Five questions to… Jamie McDonald

Welcome to the sixth episode of the “Five questions to…” column dedicated to IFAC 2019 speakers, while approching the event.

The same five questions will be asked to each speaker and it will be interesting to see how they will answer differently. So, stay tuned on IFAC website and its social accounts!


Five questions to… Jamie McDonald

Over the last eight years athletics in Scotland has seen a meteoric growth and development in all areas.

This session will outline the key stages in the journey and progression in club development.

The session will explore the leadership, support, resources and programmes programs that have facilitated the growth, including the innovative Club Together Project (paid development staff working within clubs) and our evolving programme of Club Modernisation. 

Real Club Models will be offered to illustrate application in practice.

At IFAC 2019 he will present on “Revolution to evolution – a journey of club modernisation in Scotland 2011 – 2019” stream: come and listen to him in Loughborough!

1) Let’s go back to your early years: how did you become passionate about sport and what was your path to becoming an expert coach?

My passion for sport developed from a young age – in primary school.  I was interested in a variety of sports – swimming, gymnastics, football and athletics.  I was also keen to play sport with my family and friends at every opportunity. I joined my first athletics club at 12 years old.

From a sports development perspective after leaving University I set out working life in sports development departments in two local authorities.  Since then, for almost 14 years, I have worked within the Scottish Athletics Development Team.


2) How do you develop your continuous learning?

The best learning I have is through working with others – from other staff members, clubs, volunteers, other sports and sports development professionals. There is so much good practice to learn and pick up on a daily basis.

The Scottish Athletics Development Team have recently introduced a ILM accredited Club Leaders   Academy aimed at our Club Leaders.  This programme has also been very useful for my own development and learning.

3) What technology do you use and how important is the use of technological equipment in your training?

Scottish Athletics recognise the importance of technology to help support our clubs in terms of club development.  Working alongside GB Sport we have recently launched Club Serve a sports club governance and membership software system.  Included within the software for our affiliated clubs are:

  • Club Reviews – surveys which help clubs to establish their current position and to identify priorities for future work;
  • Online Training Courses – provide expert, easy to follow advice in a number of key areas of your club’s business.
  • Club Documents Library – stores all of your club documents in one secure place;
  • Support Resources – all document templates, guidance documents, resources and best practice examples from scottishathletics in one place;
  • Club Planning Tool – an online planning tool which enables you to create an action plan for your club.
4) Injuries are often part of the game but some are avoidable: how do you challenge your athletes but still keep them safe?
As a Governing Body we have placed a lot of emphasis in recent years on our coach development support and programme – this includes athlete development and physical preparation courses and resources.  We still have lots of work to progress however the intention is to ensure that athletes develop and deliver the required physical competencies throughout the athletic pathway – hopefully challenging but keeping them safe.
5) What do you do in your downtime? Do you ever relax and how?

I still enjoy running and run almost every day – this year I completed the Mont Blanc Marathon.  Also having two young children – aged 2 and 5 – is a great way to relax and switch off from athletics!


Thanks to Jamie McDonald!