UK Coaching Week: Marc Waggitt

We continue our celebration of inclusive coaches during UK Coaching Week with Marc Waggitt!

Marc first assisted British Blind Sport at our National Youth Swimming Gala earlier this year. He gave up his own time to deliver our beginner's swimming lessons and we soon realised what a gem we had discovered in Marc! Marc has coached in the UK and USA across a variety of sports and has had multiple students win medals, including at the Special Olympics.

Marc lives in the North East with his wife Susan and son Jack, who has a visual impairment himself. Jack's dream is to become the first blind scooter rider from the UK involved with Nitro Circus - and with a father like Marc, we think that's a very achievable dream!

What role does coaching play in your life?  

It’s a massive part of my life and has been from the age of 19 (I’m 46 now!)

What made you get in to coaching and how did you become an inclusive coach?

I found my way into Sports Science via college after getting a Saturday job in a specialist running shop.  I found the mechanics of the body fascinating, something I never picked up on in school. My inclusive coaching began when I started outdoor pursuits during my HND BSc and I found a love for helping people who never thought certain things possible.  Particularly after I became registered as disabled,
I saw the lack of benefits for people with disabilities and their opportunities in sports.

What has been your coaching highlight during your career?

Winning Regional Sports Coach of the Year in 2012, and also being nominated for a similar award with UK Coaching where I was in the same category as Adam Peaty’s coach in 2019.

What challenges do you face as an inclusive coach?

My biggest is cost. Unfortunately, I feel as soon as you require anything specialist the price is massively increased and have found myself adapting and solving problems constantly.  I also suffer from anxiety and depression and this is a personal challenge to overcome during coaching and teaching.

Do you play or participate in sport yourself?

I was a regular swimmer but recently my chronic pain has restricted my activity.  My specialist has recommended trying to cycle 5 minutes a day, if possible, with pain management.

How has lockdown and social distancing impacted your ability to coach your participants? What has helped you to stay active during this time? 

I have done zero hours coaching during lockdown due to pool and leisure facilities closing. However, I have taught fitness and exercise to my visually impaired son and helped advise on his scooter sports development. Walking my dog has also been my personal form of exercise.

Do you have any encouragement or words of wisdom for someone with sight loss who wants to get in to sport or physical activity but may be apprehensive or not know where to start?

Maybe not so much words of wisdom...but just give it a go! If you don’t try it you’ll never know if you like it.  Prior to Covid-19, I’d help out with VI Climbing and just getting off the ground is an achievement for anyone but these guys were “topping out” the wall, which was all done via feel and communication!  Find a sport or activity using the BBS Activity Finder - it’s a brilliant tool and I’ve told many people about it and to register their club or organisation if they have VI coaches.

Anything else to add? 

If you have any doubts please ask.  A good coach should be approachable; they should be dynamic in teaching and enthusiastic.  If they cannot cater for your needs or help find someone who can, they may not be the coach for you.  Make sure you build a connection and relationship with your coach because you need to trust them. Coaching is teaching, you will be learning from this person. 

Don’t forget - a visual impairment is a mere restriction we can get around.