The 2015 National Talent camp that I attended from the 18th of December to the 21st of December was an incredible opportunity for me to develop my confidence and make new friends whilst learning from other sports as well as Aquatics. 350 young coaches, athletes and officials from various parts of the UK and across 10 different sports; including, Aquatics (synchro, water polo and swimming), Boccia, wheelchair basketball, tennis, football and more, met for the first time on a cold wintery Friday morning at Loughborough University. Loughborough University- famous for its great sporting reputation and development of athletes as well as boasting an extensive list of famous Olympians and successful athlete’s part of their extraordinary alumnae, was to be the learning environment for the 4 days.

Day 1 started with an inspiring opening ceremony with speeches by Olympians; Dina Asher-Smith, Max Whitlock (and his coach) and Hannah Cockcroft as well as chair of the Youth Sport Trust, Sue Campbell. After the opening ceremony everyone was sorted into his or her National Governing Body (NGB) and activity groups. The first session was on philosophy and the importance of having your own individual coaching philosophy. I learned that your philosophy can help you to act in certain situations and respond to things in a particular way. For example if an athlete wants to cheat, you hold your own beliefs and respond based on your beliefs and principles. My philosophy is ‘Inclusive. Determination. Fun’. It was important when creating your own brand that the philosophy you create matches your behaviours in coaching.

Day 2 started at 6am for morning circuit training at 7am. I was not originally a fan of early morning starts and morning training, however after exercising in the morning I felt energetic and motivated throughout the whole day. Day 2 looked at Sport behaviors and Moral compass. Looking at different situations my group was able to realise that your moral compass and actions can depend on the situation and your reactions to situations may not always be the same. It was also interesting to look at ethics in sport and how coaches, athletes and officials from other sports were able to have different opinions and judgments on ‘ethics’ in their own sports. Day 2 ended with a nice hot dinner at one of Loughborough’s very nice kitchens.

Day 3 also started with a circuit session at 7am, which focused on speed. After breakfast, we had the opportunity to watch a ‘live lab’ of talented badminton players aged between 12-18. This opportunity enabled the coaches, athletes and officials to understand how coaches communicate with their players and how players can communicate with officials in matches. Wycombe performance Squad trained and competed in two matches throughout the session. It was a good chance to observe, analyse and see how feedback is given to players from coaches in a different sport from swimming. After Lunch, we had a session on emotional intelligence and the group shared experiences where their emotional intelligence was tested in their coaching- a great deal of people said that it was mainly parents of children they coach who test their emotional intelligence!

Team 1 also took part in ‘the cube’ challenge- the deliverers for team 1 said that no other team they have ever had were able to complete it! After dinner all 350 young people gathered in the sports hall for a very interactive talk on controlling your inner chimp, based on ‘the chimp paradox by professor Steve Peters’ which ended in everyone including mentors and deliverers taking part in the “Bring Sally up” squat challenge.

Day 4 started with morning circuits and again this time focused on speed. After breakfast Team 1 met again for a session on how to maximize your team YOU. As well as this we had talks from our NGBs on what happens next and how we can incorporate what we had learned throughout the camp in our coaching throughout the year, as well as setting targets and sharing ideas. After Christmas lunch, everyone once again gathered in the hall for the last time for the closing ceremony, where awards were given out. Overall the weekend was amazing. I learned so much from other sports, as well as making so many new friends and developing my confidence. I hope that I can bring what I have learned back to my teaching and coaching in the New Year!

Here are a selection of some pictures taken throughout the camp, I can be seen somewhere in the crowd in the pictures. The lady in the orange top is the team leader.