Coach apprenticeship review

Ellie Spain

Ellie Spain

ALTIS Director of Education

Ryan Jensen attended the 2013 inaugural Altis apprentice coach program. Ryan is coaching Athletics in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. He joined coaches from around the world for this one-­week program.

A day in the life of an Apprentice Coach at Altis by Ryan Jensen.

The day of an apprentice coach begins like most days for an Athletics coach… at the track. If you’re “in the know” you probably arrive with a coffee from the nearby Matador Coffee shop; if you’re not, just ask any of the coaches or athletes and they will gladly point you in the right direction.

As the athletes and coaches trickle in you can immediately sense an air of professionalism. This stems from both the coaches and athletes. Everyone at the track is there for a reason -­‐ a shared common goal of excellence in athletics – and you can really sense this. As the athletes warm-­up and begin their workout, you can observe and interact with both coaches and athletes. Everyone at the track is open and willing to discourse. When you ask questions you get honest answers. As you observe the workout, you’ll find a multitude of opportunities to learn and digest high performance athletics. You will witness trackside therapy, speed workouts, technical workouts and more.

After the athletes are done at the track, everyone heads over to the Altis partner facility, Athlete Performance, or “AP” for short. The facilities at AP are world class, showcasing a massive weight room that overlooks 40m of artificial turf. There, the athletes begin their workouts in the weight room, under the watchful eye of their coaches. This provides a great opportunity to observe and learn strength and power development.  Apprentices can take this chance to see what exercises work best for different events, why they work, and when to use them. You can ask about proper weight room techniques. And if you are the kinesthetic learner, you can even try one or two of the exercises.

The heart of the Apprentice Coach Program is Education Director, Dan Pfaff. Dan is like a bottomless well; you can drink and drink and it never runs dry. He has a deep and thorough knowledge of athletics and the human body. No matter the question, and no matter your current level of understanding, you always walk away with a deeper understanding of the subject.

However, the best is saved for last when the apprentices and coaches gather for a Pool-­side Chat -­‐ for lunch and debrief at the end of practice. This informal question and answer time is the best opportunity to ask in-­‐depth questions covering a wide array of subjects. Discussions can include everything from high-­‐end training theory to sharing stories about how coaches Nind balance between professional and personal life. This debriefing time will become what you make it. The Altis coaching staff rises to the occasion to provide thought-­‐provoking and meaningful answers to every topic brought to the table. These supposed 45 minute chats actually turned into 2 hours very quickly; Make sure you bring your notepad!

The simple truth is that all coaches need mentors; someone to bounce ideas off of, and help troubleshoot problems. While this mentorship may formally only last a week, it will change you as a coach. Standing side by side with world-­‐class coaches as they coach world-­‐class athletes provides an educational experience that every coach, no matter their current level of expertise, will Nind instrumental to their growth and development. You’ve likely heard the theory in clinics and presentations, but this provides an opportunity to see how to practically apply that knowledge.  So, take a week to invest in yourself and invest in your athletes. You wont regret it!

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