Minichiello - Coaching must be tailored to suit individual

Sunday 15 Dec 2013
Toni Minichiello (left) and Louise Bloor at St. George's Park
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Empowering an athlete to develop in their own unique way should be at the heart of all good sports coaching.

That is the opinion of Toni Minichiello, the world-renowned athletics coach who helped Jessica Ennis-Hill to Olympic glory at London 2012.

Minichiello was one of a number of guest speakers at this weekend’s FA Licensed Coaches’ Club Conference at St. George’s Park which was themed around developing creativity.


“There’s a lot we can learn from other sports.”

Toni Minichiello 



And he believes all sports people should be allowed to grow in whatever way they believe is best for them.

He said: "It’s trying to take away the barriers from youngsters so they’ve got the opportunity to express themselves.

"Once they can do things then you [have taken] away those barriers to creativity.

"They’ll take risks, they’ll try things, they’ll do things a bit different and that’s what you’ve got to try and encourage.

"[Freedom to develop] is important because everybody’s different. You have got to tailor the session for each individual so they get the best out of it.

"That’s a difficult thing to organise sometimes but the rewards are huge."

Minichiello was joined at the national football centre by 100m and 200m runner Louise Bloor and players from Sheffield United’s Girls’ Centre of Excellence, who participated in his practical session.

It focused on the co-ordination skills and balance work used by his pupils to develop the ‘movement vocabulary’ needed in a multi-event athlete.

He added: "If [the Licensed Coaches in attendance] got some new ideas that they can incorporate into what they’re doing with youngsters and developing co-ordination then it’s been a success.

"I think there’s a lot of things we can learn from other sports."

Minichiello was named UK Coach of the Year in 2012 and he rejoined the British Athletics fold earlier this month, so he is better placed than most to discuss exactly what it is that makes a good coach.

He said: "I think what you’ve got to understand is that kids have put their trust in you and you’ve got to help them as best you can.

"A coach who understands that it’s not about them; it’s about the youngsters that you’re helping. That’s critically important."


By Glenn Lavery