Athletics NI Open Academy set for Coleraine

25 October 2017

Athletics NI Open Academy set for Coleraine

Coach Development and Physical Preparation Lead, Laura Kerr, has released details of Athletics NI’s Open Academy to take place at Ulster University, Coleraine on 5th November.

Open Academy days will give any aspiring athletes between the age of 15 & 20 years old, and their coaches, a chance to experience the core concepts behind the Youth Academy Programme.

In the past three years Athletics NI’s weekly Youth Academy, led by 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 2016 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

Similar to last year, 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.  Event specific squad days will be delivered in November and Open Academy Athletes will be invited to attend.

Director of Athletics Jackie Newton explained: “Talent identification research in athletics and other late specialisation sports suggests that is very difficult to predict which young athletes will go on to achieve senior success.

“Indeed, at 14, 15 and 16 years old 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 and is available to Athletes from any region of Northern Ireland.

The first Open Academy session for 2017-2018  will run on Sunday 5th November 2017 at Ulster University, Coleraine with space for 20 Athlete-Coach pairs. This half day Academy Session (12-4pm) will involve:

  • Discussion of talent, mindset and high performance behaviours
  • Introduction to physical competency screening and baseline practical assessments for the athletes
  • Movement session including mobility drills (relevant to event group,) dynamic warm up, remedial plyometrics and running drills
  • Introduction to strength training (with UKSCA Accredited & Associate S&C Coaches) with a focus on squat, lunge, hinge, brace, push and pull patterns. Training may involve bodyweight only or kettlebell/ barbell/dumbbells depending on the athletes experience and physical competency screening.

Before signing up to attend the first Open Academy Session parents should check their personal coach’s availability to attend. Contact details for the personal coach of the athlete must also be provided at the point of registration.

The Youth Academy curriculum and follow up resources are published on and coaches can review 2016 content here.

Click here to book Open Academy Day 1 now for a cost of £18 per athlete-coach pair.