This was my first visit to the conference, now in its’ fifth year, and I have to say I was suitably impressed at the level of organization and quality of the presenting speakers throughout the whole weekend. Quite often you get the impression through adverts, the media and some of the people in you meet in the fitness industry that the area is solely focused on sales related to new fads and miracle training methods that achieve the ‘ultimate’ goal of looking like the people they put on their posters. In the area of Strength and Conditioning, I’m glad to say, this doesn’t appear to be the case.
As the industry continues to grow and develop in the UK, it is clear to see a thirst for evidence based practise with protocols backed up by real science. There were some superb examples among the speakers relating their laboratory based science to usable techniques in the field, Inigo Mujika’s talk on tapering was a particular highlight in this respect. What was also impressive was a lack willingness by the audience to soak up this information based only on the credentials of the speaker and their peer reviewed work; a critical eye was trained on the data with speakers questioned on the results presented and possibility of future work to back up any holes.
A number of speakers made their way from abroad, more than I’d anticipated and having thought about this after the weekend I’m glad to see this. I think it’s always useful to get ideas from sources that face different challenges, be that through different sports or populations, than those faced by coaches in this country who often can find home based knowledge bases fairly easily. It is also not everyday you get the chance to talk to guys working with throwers in Qatar or NFL athletes in the US!!
Based on what I saw and experienced at the conference, I’d say that the industry is certainly headed in the right direction. Care needs to be taken though to ensure funding pathways and long term athlete development don’t result in confusion and coaches working in different directions, systems need to be designed to ensure all roads lead to the same destination…..gold medals, world records and championships for our athletes!