Influences and Mentorships
If I were to write something about everyone that had ever given up their time to help or guide me then this page would be never ending. So a thank you to you all.
Below I have picked just a few people to comment on whom I have worked closest with...
Ryan Freckleton PGCE, ASCC
Head of Academy at Oaklands and Lead Coach of Team Wired, I have worked closely with Ryan since I started at the college in 2015. Professionally, and personally, Ryan has been my greatest influence to date. From a professional perspective Ryan has taught me how to be a coach in a high-performance environment. Our continued discussions cover a breadth and depth of knowledge, the most prominent being: 1) Considerations in managing neurological load when integrating track and gym programmes for developing and elite athletes 2) Biomechanical and physiological factors when coaching world class sprinters 3) Understanding fatigue, recovery strategies and differences in athlete readiness for training and competition. Through knowing Ryan as a person I have learned that to make a difference, to be successful, coaching is not a job but a way of life. If we want to achieve then we set our standard and everything we do rises to that standard. My constant work ethic - reflective ability and confidence - comes from the questions and challenges that he pushed me to answer and overcome.
Erik Little MA Coach Education
I met Erik whilst at university. At the time he was a National Coach Mentor for High Jump and for 3 years Erik mentored me as I trained alongside his group. He helped me form my original coaching philosophy based around the various ways the neuromuscular system can be conditioned with minimal equipment by using correct plyometric development. The conclusions wrought from discussions that I had with Erik are still used as foundation elements within my programming today. These discussions covered topics such as: teaching different landing mechanics between plyometric exercises and sprint mechanics and the use of voluntary squeeze-push contractions to enhance neural pathways.
James Grant MSc, PGC HE, ASCC
James was my strength & conditioning coach, high performance academy manager and a course tutor whilst I was at university. Solents’ high performance academy was the first place that I witnessed integrated teamwork from an S&C coach and Physiotherapist and James’s professionalism and meticulous attention to detail were paramount. Until I left university I did not realise that the biggest lesson I learned was as an athlete - understanding the value of asking why. James always explained our programmes to us as individual sessions, cycles and then how it all fit into our annual plan. We were then able to use various monitoring strategies which we, as athletes, understood. James’ influence is so engrained in my practice that understanding and explaining the why behind things is now part of my everyday life as well as professional practice.
Gordon Bosworth Physiotherapist
Gordon attended our monthly meetings for staff development at Oaklands College. By using academy athletes as case studies, Gordon has taught me that when we apply knowledge to practice, simply seeing cause and effect is not enough. By linking multiple pieces of information together from the entire musculoskeletal chain, we begin to see the bigger picture and uncover the mechanism causing the dysfunction as opposed to continually addressing the symptom.
Rob Hill BSc (hons) Ost Med, D.O, N.D, PG Cert
Rob Hill was an Osteopath with Oaklands College before taking a role at British Athletics. I have also used Rob on a consultancy basis with my non-academy athletes. Rob has mainly influenced me with his skills and knowledge of joint manipulation: how joints can become impinged and compressed thus creating compensatory patterns throughout the rest of the body, and how manual therapy and exercises are able to resolve this. As a therapist, better understanding how joints articulate allows for more efficient practice and as a coach it enables me to quickly observe and systematically assess whether an athlete needs intervention.
Tawanda Musaka BSc (hons), MSST
The lead therapist at Oaklands College Academy and an EIS consultant therapist, Tawandas’ influence on my practice stems mostly from trackside performance therapy. When working trackside with Tawanda we observe athletes’ movement and then discuss our different viewpoints; his from a therapist perspective and mine from that of a coach. These observations and discussions have helped me, as a coach, provide more effective guidance when teaching athlete self-maintenance. As has feeding off of his extensive knowledge on how the muscular system interconnects and how tightness, laxity and strength or weakness in certain areas affect posture and movement as a whole.
Tom Sparks M.Ost, N.D, FAFS, CAFS
Tom was an Osteopath with Oaklands Academy and Team Wired. His passion for functional science, exercise rehabilitation and nutrition have, like Gordon, taught me to link information from different fields together. The area in which Tom’s guidance was the most beneficial to me was in showing me how minor tweaks to posture during stretching can target more specific areas of musculoskeletal dysfunction. He also explained how incorporating gentle movement to certain stretches can be similarly advantageous. Tweaking movements like this is a strategy I now use daily to help athletes individualize their pre and post session routines and also to help them think “outside the box” and to not be afraid of trying something different in their sessions.