My internship at West London Track & Field

By Kathi Lohr - Germany (Intern 2017-2018 Season)

This summer season I was given the amazing opportunity to complete my coaching internship which is part of my undergraduate sport sciences studies at West London Track and Field in order to get an insight into the world of professional coaching. For five months starting March 2018 I worked as a coaching intern with the full time and the part time sprints & hurdles squad and the pole vault squad.

My tasks included

•       Observation of all track and conditioning sessions

•       Set-up of training sessions (equipment, stride length markers)

•       Leading small groups for conditioning work

•       Recording jump data for monitoring purposes

•       Assisting with the set up and running of various opening meetings

•       Technique analysis (using the ALTIS Kinogram method and various other parameters, such as stride length)

I spent most of my mornings with the Sprints and Hurdles group. At first, I always met up with Laura and we talked through today’s session which was very helpful because it made me understand the aims and reasons behind the exercises.

One of the most important things I’ve learned is that before you can even start the actual training part of the session you have to check in with your athletes to see how they’re feeling both mentally and physically and then possibly make alterations to the session. Watching their warm up is also really helpful (but often overlooked). By looking at someone doing their skips or mobilization work you can tell if there are any asymmetries, deficiencies in their mobility or how concentrated they are.

I was able to attain a lot of knowledge about sprinting mechanics and what technical event sprinting really is.

Three times a week I also had the opportunity to work with Ellie and the pole vault squad. As I had never even touched a pole in my life it was very interesting to see how versatile you have to train to be able to successfully clear the crossbar.

In order to jump high, you have to work your speed, rhythm, jumping power, general strength, gymnastics and (maybe most importantly) your mental strength.

Key elements I am taking home

Through my internship I learned that in order to “create” a future Olympic medalist both the coach and the athlete need to bring their a-game at all times. Important trades are:

·       Good group dynamics: Athletes have to push each other while being supportive of another.

·       Innovation: Coaches are confronted with new situations every day. This could be injuries, weather or lack of equipment. They therefore need to be creative to solve these problems as there is never a standardized answer.

·       Creating Buy-in: Coaches have to educate their athletes so that they understand what they’re doing and why. Positive effects of the training depend on the athletes believing in them.

·       Coach-athlete relationship: Coaches have to be firm with their athletes, and set boundaries and expectations clearly, but it’s most important that they genuinely care for the person beyond the athlete.

·       Mind-set: We can’t control how we initially feel about a situation, but we are responsible for how it affects our mentality and our actions.

I want to say a big thank you to everyone at West London Track and Field for making me feel so welcome right from the beginning. I have learned a lot from both the coaches and the athletes and I am looking forward to continuing coaching back home in Germany.

Athletics Internship