Thanks to Dave for his time and expertise in applying Strength & Conditioning for Social Change!