Athletics 365, a teaching and coaching programme for young athletes developed by Scott Grace, was awarded the 2014 European Athletics Innovation Overall Prize at the Golden Tracks Awards in Baku and the programme has helped to transform athletics at grassroots and youth level in England.
Athletics 365 is a multi-event development programme aimed at youngsters which introduces athletes to the fundamental skills of athletics. The programme focuses not only on how fast you run or how far you jump or throw but on developing the technical skills to perform at your full potential and decrease the likelihood of injury.
The Athletics 365 programme, which is also available as an app, is broken down into nine progressive stages - not too dissimilar to the belt system in martial arts. Each stage provides athletes with new and progressively more difficult challenges appropriate to their stage of development. A young athlete has to demonstrate eighty percent proficiency at each skill before they can progress to the next level.
The programme has also had an impact in terms of broadening coaches’ horizons as well.
“I think what Athletics 365 does is that it brings best practice to the centre of the coaching session and it does it in such a way that even the most inexperienced coach and pick up and run with something they were probably afraid of doing,” said athletics coach David Millett.
“You imagine a situation where a lot of people are happy running an endurance or sprint session but something like triple jump or hammer would frighten them. Athletics 365 shows a simple way of structuring that and how to integrate it.”
And the idea of being multi-skilled - and having fun - are at the core of the programme as creator Scott Grace reiterates.
“The 365 philosophy is about being multi-skilled so they get to try everything. It’s a fun, curriculum-based programme which introduces progressive development in every event. Every child feels they are really engaged and really valued and doing something at the appropriate level,” he said.
“The first few years of rolling out Athletics 365 have been an exciting time and just to get that recognition from European Athletics was an incredibly proud for me and incredibly proud for England Athletics.”
“I congratulate England Athletics for this exciting programme, which is already having a significant impact on the grassroots of the sport in Britain and could well be a model for other countries,” said European Athletics Council Member Dr. Sylvia Barlag, who is the chair of the jury.
“The jury was impressed, first of all with how Athletics 365 creatively addresses the development of young athletes and how to retain them in the sport and then with how its implementation adds a new dimension to the operations and sustainability of athletics clubs.”
The programme has also been backed by top British athletes such as Jessica Ennis-Hill, Christine Ohuruogu and Steve Backley.