On the 30th June, 1st and 2nd of July the 2nd ITF Coaches Conference was held in Limerick, Ireland under the auspices of the ITF Coaches Committee. Over 100 Coaches, Instructors and students from 16 countries attended a weekend of learning, sharing, discussing and socialising in the beautiful surroundings of the University of Limerick. We were delighted on this occasion to have visitors from Argentina, New Zealand, Canada, USA and across Europe. Coordinated by Master Adrian Byrne, Master Stephen Ryan and Grandmaster Wim Bos, the conference blends practical Taekwon-Do coaching with theory based lectures and inputs from experts from academia and other sports.
This year we opened with a psychology lecture on performing under pressure delivered by Master Leonardo Oros Duek, President of the AETF and Treasurer of the ITF. A very energetic talk was well received and questions were quickly answered. Following this, a detailed presentation by Declan O’Leary of Sport Ireland on incorporating the development of physical literacy to increase the likelihood of maintaining involvement in Taekwon-Do throughout the lifespan. Many of the attendees were excited to see high level thinking on how to enhance people’s lives through physical confidence, competence, knowledge and understanding.
We then moved to the University of Limerick Arena where participants could choose between two workshops; The development of Kicking ability and Flexibility with GM Bos and Master Ryan or the first of Master Tapilatu’s sparring clinics. Both were very well attended and the coaches eased into a learning mode that would last all weekend. All of our presenters made every effort to engage with and involve the participants as coaches and not as athletes/students. Questioning, individual thinking and problem solving were encouraged and supported.
Both groups were thoroughly energised for the final workshops of the first day, choosing between ‘Preparation for high level pattern performance’ with Sabum Brider and ‘Effective training for power test’ with Sabum Doogan. Participants explored different ways of delivering feedback in pattern and some tips and tricks to make the boards seem softer.
Our morning started with a very engaging lecture on Skill Acquisition delivered by Dr Philip Kearney. Our participants were walked through the theory behind developing critical thinkers and decision makers in sparring by having coaches be more FERAL (it’s an acronym).
Participants could then follow the lecture with a practical exposition of the theory led by Masters Byrne and Ryan or the second variation on Sabum Brider’s pattern workshop. Participants experimented with constraints led approaches to sparring in order to tackle commonly encountered challenges and different ways to look at movement in pattern, matching feel to performance cues.
The next choice was between a fascinating look into how gymnasts address flexibility development from Adam Doyle of Irish Gymnastics or a fun session of experimenting with training methods for special technique with Sabum Doogan. Note taking was frantic as participants got golden nuggets of information from Adam Doyle, highlighting correct posture and alignment throughout each exercise. Meanwhile, participants were flying high and finding new ways to land with Sabum Doogan.
Following lunch a high tempo Sparring workshop took place with Master Tapilatu looking at building combinations effectively and under pressure. Adam Doyle of Irish Gymnastics was also back on the mats with his second presentation on the development of safe and effective jumping and landing for pre adolescents. Another detailed and fascinating look at a very universal topic.
Our day finished with a very passionate and energetic lecture on building a successful club and organisation from Grandmaster Per Andresen based on values, high energy and big smiles. This led very nicely to a social gathering as we went to the Stables Courtyard for a BBQ and some local beverages.
Our final day of learning began with a further exploration of constraints led approaches for athlete decision making in sparring with Masters Byrne and Ryan paired with a pattern Grand Masterclass from GM Per Andresen and GM Bos assisted in this case by Sabum Brider.
Our final sessions were another high tempo sparring session focused on Blitz and Back Kick form Master Tapilatu and a continuation on the earlier power test session from Sabum Doogan focusing on various ways to approach the side kick. Some of the participants made 4 board breaks as a nice personal best to take home from the conference.
The final touch was a panel discussion with all of our presenters answering questions from participants across the whole range of topics covered during the conference. We also heard some feedback from the group and perhaps our favourite was “we need one of these every year”.
All in all a fantastic weekend of sharing knowledge, skills and experiences in a fun and relaxed atmosphere for all coaches, instructors and interested students. Thank you to all who attended and made this such a special event. Looking forward to the next one!
Master Adrian Byrne
ITF Coaches Committee