By George that was a Talent Camp to remember!

George Symonds

George Symonds of Clevedon ASC shares some of the great memories of the Youth Sport Trust National Talent Camp he attended for young athletes, coaches and officials.

On arrival we were given our bags for the weekend. This consisted of a blue t-shirt which we had to wear that day, a pink top, a white one and a yellow one. Also I had a work booklet, hoodie, water bottle and lanyard.  

After changing into a top you could basically merge with everyone at the whole event, and we played loads of games like splatt, duck duck goose, and all sorts of other little teasers. We got into our National Governing Bodies (mine was swimming) and went off to a classroom in another building. Steph Elliot talked to us about what we would be doing over the next couple days and then we got into our groups i.e. coach, athlete or official.
National Talent Camp

Next came the opening ceremony which was all about the experience and knowledge we will gain.

Then we split off into our assigned groups, which meant we were with a group of coaches but from different NGB's so we had cycling, table tennis, volleyball, softball, wheelchair basketball, swimming, football, tennis and some others.

The first day was all about your philosophy, your beliefs, concepts, and attitudes - how you hold certain beliefs, how you respond to different things, how you then deal with certain consequences and how you adjust and strenghen your beliefs. 

Then we spoke about the key aspects of a coach, what things you would need to be the best. We made diamond 9's so you pick one top answer two second best, three third, two fourth, one fifth. And we spoke about how knowledge doesn’t necessarily make you a good coach, sometimes it's more about the enthusiasm and passion.  

Then we came up with brands that represented us. Somebody had fairtrade coffee, because their coaching style is original and organic! 

Dinner was a lovely fish and chips. Afterwards we had a lesson and spoke about how we can now change and adapt our philosophy to different situations. Swimming got held up so on the first night we didn’t get to the hotel until 12. 

We had a nice early start at 6am and were on the coach for 6:45am and into  the big sport hall for endurance circuits before breakfast which everyday was an amazing full English. 
National Talent Camp

Saturday was all about our moral compass, where does it lie? That was the big question, what do you perceive to be right and wrong, where are the grey areas, what would you do in certain situations even if you believe it to be against the rules? So we spoke about honesty and ethics and integrity. What are your ethics? So we discussed what are your principles and moral values.

Sunday started with power circuits. The full English was definitely needed that day. For me this was the most interesting day.
National Talent Camp

Pre live lab, we spoke about our coaching style, so how you observe and give feedback, how you let your athletes learn from other athletes, how you let them teach themselves and how you as a coach can improve and develop them. 

Then we went into the live lab where they had three badminton courts set up, a very experienced coach, a physio, and some top badminton players. The coach had brought along his team of about 10 boys and girls ranging from about 11-19y. The coach was microphoned up so we could hear everything he was talking about, and we basically got to observe how he would coach a lesson. I also have the lesson plan if that would be useful! Not only was it amazing to see these people play, it was a really good experience to learn from how he coaches, and how even though it is a completely different sport, I can still adapt that into swimming.

After the live lab we spoke about managing our emotions and our inner chimp. We had a talk from this fascinating guy Steve Peters who gave an amazing talk about how your inner chimp controls you in aggravating situations and we were basically taught how to control it.

On Monday, the last day, everything ached! The morning's circuit was all about speed. Monday covered what we are going to take away from this experience, how we can use others around us to achieve goals. And then we had a big closing ceremony with lots of tears. We made so many new friends that it was sad to see everyone go but we are all still in contact and already planning reunions, so that’s good. 
National Talent Camp

I met some amazing people and it was an awesome experience. I would love to do it all again.

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