Dr. Wolfgang Ritzdorf

10 February 1955 - 12 April 2023

What a very special privilege it is to walk some steps in our life with a giant. For that is how all in athletics coaching saw Wolfgang Ritzdorf.
Wolfgang was a truly great person, a deeply valued friend and both a ground breaker and world leader as a coach to athletes and to coaches across the Globe. He prepared athletes such as Ulrike Meyfarth and Heike Henkel personally to Olympic Gold and others through their coaches to mount the high jump podium at Olympic, World and World Junior, European and European Junior Championships and at other W.A. Area and National Championships too.

His masterpiece World Leading High Jump and Pole Vault Conference in Cologne influenced athlete performance and coach preparation again to podium level in Pole Vault at Olympic, World, European, other Area and National levels.

His leadership of the W.A. CECS Editorial Board and programme made coach development in athletics the cutting edge of International Federation Coach Education and Certification programmes.

Wolfgang was a tireless member of EACA council and supporter of IFAC. When asked to present or lead a jumps dedicated part of IFAC, he always accepted, no matter how many commitments he was already handling.
And all of this on top of his prestigeous position as Senior Lecturer and Head of the Athletics Department at the German Sport University Cologne. Whether as teacher, speaker or researcher in high jump, coaching and performance theory and practice his impact has been significant and substantial.

In his many article and papers in W.A. New studies in Athletics and other international journals, he set the benchmark of quality.
At any championships or games at any level in the world you will find coaches or athletes whose athletics career or indeed lives he has advantaged.

The immense strength of character of this great person saw him face this dreadful illness with unmatchable courage till the end.
When he closed his eyes for the last time, he must have reflected with real pride that in his life he changed the world of coaching in athletics not only for this generation, but for generations to come.

His life was our profound gain, his passing is our profound loss.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Doro and the family.

Thank you, Wolfgang, for the privilege of walking these steps with you.
EACA invites coaches and athletes to send their personal reflection of their experience of working with our friend and colleague.

Supercoaches: Ans Botha

All IFACs are special in bringing top Coaching and Performance experts to share their expertise with EACA members.

IFAC 2016 in Formia, Italy was no exception.

From 2014 to 2016 I had the privilege of being consultant Performance Director in South Africa, in preparing for the Rio Olympics.

In that time I had opportunity to work with Ans Botha, coach to Wayde Van Nierkerk, as she prepared him to challenge for Olympic 400m Gold and for a World Record in the process.

We met after the Beijing World Championships in 2015 and discussed what it would take to run 43:00 secs.  Analysis suggested 20.5 for first 200; 22.5 for second.

That would seem impossible to many but not to Ans and Wayde.

First, on 12 March 2016 he ran 9.98 for 100m in Bloemfontein to become the first man in history to run sub 10 secs in 100m, sub 20secs in 200m; and sub 44 sec in 400m.

He then repeatedly won 200 races in around 20.5 secs.

All this was the genius of Ans Botha in preparing Wayde to be physically, mentally and emotionally ready for a brilliant run from lane 8 in the Rio Olympic 400m final.

On the night his 100m splits were 10.7; 9.8 (20.5 200m); 10.8; 11.3 when the times were corrected to 0.00 that gave 43.03 – a new world record and gold medal.

EACA is proud to have been the first sports body, National or International, to invite Ans, one of history’s greatest athletics coaches, to share her experience and expertise with the coaching community.  Not only did Ans give a presentation/interview but conducted a seminar for 400m coaches and another for female coaches.

She truly is a wonderful person.

If you want to know more about her story, all EACA’s website members can watch my interview with her.

EACA’s website Premium and Pro members can also watch her speaking at IFAC 2016 in Formia (Italy) and IFAC 2020 online.

A Christmas message

Hi Superstars,

Thank you for belonging to Europe’s Athletics Coaching Community!

It’s been a great year of progress for EACA:

  • New on line Member Services;
  • First Hybrid IFAC;
  • Delivering WA Coaches’ Clubs for the Global Athletics Coaching Academy in Belgrade, Eugene and Cali.

And thanks to you, we now have the highest number of EACA website members  ever! 1369!
We’d like you to know we really appreciate your support in making this progress and look forward to improving thing farther in 2023. By the way, we’re only 31 less to 1400 so, please, help EACA to reach 1400 before the end of the 2022!

Meanwhile, on behalf of EACA Council and our staff, we wish you, your family and friends a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy, Fulfilling and Successful 2023.

Frank and Giacomo

To all EACA’s 1038 members who made EACA a leader among all the Coaches Associations in the world in this 2021: you are more than Superstars, you are Supercoaches!

Personally and on behalf of EACA Council I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas  and a Happy, Healthful and Successful 2022. 

Keep smiling,

Frank Dick OBE

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

As the holiday season is upon us we find ourselves reflecting on the challenging past year, with the world fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s been a difficult year for us all so we hope that the new year will be memorable for you and your loved ones.

On the behalf of all the European Athletics Coaches Association team members, I’d like to thank all of the coaches who joined the EACA, well knowing that we can offer to them much more than what we are offering now. And, believe me, we will.

For now, let me wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Frank Dick OBE

NACACTFCA 2020 Conference: recorded sessions

What a wonderful weekend watching the NACACTFCA 2020 Conference! 

If you haven’t had the chance to watch it live, don’t worry: you can always get the access to the recordings of the whole conference, session by session. 

The price is always $50,00, discounted at €35,00 for all the EACA members.

The recordings are enriched with the subtitles in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, and German.

Dan O’Brien will speak at NACACTFCA 2020 Conference

Combined events seems to be the reigning event during the next NACACTFCA conference.

After announcing coach Harry Marra a week ago, now we are here again to say that Dan O’Brien has been announced as a new entry in the congress’ line-up.

Dan is the former Decathlon WR holder, Olympic champion and three times World Champion and he will talk about the resources and opportunities for athletes to support their growth.

If you’re still thinking if to subscribe or not, please, read the updated program: we are sure that you’ll run to the subscribe form!

‘Take home’ after IFAC 2020

It is a fact of life that even when we listen to the same presentation in the same conference, we each hear something different. So there will have been as many lessons learned from IFAC 2020 as there were participants!

So please read these lessons I learned in that context. Those who attended hopefully on reading these will be reminded of the excellent input from speakers and their own lessons learned will be reviewed and refreshed. Those who did not might reflect on the following and create their own.

As we move forward with IFAC and EACA, I think it would be a good idea after each IFAC to share our lessons learned and ideas they generate on dedicated pages of the EACA website. This would become our “learning locker room!”

So these for me were key take-aways as lessons learned.

  1. A winning culture is founded on a learning culture. Learning is a never ending story and we must bring structure to it if we are to be consistent winners:
    • Build a robust foundation of basics and keep refreshing them
    • Be meticulous in preparation and briefing
    • Learn on the move from life experience
    • De-brief forensically – hot and cold de-briefs
    • Revisit and relearn from cumulative experience
  2. Coaches must adopt a new way of thinking in learning how to adapt to a hybrid approach of teaching and learning. What can be taught sits well with virtual communication. This embraces the science of coaching and the technical skills that are the tools of our trade. What can be learned sits best with practical experience. This embraces the art of coaching and the people skills in our work.
  3. Female and male coaches bring unique skill sets to coaching and it is clear we must be more committed to and engaged with understanding how to harmonize those skills not only to achieve athlete and coach development and performance excellence, but to bring coaching itself to a new level.
  4. The dreadful days we have been going through in the face of the COVID19 Pandemic has tested out ability to be creative, adaptable and versatile in applying our skills in a climate of restriction and uncertainty. But we have risen well to the challenge, even to learning on the move how to address mental and emotional health issues. Critically, such issues will not disappear when the Pandemic ends. Going forward we must sharpen our observation skills to be ahead of the game in recognising stress signatures to coach both athletes and coaches in being better prepared to protect against such issues.
  5. Related to this was an effective policy applied in the Netherlands of coaches holding training at a level of 6 week readiness to compete.
  6. Traditionally Coach Education Programmes do not teach coaches how to learn and as a consequence coaches do not normally teach athletes how to learn. Greater input to coach education programmes from Cognitive Psychology is essential to correcting this.
  7. As technology has greater and greater impact as a means of informing coaches decision making, Artificial Intelligence will become a valuable contributor in synthesising the tsunami of data now available. It is not more data that we need but digestible and usable information.
  8. Coaches have responsed to World Athletics President, Lord Coe’s “vision and interest that a body be formed from amongst the coaching community dedicated to Athletics Coaching related matters and to facilitate bringing necessary change.” That response is the creation of the Global Athletics Coaching Academy (GACA) embracing Education, Regulation, Support and Representation. Area and National Athletics Coaches Associations are part of GACA’s strategy in building a World Athletics Coaches Community. This is an important moment in Athletics History for coaches to be responsible and accountable for the future of Athletics Coaches and Coaching.

These were the bigger general take away lessons. There were many more at the specific level and I’m sure you’ll pick up on these by listening to the excellent presentations and panel discussions.


Frank Dick OBE

IFAC 2020: last days to sign up

Less than one week before the first session of the 2020 International Festival of Athletics Coaching means that anyone interested to attend has to hurry up and book to gain access to the live stream page.

Don’t miss the opportunity to listen from great coaches like Ans Botha, Helena Duplantis, Malcolm Arnold and Vern Gambetta but also from experts coming from different areas like brain specialist prof. Vin Walsh and Jonathan Boase, who is working on an Artificial Intelligence solution to analyze team sports’ playing and support coaches in talent identification.

Register today for only €99,00 and live the magic of the Festival!