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Coaching for the body – and brain!

Coaching for the body – and brain!

All bases covered with new program for SA’s emerging track & field stars

Ten of South Australia’s best and brightest up-and-coming athletes have won places in a new program offering accelerated development – on and off the track.

The Emerging Athlete Program addresses four key areas high-performing athletes must master to reach their peak: physical skills, technical and tactical know-how, and mental strength.

It focuses on rising stars between the ages of 17 and 23 who aren’t covered by Athletics Australia’s junior high-performance programs or current state and national scholarships.

The 10 participants in the first intake include two who’ve just competed at the World Junior Championships in Finland: 1500m runner Sarah Eckel and 100m relay runner Harrison Hunt.

The program begins with a thorough assessment of participants’ skills and capabilities. Physios, doctors, nutritionists: a raft of professionals is involved – and the benefits can be tremendous:

  • Early screening might identify small changes in technique that can help a javelin-thrower throw further and stay injury-free.
  • Or it might identify how an athlete is stronger in one leg than the other; their work program can then be adapted to strengthen the ‘weaker’ leg.
  • Load-bearing is another focus; in other words, ensuring athletes don’t overdo it. Because – the program is about helping them long-term. So, for example, if a cross-country athlete normally runs about 100km week, they might need to reduce that load in weeks they’re training harder in the gym.

The athletes’ coaches are part of the program too: the idea is that the know-how they pick up (e.g. through coaching master classes) can be passed on not only to the first 10 athletes in the EAP, but on and on down the line to the next raft of emerging stars!

The EAP was developed by Athletics SA, with assistance ($35,000 worth) from the Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing.