Strength and conditioning is an important part of an athlete’s total development and strengthening exercises should be introduced early as part of the overall plan.
Athletes can perform body-weight training exercises up to the age of 12-13, at which time they can be introduced to light weight training and simple jumping activities.
Heavy loads on growing joints can create permanent damage and sometimes disfigurement of the bones. It is recommended that athletes do not start maximal weight training or advanced jumping activities until after puberty. These programs when commenced must be carefully monitored to avoid injury to the athlete.
These are guidelines and recommendations. The actual workload an athlete can cope with will depend on their physical maturity and their training age. All commitments of the young athlete must be taken into consideration when planning for athlete development.
The coach’s primary role is to facilitate the process of individual development through achievement of Athletic potential. This role accepts the athletes’ long term interests as of greater importance than short term athletic considerations. To fulfil this role the coach must behave in an ethical manner, respecting the following points:
Coaches must respect the basic human rights, that is, the equal rights, of each athlete with no discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, birth or other status.
Coaches must respect the dignity and recognise the contribution of each individual. This includes respecting the right for freedom from physical or sexual harassment and advances.
Coaches must ensure that practical environments are safe and appropriate. This appropriateness must take into consideration the age, maturity and skill level of the athlete. This is particularly important in the case of younger or less developed athletes.
Coaches must acknowledge and respect the Rules of Competition. This respect should extend to the spirit as well as to the letter of the rules, in both training and competition, to ensure fairness of competitive opportunity between all athletes.
Coaches must exhibit an active respect for officials, by accepting the role of the officials in providing judgement to ensure that competitions are conducted fairly and according to the established rules.
Coaches must accept final responsibility for the performance and conduct of the athletes they coach, while at the same time encouraging the independence and self determination of each athlete by their acceptance of responsibility for their own decisions, conduct and performance.
Coaches must assert a positive and active leadership role to prevent any use of prohibited drugs or other disallowed performance enhancing substances or practices. This leadership by coaches includes education of the athletes of the harmful effects of prohibited substances and practices.
The coach must acknowledge that all coaches have an equal right to desire the success of the athletes they coach – competing within the rules. Observations, recommendations and criticism should be directed to the appropriate person outside the view or hearing of the public domain.
Coaches must never solicit, either overtly or covertly, athletes who are receiving coaching to join their squad or change their coaching situation without first involving the current personal coach or coaches.
The coach must acknowledge and recognise that all athletes have a right to pursue their athletic potential, including when an athlete’s development would benefit from a change of coaching situation. The coach should ensure that, in these cases, any formation of a coaching partnership or transfer to another coach is actively explored with the athlete, whose decision is supported.
Coaches should hold recognised coaching qualifications. Coaches should respect that the gaining of coaching qualifications is an ongoing commitment, achieved through the upgrading of their knowledge by attendance of accredited courses and through practical coaching experience. Coaches also have a responsibility to share the knowledge and practical experience they gain.
Coaches must respect the image of the coach and the reputation of the Association and continuously maintain the highest standards of personal conduct, reflected in both the manner of appearance and behaviour, so that they do not bring Coaching or the Association into disrepute.
Coaches must never smoke while coaching or in the presence of athletes, nor consume alcoholic beverages so soon before coaching that it affects their competence or that the smell of alcohol is on their breath.
Coaches must enter into full cooperation with all individuals and agencies that could play a role in the development of the athletes they coach. This includes working openly with other coaches, using the expertise of sports scientists and sports physicians and displaying an active support of their National Federation and the IAAF.
It is important that a good rapport is built between athletes, coaches and parents for the process of developing the athletes to their highest potential.
All Coaches should abide by the current ATFCA Code of Ethics for Coaches.
The relationship between athlete and coach must be valued as one of honesty and mutual respect. If this relationship breaks down and the athlete wishes to change coach there must be a clear line of communication to end the relationship.
The coach is responsible for the health and well-being of an athlete in their care. The coach is responsible for the athlete’s program and liaising/coordination with other coaches and support staff involved in the program.
The coach should always bear in mind the current ATFCA Code of Ethics when dealing with other coaches. The needs of any athlete must always come before personal pride or prejudice. Any professional problems with another coach should always be dealt with through the proper authorities.
The relationship between the coach and athlete should always be two-way. Decisions regarding goal setting and program direction should be made co-operatively between the coach and the athlete. Any major changes to the coach-athlete relationship, ie, introducing a specialist coach into the program, or the athlete changing coaches should be communicated clearly. In the majority of cases athletes change coaches at some point in their career. It is useful if this transition is as agreeable as possible.
The athlete must develop trust and respect for their coach as they are the professional who can help them achieve their short and long term goals. They must maintain an open and honest relationship with their coach, keeping them informed of any changes in their lives which may affect their training program or their relationship with the coach.
If the athlete has any questions relating to their training program or preparation it is imperative that they speak to the coach. It is not acceptable to speak to other coaches before speaking to their own coach first. If the relationship becomes questionable, it is only respectful that the athlete speaks to the coach first before making any decisions about their coaching situation.
When dealing with the young athlete it is imperative that parents are kept informed of the direction of the program and are given regular feedback on their child’s progress and needs. Coaches need to help parents understand that each child develops at a different rate, and that actual training ages of children in the squad will differ. Preparation is a long term process of physical and technical development to ensure the athletes longevity in sport.
Parents need to develop a relationship with the coach based on the fact that parents and coaches are both in a care-giving role with the athlete. The parents must therefore keep the coach informed of any matters which may affect the coaches ability to provide proper care of the athlete within the program, ie, illnesses, allergies, study, other sporting commitments (especially school). Parents need to ensure that their child’s coach has professional/public liability insurance.
It is important to understand that children do not tolerate exercise as well as adults. Children need to be provided with a well rounded development plan which will provide a sustained physical and technical development base for their future athletic endeavours. Overtraining will simply result in athletic burnout and overuse or repetitive strain injuries. It is important that parents and coaches co-operate in ensuring the athlete’s long term future in sport.