Cherry Alexander, UK Athletics and Andy Young, photo by Bobby Gavin www.thatonemoment.co.uk.
This is part 1/ part 4 on Andy Young, who coaches Laura Muir, Jemme Reekie and Gabriele Debues Stafford.
Andy Young Part 1 Approach to coaching
Andy Young, photo by Bobby Gavin www.thatonemoment.co.uk
Do you have a coaching philosophy?
Yes, but not a one liner. Attention to detail and getting things right. Getting the most out of your workouts. Knowing what you’re trying to achieve. Everything we do should have a purpose with no wasted energy. It’s intense and hard work but hopefully always with a purpose. Always focusing on the next thing to be achieved and keeping an eye on the prize. Middle-distance running is a tough sport with a lot of training so it’s easier if you can enjoy it. It’s not all fun and games but you’ve got to try and find some enjoyment in there. Try to get the most out of every session. Reduce the wastage so that everything is done with a purpose.
Laura Muir and Andy Young, 2019 Glasgow, photo by Sue Gyford/ scottishathletics
How do you see a coach/athlete relationship?
They are all different and, of course, they change over time. Each athlete is an individual. Some are alike but then you get one who’s totally different in terms of personality and how they approach things. There are really no two identical situations. Speaking personally, I like the group to have fun. I get the whole group together to do warm-up but trying to have fun while doing it, cracking a few jokes. I’d make fun of them; they’d make fun of me. But it’s important that they all enjoy it. Of course, they’re concentrating on the drills but perhaps having fun along the way. At the same time, they know when it comes to the core of the session, I’m looking for them to take it seriously and put in a really good effort. But afterwards we can return to a bit of joviality. But if you don’t enjoy it, there is no real point in doing it. Hopefully most of them are enjoying coming down and training. The bit in the middle when they are working really hard is probably not the most fun bit but we try to find some fun around it.
SALA Awards, 2018, Bobby Gavin www.thatonemoment.co.uk
You go to events with your athletes. What do you do at events?
First of all, to enjoy I t- because I have put in a lot of work as well. I know some coaches get a bit sick of it but I enjoy being at the meets. Having put in all the hard work, I enjoy being there for the outcome and the excitement of it. I imagine, like me, if somebody said you could go to these meets without working, you’d leap at it – even pay to go. So, in no sense do I feel forced to be there. I enjoy it.
The role on the day changes a bit. Different athletes want different things. You provide familiarity. If you’re in charge, it allows them to focus on what they have to do – perform. If you are sorting everything out, all they have to worry about the warm-up, whatever you discussed in terms of instructions and then delivering the performance. There is always stuff going on at events and if you try to be the buffer who eradicates everything else so the athletes can focus on their performance. Everybody’s different. Some like familiarity. Some need calming down. Some like encouragement.
Some athletes will have their agent at events – but you seem to play both roles.
Yes, but don’t get me wrong. Laura and Jemma have got a good agent, a fellow from Germany. We work closely together but, yes, I can cover the role that the agent might play. If the agent is there, they might be doing some of the things I described. In the early days I was playing both roles. And I’ve been on the circuit long enough that I know enough of the people. We’re very happy with the agent we have got but we don’t need him to be there every time.
SALA Awards 2018, photo by Bobby Gavin www.thatonemoment.co.uk
Why do some athletes get injured a lot – bad luck/over-training?
You don’t want to generalize or make people think you’re talking about them. But some people are just prone to injury. To be sure, there are some cases out there where it could have been avoided. If you talking international athletes, who are trying to be the very best in the world, it can be a thin line between injury and success. You will be pushing our body to be the very best because if you don’t someone else will. But if you go a little bit too far, then you can get yourself injured. There are things you can do to mitigate and try to prevent injury and we work hard to try to reduce the risk of injury. The way I have developed my program with less spikes and troughs and the weekly rest day, if you’ve got any little micro tears in the muscles, it gives the body 36 hours to repair. But there is only so much you can do and even with the best preventative measures, if you’re trying to be the best in the world, there still going to be some injuries. There is no golden answer
I recently read an interview with Coe story where he talked about training twice on Christmas Day because he thought Steve Ovett would run twice! Do you understand that mentality?
I do understand that mentality but again athletes have different mentalities themselves about how they approach things. If you are a real raw competitor, desperate to win, you have that trait. And I’m a bit like that. As soon as anything is achieved anything, it’s “what’s the next target? What are we going to achieve next?” I have always said it’s important to pause and enjoy success when you have it. Not pause training – but take the time to say “that was really great”. It’s something I didn’t really do as an athlete because I was always, “box ticked, next?” I never really paused and said “that’s great”; it was always straight on to the next target.
Andy Young and Laura Muir, Bobby Gavin www.thatonemoment.co.uk
I do understand that mentality but all athletes aren’t like that. Some need to be pushed. Others might need to be reined in and told to take a day off. Sometimes an athlete needs to be told to take a rest and recognize that we would get more out of a “healthy you” than if you push yourself to the limit. An easy week might do you more good. So, you get that mix. I’m always looking at what other athletes do, looking at the competition. It does cross my mind that if you are not giving the optimal in your work-outs, then so and so down the road probably is. They might be a more fierce competitor and, as good as you are, they might beat you. All you can do, is give 100%. So, it certainly crosses my mind that if you don’t give your all, somebody else may be doing it, which increases their chance of beating you. Some may need to be reined in while others rely on you to push them.
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