The playing programme
Ultimately the playing programme (the combination of coaching, training and competition) should assist the participant to realise his/her potential. It should, for all sports, take account of the Long-term Athlete Development model (LTAD) as the development of talented young people is a complicated process that is influenced by many factors.
NGBs realise the importance of getting the playing programme right for children and young people and many link their recommendations on playing programmes to the LTAD model. These may well evolve over time in response to new information and research, reviews of coaching techniques and revisions of competition structures.
Clubs need to be aware of:
- Club coaching sessions
The NGB states the minimum participation:coach ratios and this varies between sports. For example angling expects that coaching supervision should be 1:1 for beginners next to open water. Athletics, on the other hand permits ratios of 1:12.
There is also a minimum number of sessions required to attain Clubmark accreditation. However seasonality is taken into account. Coaching for cricket tends to diminish in August when the majority of competitive matches have taken place; winter nets for juniors though are not uncommon. Likewise there is likely to be more canoeing activity in summer than in the depths of winter.
- Competitive structures
Developing a competition programme is vital for young people as it is one reason why many join a sports club in the first place. Clubs are required to provide suitable intra and/or inter club competition according to NGB guidelines. Many sports have league structures at local, regional and national level. For example, young people may compete on a weekly basis in hockey or netball, however, it would be completely inappropriate for young people to compete in a full marathon on a weekly basis!
- Coaching staff
Coaching staff have a key role in establishing an appropriate coaching environment and creating a successful playing programme. All sports have to demonstrate that coaches are trained to appropriate levels and that the activity undertaken in the club reflects best practice in the development of young people. For example. coaches are required to ensure that young people do not train excessively or in conditions that may cause injury or discomfort. The emphasis within Clubmark is that coaches are supported in their professional development, so when new ideas or updates (e.g., LTAD) become available the NGB supports its coaches to understand and implement them.
- Club venue
Clubmark clubs must ensure that both the venue and equipment are fit for purpose and appropriate for the age groups and ability levels of the performers using them. One method of ensuring that facilities are ‘fit for purpose’ is to perform a risk assessment. This is a check of facilities, equipment and safety procedures to see if they comply with the standards expected by the NGB.
Split Second Sport Community Tennis Club acknowledge that "providing the evidence demonstrates the fact that you are working safely, communicating well with players and parents and that you are delivering a quality on court programme. It ensures that you are using best practice for your whole programme, and it was actually fun seeing how many pieces of evidence we could provide for each section".