NewsletterWhat Makes a Great Coach?

“I’ve been coaching and teaching for well over 40 years. I think that along the way I’ve gathered enough knowledge and experience to  be able to coach effectively – or have I?”……

I read a very interesting and thought provoking article recently that outlined 35 secrets that make an average coach become a great coach….

While superior knowledge of the sport is a cornerstone of a great coach, it takes so much more than content and procedural knowledge to be a great coach or teacher. Simply because a person has great knowledge of the sport  does not mean they are a great coach…

Great coaches…[click to read 35 secrets!!]

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Teaching + Coaching + Repetition = Learning

Nigel Lewis Dec 2014I saw this quote recently…it really resonated with me.

The importance of repetition until automaticity cannot be overstated. Repetition is the key to learning. – John Wooden

But first – who was John Wooden?:

John Robert Wooden (October 14, 1910 – June 4, 2010) was a very famous American Basketball  coach. Wooden was renowned for his short, simple inspirational messages to his players, including his “Pyramid of Success”. These often were directed at how to be a success in life as well as in basketball.

Training can be repetitive which could lead to boredom. Young athletes need repetitive practice especially in those all-important early stages of learning….

Your training group should be made to understand that the learning of essential body movement patterns takes a lot of time and a lot of patience and perserverance from both athlete and coach.

This teaching/coaching process could last for several years, so both athlete and coach need to establish an understanding and rationale about the importance of the early stages in the training process.

I’m sure that many of you know and understand the 3 stages of learning..

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“When should a young athlete be given a prescriptive training programme?”

Newsletter“When should a young athlete be given a prescriptive training programme?”



In the UK we have 4 definitive junior athletic age groupings. They are [11-13; 13-15; 15-17 and 17-20]…

These correspond to the year groups in high school: 11-13 would normally be years 6 and 7, 13-15 would be years 8 and 9, 15-17 would be years 10 and 11 with 17 to 20 being years 11 and 12 and 1st year college.

Having coached athletics for over 40 years I wouldn’t recommend a rigid prescribed training programme until the 17-20 age grouping. If young athletes can survive past the 15-17 age group and are still motivated to train hard and compete, only then can you really begin to plan for the future.

These ‘survivors’ have decided that athletics is going to be their chosen sport….

  • I see the 3 earlier age groups as the teaching and learning periods and they should be treated as such. Too often, I observe many younger athletic training groups being coached intensely at too young an age.

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Landing Drills

J7I’ve been looking around the countless YOU TUBE clips for ideas. Many of the drills I find wouldn’t fit into my ‘coaching box. But with a few tweaks here and there would be suitable somewhere along the teaching/coaching learning curve – just to emphasise a coaching point.

Here’s two landing drills I found yesterday. Make up your own mind….

I have used, and still use these two drills with my own subtle modifications..

All the best,


Last Training Session Before Christmas..

Nigel Lewis Dec 2014Last evening we had the last coach-led training session before the Christmas break. It is a difficult time of the year for coaching especially if your main coaching venue is run by the local authority..!!

Some venues close down for over a week which does make training difficult. But if you’ve done your job right then this ‘enforced’ break will not upset the training programme.

Anyway, there are plenty of hills and parkland around so there is NO excuse for not training….

I shall be back training next Monday – the 29th December.

What did we do last night?

Worked on hurdles – starts to touchdown over hurdle 1 – the crucial part of the race. It got quite competitive and their times improved as the session went on. The sprinters in the group worked on their starts and ran alongside the hurdles..

Long Jump next: Worked from 6 strides establishing a 123 – 123 rhythm with emphasis placed on tochdown and free thigh drive…

Not a landing drill, so asked them to land in a low squating position in the sand. We used a low platform for a while to prolong their time in the air. Worked on mantaining that upright upper body in the flight phase. Concentrated on maintaining tension at the moment of take-off. Younger jumpers lose that tension and ‘wobble’ in the air and fight for balance and stability which ultimately affects their preparation for landing….

Next time we’ll move back to 8 strides.

Finished with 4 x 80mts [very fast] with 3-4 minutes recovery..

So – a short break then back to it. The Indoor Season is upon us…

Happy Christmas,



Christmas Long Jump Competition

NewsletterThis is a photograph of the long jumpers who took part in the Christmas Long Jump Competition at NIAC, Cardiff on Sunday December 21st 2014…

Xmas Jumps Comp 2

Back Row: R to L..Osaze Aghedo, Rhys Harris, Thomas Walley, Jordon Fender, Gage Francis, Sam Hughes, Tony Mills, Curtis Mathews, Aled Price, Ryan Grimwade, and Joseff Williams…

Front Row: R to L..Kellen Jones, Lauryn Davey, Macey Jones, Jodie Beynon, Catrin Lord, Lauren Evans, Shaun Zygadlo and Tybie Newby-Chugg

Can I wish all of you who regularly visit my jumps website a very Happy Christmas. I can’t thank you enough for showing such an interest in my passion…..

The Indoor Season is now with us especially in Wales, where a host of Indoor Competitions and Championships wll be held over the next two months..

Last training session this evening…A BIG ONE!!

CHRISTMASA Very Happy Christmas,

All the best,


Christmas Long Jump Competition 2014

NewsletterThe 2nd Annual Invitational Long Jump Competition is TODAY at the National Indoor Athletics Centre on the Cardiff Met Campus.

The competition starts at 11.00am. Would all jumpers please be at the centre at 10.00am to register and warm up….

Remember that you have to pay normal stadium entry plus a £5 competition entry fee.

The registration desk will be at the side of the sandpit…..

For more detail please click on this link…


See you all at 10.00am,

All the best,


PS: Spectators are very welcome


The Warm Up

Warming Up 2The warm up..


What do you include? Are you a warm up fanatic? Does your training group spend an inordinate amount of time warming up before you begin to train? Do you watch your group warming up? Do you insist that all your group do the same warm up? Do you go from general to specific? Do you tailor the warm up to the event? How long should a warm up be?……….

When a new group member joins our training group I’m often amazed at how poor they are in structuring a suitable warm up. I often have to resort initially to devising a warm up for them. Because we are essentially a speed and power based group we have to warm up well because of this. I need them ready to practice at high intensities which does involve explosive and reactive activities.

As coaches we all understand the physiological and mental implications why a warm up is necessary before any training session…

At my coaching base I constantly observe coaches and their groups warming up and see a wide range of warm up activities…[both general to specific]..

  • But am I the only coach who thinks that warm-ups are now becoming more important than the event specific training? I say this ‘tongue in cheek’ but the emphasis on a warm up now is becoming like ‘show time’…

We have one athlete in our training group whose warm up appears endless and we are always waiting for this athlete to finish so we can start…

I might have to ask this athlete to turn up 30 minutes before the rest of us!!

My combined events group are young but extremely talented so teaching goes cap in hand with coaching. To this end, I have produced 4 warm up task cards and these are given out prior to beginning training. They work in pairs and work through the exercises and drills on their card. Each session they are given a different card so that within two to three weeks they have a ‘bank’ of 40+ general to specific warm up activities to include before they train. They like this approach…

In time they are able to select exercises and drills from all of the cards and structure a warm up that they are really comfortable with and actually enjoy…

We constantly refresh the warm up activities periodically, take some out and so on…

Below is just one of the cards….

  1. 2 laps of track -2nd lap is a combination of running sideways, bounces, skips etc]…
  2. Forward lunges over 20mts x 3…
  3. Reverse lunges over 20mts x 3…
  4. 10 x lateral lunges PLUS 10 x angled lunges…
  5. 3 x running backwards over 30mts…
  6. 3 x low impact skips over 40mts…
  7. 3 x high impact skips over 30mts…
  8. 4 x straight leg bounding to high knees ro run out over 40mts…
  9. 6 x SAQ hurdles – dynamic vertical jumps x 2…
  10. 4 x acceleration runs to 50mts…

Speak with you soon

All the best,


PS: If you have a comment please email me at…



What a Facility…

What does the coach see?Take a look at this training facility in Amsterdam. This forms part of the Ajax Football Club’s training facilities. Not even at an athletics club….

A speed and jumps coach would love to have this at the bottom of the garden!!

Ajax 2

Ajax 1Speak with you soon to discuss the warm up..