With the athletes returning to training in sunny Phoenix this week, we caught up with a new addition to the ALTIS coaching staff, Kevin Tyler, for an insight into his journey.
With a reputation for creating innovative and effective programs for coach education, athlete development and youth development, the former Director of the Canadian Athletics Coaching Center (CACC) – and sprinter who represented Canada in bobsled at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics – is now set to take on the mantle of Education Director & Lead Coach for the 400m and 400m hurdles.
Following his successful spell in at the CACC, Tyler spent 2009-2012 in Europe working at UK Athletics as Strategic Head of Coaching and Development; where he was hailed by UK Athletics’ chief executive Niels de Vos as “without doubt one of the best coach educators in the world … a coach of coaches who makes things happen.”
Most recently, Tyler has been based back on North American soil – coaching Sprints, Hurdles and Relays at the University of Oklahoma.
A 1993 Graduate of Simon Fraser, Tyler holds a Bachelor’s degree with honors in Criminology, as well as the Masters degree in Criminology he earned from the University of Toronto in 1994.
Tyler is an accomplished coach with significant international experience spanning a range of events. Personal coaching successes include guiding Tyler Christopher to World Indoor Championships gold in 2008; coaching nine Olympians from five nations; and amassing a total of 16 Canadian national records from athletes training under his charge.
We sat down with Coach Tyler to find out more.
Kevin – congratulations on your appointment. We are delighted to be welcoming you to the ALTIS. Let’s start by recapping a little further on your background to date. Can you briefly talk about your role at the CACC and the projects you worked on there?
I was the director and first employee at the CACC, responsible for working with the board and setting the program direction. In short we wanted to create quality coach development materials and make them accessible for coaches. We always thought that the best way to improve athlete performance was to do so through coach development. In 2005 we were one of the first organizations to bring coach development content online. In conjunction with this we created an elite athlete training center, sending 4 athletes to the 2008 Olympics, including World Indoor Champion – Tyler Christopher. In addition we created a large scale community participation event: In the second year the ‘Little Big Run’ had 6,000 children and 3,000 adults take part.
In essence we created a holistic program that addressed all areas of the sport: Youth development, high performance and coach development.
Following your work in Canada you moved to UK Athletics (UKA) as Strategic Head of Coaching & Development. One of the success stories coming from your time there was the inception of the National Coach Development Program (NCDP) and UCoach – a cutting edge online coaching resource. Can you tell us more about these projects?
The direction we took in the UK was very similar to the direction we established in Edmonton. A number of people recognized the need to provide greater support to coaches. Two of many programs were the NCDP and UCoach. The NCDP was an England Athletics initiative that paired promising coaches with mentor coaches. The NCDP is different because it is integrated with the larger coach development program – and it is applied – thus providing coaches with hands on coach development opportunities.
We had a lot of success at the CACC with online coach development, so it made sense to replicate this program in the UK. In the UK there was a tremendous economy of scale as well because we were generating enormous amounts of quality content. UCoach is now the best online coach development resource in the world, viewed by thousands of British coaches a month.
Following your move from UKA post 2012 – can you briefly tell us about your most recent role?
I have since been working as a Coach of Sprints, Hurdles and Relays at the University of Oklahoma. It has been fun working in the NCAA, and is something I always wanted to do. I enjoyed working with our student athletes and watching them grow over the last two years. We went from 1 regional qualifier in 2014 to 6 national qualifiers in 2015. Both of the women’s relays teams did really well this year and one of our sophomores, 19 year old DayeShon Roberson ran 51.37s in the 400m and finished 3rd at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Now moving onto Arizona – what will your role be at ALTIS?
I will be working as Education Director, and Lead Coach for the 400m and 400mH. My role will be very similar to the roles I held in Edmonton and the UK; namely helping to organize and deliver coach development activities. ALTIS has done a great job to date delivering numerous education programs – including the Apprentice Coach Program, and various coach education and athlete development clinics. It will be my job to help continue this high standard of delivery, and hopefully expand the scope and reach of our offerings.
What made a move to ALTIS such an attractive proposition for you?
I have admired the work at the Center for sometime now, and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to join the team there. I have really enjoyed working at the college level, but I could not pass on the opportunity to work at ALTIS; because I really believe in what they are doing – and it allows me to utilize and grow the skills I developed at UK Athletics, the CACC and NIKE.
What is it about ALTIS that makes it such an acclaimed training environment?
It is unique in its approach because the vision behind what makes a a truly athlete centered program – which offers a full array of services – is accurately and holistically understood. ALTIS clearly recognizes the need to do things right the first time, and this is combined with a vision for growth over the long term.
“ALTIS clearly recognizes the need to do things right the first time”
How do you hope to develop the programs already in place, and what are your plans for the future in your role?
I look forward to working with John, Stu, Dan, Andreas, and the other coaches to help build a mid to long term strategy for ALTIS in general; and the coach development program specifically. From a coaching perspective I think it is important to maintain the quality of our current programs, and then slowly expand them – allowing greater access for coaches. It is also important to have a full offering, so coaches at all levels can benefit from the work that is occurring at ALTIS. Lastly, it would be nice to archive all of our programs electronically and make them available online. In the end however, quality is crucial, so we can only grow as fast as quality assurance allows us.
What do you think about the professional Track & Field world right now, and how can ALTIS help move the sport forward?
I have always enjoyed working with Olympic Level athletes, and I am excited to be getting back in the fold of coaching at this level. There is a tremendous amount of talent coming out of the college and junior systems, and until recently there really hasn’t been a full service option for these athletes. ALTIS is therefore in a unique position to fill a void in the professional ranks; namely a high performance training environment that places the athlete first and meets all of their performance needs. ALTIS provides this; and is politically neutral – so it has the potential to really change the face of professional athletics with a true athlete centered approach. By integrating this with high quality coach development activity, we are in a position to help develop and improve our sport all around.
Coach Tyler – thanks once again for your time – and a big welcome to the ALTIS Family!
Kevin Tyler is on Twitter – you can follow him here.