The Open Academy gives aspiring athletes between the age of 14 & 21, and their coach, a chance to experience the core concepts behind the Youth Academy Programme. Open Academy sessions run approximately every eight weeks and give coach-athlete pairs exposure to movement screening, physical preparation sessions and athlete education seminars. The Open Academy paves the way to Event Group Squads held later in the year.
In the past three years Athletics NI’s weekly Youth Academy, led by Coach Development Lead Laura Kerr and Athlete Development Lead Tom Reynolds has supported around 55 athletes through physical competency screening, strength and conditioning, coach/athlete education seminars and movement training sessions with a focus on acceleration and upright running mechanics.
In 2015, 95% of Youth Academy athletes achieved a personal best performance. In 2017 Youth Academy Athletes won Gold Medals at Commonwealth Youth Games and World Junior Para Championships as well as achieving top 8 positions in the World Paralympic Championships and European Junior Championships.
Open Academy days will give developing athletes and their coaches exposure to movement screening, physical preparation sessions and athlete education seminars. Youth Academy coaches will introduce content similar to that delivered at the weekly Youth Academy and Ulster Endurance Camp and athlete –coach pairs can apply to attend Open Academy without the need to have met a selection standard. Open Academy days will run early in the winter each year with a focus on general physical preparation. These will be followed by a event group days for event specific technical preparation. Athlete –coach pairs can register to attend Open Academy without the need to have met a selection standard.
Talent identification research in athletics and other late specialisation sports suggests that it is very difficult to predict which young athletes will go on to achieve senior success. Indeed, at 14, 15 and 16 years of age, many future champions are often not the best in their clubs let alone their country or the world. Many multi-medal winning Olympic/Paralympic and World Championship medallists often continue to play other sports into their late teens and early twenties. Since excellent youth performances do not seem to differentiate future champions from their peers, the research agenda is now shifting towards the psychological factors that determine long term success. In line with this thinking Athletics NI wish to provide ambitious young athletes and personal coaches focused on long term athletic development with early exposure to the physical preparation and lifestyle planning that facilitates high performance training. Open Academy provides this opportunity.