Each summer JROS – the Junior Regional Orienteering Squads – put on several junior training camps for different ages. This includes taking 20+ M/W14s to Lagganlia Centre for Outdoor Education, near Aviemore in Scotland. Not only do they aim to improve the athletes, but they have a stated goal of coach development. JROS successfully applied to the Orienteering Foundation in 2016 for funds to support their aim
to target 6 to 8 junior ‘trainee’ coaches to join the tour
They very successfully met this aim, including developing the following junior coaches (all 20 years or younger):
- Julie Emmerson and Michael Adams took leading roles for one of the coaching groups and did an excellent job with their athletes.
- Katie Wright built on her experience from coaching last year and is being encouraged to take a UKCC Level 2 qualification next year.
- Aidan Rigby, Ella Gilbert, Matt Fellbaum and Pippa Dakin joined the forest team for the first time this year and all showed an excellent aptitude for coaching and will be encouraged to attend more tours in the future.
The junior coach development included splitting athletes into groups with assigned coaches helping through the week, mixing more experienced senior coaches with junior coaches to improve coach learning, and the developing coaches being including in writing draft reports on the athletes in their groups. There was a lot of two-way interaction between the coaches and athletes and often sessions went on longer than planned in response to athlete participation! There were also daily coach debrief sessions on the day’s activities, which provided much useful discussion and encouraged all to contribute as well as providing a useful opportunity for coach development.
The tour manager’s report explicitly noted:
Once again the Orienteering Foundation grant allowed a higher ratio of coaches to juniors and this was beneficial to the athletes as they gained from more individual attention. Extra staffing allowed specific tasks to be allocated to individual coaches without impacting on athlete contact.
Several of the athlete comments also reflected the benefit of having a strong and enthusiastic coaching team:
My best time orienteering ever! Amazing terrain, testing exercises and brilliant coaches with valuable advice. I loved all of it.
I have learnt a lot at Lagganlia with the help of my coaches and to know my strengths and weaknesses.
Great fun, lots of helpful support from coaches, not just in the forest. New friends, fantastic experiences. Lots of improvement.