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Martin Williamson talks GO TRI Active sessions and coaching during lockdown

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Williamson has created GO TRI Active sessions aimed at juniors aged between 7 and 14 years old. The sessions are not necessarily for juniors who are already involved in the sport, but Williamson is looking to coach children who want to get involved in some sort of activity before potentially moving more into the sport.

“To continue in triathlon would be absolutely brilliant but just get out there and enjoy, with the overall goal of having fun and being active, having an understanding about a healthier lifestyle and meeting new people,” said Williamson.

“The sessions will be fun-based and centred around the Coaching Children and Young People module, with the priority on child-centred coaching, not only helping to develop the children, but the coaches alike.”

GO TRI is British Triathlon’s introductory programme of activities, with local organisers hosting GO TRI Events and Active sessions across the country to provide accessible opportunities for newcomers to give multisport a go.

“To me it’s very important to get children active, no matter what sport, but the great thing we have here for triathletes is that most schools provide swimming lessons, take part in the Bikeability scheme or Learn to Ride and have some form of running activities. So it stands the children in good stead for the fun activities and will build on what they already know and give them an insight into triathlon.”

Giving advice to youngsters who are looking to get involved in multisport, Williamson said: “Give it a go. It’s about having fun and you will learn new skills, meet new friends and be part of a supportive and social network. Most of all, you do not have to be the best at everything, have fun, enjoy and learn.”

When reflecting on the role that the pandemic has played in impacting his experience of multisport over the last year, Williamson said: “The pandemic has impacted greatly on my personal triathlon experience in a number of ways, first from a personal point, I had several races cancelled and deferred until this year. Due to family issues, I’ve deferred them until next year, but on a positive note I’m looking at doing a 70.3 in Southern Spain in 2022.

“This will be a massive achievement for me as ten years ago I was diagnosed with bowel cancer which I can safely say has impacted on my physical and mental health and have only been doing sprint distances due to managing my bowels. Also on a positive side, I am a Level 3 coach and I have several new one-to-one clients which I took on throughout the pandemic.

“From a club viewpoint, we did ‘piggyback’ on other club’s initiatives, so our members had virtual experiences to take part in. We are now planning our exit route and have already started with junior swim sessions and adult cycle sessions on a closed-road facility.”

Williamson personally adapted to the lack of in-person activity by holding weekly Zoom sessions for cycling, with around ten athletes, saying: “This was great and all enjoyed it. Also, I am on a great coaches’ forum that meet up every month on Zoom and discuss coaching topics, this is a massive learning tool that really does get you thinking.

“The advice I would give other coaches from what I have learned over the past twelve months would be to not isolate yourselves from club activities or the social side. I started off at the first lockdown with a ten-mile time trial on an indoor bike, someone else took this over later on and it grew into a great Zwift session and continues to run which is brilliant,” he continued.

Williamson is also a big believer in Continuing Professional Development (CPD), saying: “I would recommend undertaking CPD of any description, even if it is reading a page of a magazine. From my experience and I would advise head coaches to regularly communicate with their club coaches, this in my opinion makes them feel valued as club assets and involve all coaches in coaching matters and session planning, again this gives the club coaches who are volunteers a feeling of club worth.”

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