Coaching Chat #1: Coaching Developing Athletes – Lessons from the Classroom, Field, & Track

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Ellie Kormis

Ellie Kormis

ALTIS Director of Education

Welcome to Coaching Chat, a new vodcast series where Education Director – Ellie Kormis – chats with coaches, coach educators, and teachers who coach – from High School coaches, to Pro coaches, to new coaches, to the seasoned warhorses of our profession.

With a reach encompassing all sports, the aim of this vodcast series is to promote cross pollination across coaching domains, and allow all coaches, but particularly early career coaches, to garner insights into how others tackle their coaching and teaching challenges.

This ‘learning out loud’ approach is hoped to prompt networking and chat, so please do reach out to us on the comments page for the video on YouTube if you have questions, comments, or suggestions.

Oh, and we are all pushed for time, so we promise these chats will remain short – no longer than 20 minutes – with the key takeaways neatly summarized for you in accompanying articles on our website! That way you can choose to scan the article, or dive deeper into the chat itself…

First up is JP Laurent – a South African, based in England – JP is the Head Coach of West London Track and Field Juniors (WLTF), coaching 160 athletes, aged 7 -15, every week. He is an experienced PE teacher with decades of experience, and has coached Cricket and Rugby for over 20 years. Three years ago, he began coaching Track & Field Athletics.

In this 20-minute chat with Ellie Kormis, the father of 3 discusses how his multi-sports approach and teaching background now informs his practice as a relatively new coach in the Track & Field domain. He also shares insights to managing the coaching of 160 plus young athletes and a range of multi-sports athletes on a weekly basis. 

Specific discussion points: 

  1. What he learnt about teaching and coaching from being a classroom teacher 
  2. How teaching / coaching multiple sports informs his approach 
  3. His mentors and influencers, and top 3 learnings so far
  4. Coaching large groups – how, why, pros/cons, what he has learned doing this 
  5. Biggest challenges he’s faced and how he’s overcome and learned in the process
  6. Why he recommends people coach children at some point in their coaching career
  7. Advice to an early career coach, or coaches moving into areas they are not used to coaching 

Key Takeaways:

  • Learning is individual, learning timeframes are not linear
  • Individual engagement and attention ignites learning and builds athlete-coach relationships – treat athletes as the individuals they are
  • Avoid having kids stand in lines for long periods, keep the session pace moving to maximize their learning 
  • Kids get bored quickly, so teach us a lot about our coaching approach. If you’ve never coached a group of children, you should do as part of your development, wherever your expertise currently sits
  • You can be an experienced coach and teacher in a certain context and a relative novice in another: stay humble and understand your contextual expertise (for example JP is an experienced rugby coach, but an early career athletics coach)
  • Track & Field’s ‘run, throw, jump’ foundations link to, and positively impact, every other sport
  • Don’t start giving instructions until everyone is quiet and listening to you. Be patient 
  • Positioning yourself during sessions is key when coaching groups, where do you stand when you coach and give instructions? 
  • As you develop, your perception of what ‘good’ looks like in a session will change. Great teaching doesn’t need to involve non-stop instruction and speaking to be effective 
  • Provide appropriate challenges and opportunity – zero failures in a session doesn’t equate to successful teaching
  • You can’t have an ‘elite 9 year old’ – avoid clubs and coaches who promote ‘elite’ in children. It’s nonsense
  • If you coach children, do you know what other sports they do in a week outside your sessions? If not, make sure you get an understanding of what else they do – they could be doing sports training 7 days a week! 


If you want to connect with JP and chat further, check out his social media accounts:



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