Blog: Supporting Champions conference 2017 review


Loughborough University Strength and Conditioning Coach and TASS practitioner, Chris Baird, reports from the inaugural Supporting Champions conference.

Brain child of Performance Consultant Steve Ingham, the  event promised to offer invaluable insight from some of the best practitioners and coaches, in order to help professionals perform at their best.

Chris Baird went along last week on behalf of TASS to develop his personal knowledge and hear from some of the leading experts in sport including the likes of Jessica Ennis-Hill’s coach Toni Minichello.

Following the conference, Chris is now sharing his thoughts with the TASS network: 

Key learnings

  • Learning to FLEX & COPE in the spotlight. By Dr Mark Bawden, Pete Lindsay: When looking to resolve a long-term performance issue don’t ‘wrestle a pig’. Often when we’re trying to solve an issue the attention is focused on the incorrect component of the problem. Instead you should identify what the true problem is and provide a solution to that.
  • Insights from coaching Jessica Ennis Hill. By Toni Minichello: An excellent presentation from a very well experienced coach. One of the key learnings for myself revolved around the concept of understanding where you fall in the timeline of the athlete’s journey, and what the specific objectives are for that stage of the journey. It can be easy to be caught up in performance but it’s not necessarily the most important factor at that particular moment.
  • Life lessons and interventions working in elite team sports. By Emma Gardner: Simplicity, communication, and specific application are essential for adherence. Emma was kind enough to share several of the strategies she employed at Northampton Saints, over a number of months, reflecting on how the adherence she received was not amazing to some of her interventions. Through communication, and understating the athletes under her charge she was able to provide relevant information, that had deeper impact on the team. One excellent example she provided was producing an infographic that was strategically placed at the facility regarding a food substance that was been consumed far too much.

Influence on my practice

There were some key learnings from the conference that I intend to carry over into my practice immediately. Initially I think spending more time with the other support and lead staff is critical in developing alignment and collectively working through performance problems, so we don’t end up ‘wrestling pigs’.

While this is difficult with TASS athletes in particular as their lead technical coach is often off-site, I do believe there is value in seeking to spend as much time with them as possible. With this improved communication, I believe the understanding and clarity regarding the athlete’s position on their timeline and career objectives become more apparent, thus allowing myself to provide more personalised, applicable training.

Whilst we always make an effort to communicate and get to know the athletes under our charge, the importance of understanding strategies about how best they learn and how they process information is key to myself providing the student-athletes with the best information in the correct format.

For more information, please contact TASS Network Manager, Craig Williams.