Rising Stars

Rising Stars

‘Rising Stars’ is Athletics NI’s development initiative for emerging athletes. It is underpinned by a structured training syllabus devised specifically to help young athletes develop a broad base of training skills. The development of these skills are the foundation of advanced training in Athletics and are important regardless of the Event Group (Speed, Endurance, Jumps or Throws) that an athlete eventually decides to specialise in.

Why was the curriculum developed?

A key concern among Athletics Coaches, Strength and Conditioning Specialists and Physios working with elite performance athletes is the general lack of skill, strength, speed, mobility, balance and co-ordination exhibited by teenage athletes who potentially could become major championship medal winners. A lack of these qualities increases the risk of injury and limits an athlete’s senior potential. While deficiencies in these areas are common in athletes from all events groups endurance athletes often face the biggest challenges due to sustained repetitive nature of training for these events. To address these concerns Athletics NI created 'Rising Stars' so that every athlete can learn the fundamental building blocks of athleticism before moving on to more focused training.



Rising Stars Wall drills at UU


Rising Stars is an athlete development initiative delivered weekly by coaches deployed and trained by Athletics NI. The programme is led by Tom Reynolds (Athlete Development lead) and Laura Kerr (Coach Development and Physical Preparation Lead.) Rising Stars focuses on delivering a sound physical preparation programme and a multi event approach to athletes aged 12-15 years old. Research by England Athletics shows that young athletes engaged in a multi event programme are less likely to become injured or drop out in their later teens. ‘Bridging the Gap’

The programme addresses the physical preparation needs of early teens who have increasingly sedentary lifestyles. We aim to improve their physical competency preparing them to fulfill their potential in any sport. The recent success of Rising Stars graduates such as Katie Monteith (Irish U15 60m Champion and Ulster Schools Combined Events Champion,) Kate O’Connor (European Youth Championships, Hepthathlon-7th) and Ethan Williamson (Double Irish Schools Champion- Hurdles and Triple Jump) demonstrates that young athletes can still achieve success whilst being engaged in a programme focused on long term athlete development.



Kate O’Connor


Many of these young athletes are identified through school taster sessions and have limited previous exposure to athletics. During 2016/17 and with the support of clubs, councils and keen coaches the programme will be delivered in 8 regions including Downpatrick, Newry, Belfast, Bangor, Jordanstown, Coleraine & Antrim. To increase the capacity and geographical reach of the initiative for 2016/17 Athletics NI will be working with local clubs to assist with sustainable delivery and to provide coach development opportunities. New athletes will also be signposted to join their local club in addition to attending 1 Rising Stars session per week for 3 terms.

Each 90 minute Rising Stars session prepared by the Athletics NI Coaching Department includes…a dynamic warm up focused on movement competency, a running component with an acceleration, maximum velocity or hurdling focus, a push or pull throw progression and a long or high jump progression. All event progressions and coaching cues used in Rising Stars programmes can be found at the links below. Rising Stars coaches progress athletes according to their competency levels often spending at least 6 weeks on each of the progressions shown in the resources (which are available for download free of charge.) Athletics NI have also prepared resources for weekly delivery and will share term time programmes on a regular basis.

Acceleration – For Sprints, Hurdles and Endurance running

Upright / Maximum Velocity Running – for sprints, hurdles, endurance and Javelin


Rising Star: Erin Fisher


Hurdles – For 100/110m Hurdles, 300/400m Hurdles and 3000m Steeplechase

Javelin-pull throw progression to prepare an athlete for javelin

Shot-push throw progressions

High Jump-focusing on approach run and bar clearance

Long Jump-focusing on preparation for take off and landing

800m – Preparation for middle distance with a focus on pacing

Relays – Using the “Push Pass” exchange as used in the 4x100m relay


Athletes or parents who have a query about a Rising Stars programme should contact Athlete Development Lead: tom@athleticsni.org.


Coaches who would like to gain experience by delivering alongside Athletics NI Coaches on a regional programme before embedding this multi event initiative within their own club should contact Coach Development Lead: laura@athleticsni.org.