Exploring the Athlete Development Program

Yard Athlete Development is an elite training program catering to high-level athletes from various sporting backgrounds and experience levels. Specializing in strength training, power development, mobility, & energy system training, our coaching staff have over 30 years of combined experience working with amateur, professional, and international athletes.

Our coaching staff consisting of, Ilan Cumberbirch, Sam Shaw, and Nick Tataryn, have answered some questions below about our renowned program.

1. What type of athletes are best suited for The Yard Athlete Development program?

Any athletes that are seeking to improve their performance in their respective sport. We have worked with Olympians, professionals, collegiate, amateur, youth, Masters athletes, and Parasport athletes from all different sporting backgrounds. NHL Hall of Famers, Boston Marathon competitors, NCAA Hobey Baker nominees, Olympic rowers, International rugby superstars, MLS soccer players; the list goes on. Regardless of who an athlete is, or what they are seeking to achieve; understanding the sport, its requirements from a physiological standpoint, and the athlete’s strengths and weaknesses are what is most important to their development.


Sam Shaw and Ilan Cumberbirch with athlete Tyler Morley


2. How did the program start?

Yard Athlete Development is the by-product of the now-defunct Factory Hockey Player Development, a hockey-specific development company, that at one point was the premier on & off ice hockey programs in BC. Today, we have expanded our scope of practice and work with a wider range of athletes from various sporting backgrounds.

3. What are each coach’s qualifications?

Ilan Cumberbirch

UBC, Bachelor of Kinesiology

CSCS through the National Strength & Conditioning Association; Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist

More important than said accreditations are the thousands of hours spent working on the floor with various athletes and experiencing the rigors of said programming first hand.


Nick Tatyrn 

UW Bachelor of Exercise Science

Bond University, Doctor of Physiotherapy

Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

Experience as a strength coach and as a physiotherapist working with athletes trying to make a name for themselves in their sport, all the way up to star-level players in professional sporting leagues.


Sam Shaw

UBC, Bachelor of Kinesiology

CSCS through the National Strength & Conditioning Association

Over seven years of experience coaching athletes and 15 years of playing competitive sport that led him to the national and provincial level, respectively.


4. What can an athlete expect to walk away with after completing the Yard Athlete Development program?

We can confidently say that every athlete we have ever worked with has left our program in better condition, with improved body composition, increased strength, power, mobility, body awareness, injury resistance, and overall athletic ability. They will also realize the endless capabilities their body and mind can achieve. The mental and emotional commitment is just as important, if not more important than the physical commitment to the program.

5. What’s your favourite part about training athletes?

The relationships which are forged, and the mutual trust and respect which develop between the athlete and coach. You spend a great deal of time with these athletes, and you get to know one another on a much deeper level. You realize and appreciate the impact you can have on their personal lives and athletic careers, and that is a great deal of power and responsibility which is not to be taken lightly. These relationships often result in lifelong friendships which resemble those that are created while playing on a team.

Ilan Cumberbirch with several athletes from the Yard Athlete Development Program


6. Is the style of training sport-specific?

The concept of “sport-specific” is a misnomer. The most “sport-specific” training is to go play said sport. Our job as Strength & Conditioning coaches is to improve on the physical qualities of the athlete, which will subsequently enhance their athletic capability and ability to excel at their respective sport. This can be done by increasing your level of conditioning in specific energy systems, tensile strength, rate of force development, and structural integrity of the musculature, tendons, and ligaments, which are most crucial for your sport. We can decrease the likelihood of injuring highly vulnerable areas by ensuring that any asymmetries and muscular imbalances are addressed.


So no, the training is not “sport-specific,” more accurately, it is specific to the exact needs of the athlete and their respective sport’s physical requirements.


7. What can you expect to get at Yard Athletics that you won’t get anywhere else?

Athletes can expect exceptionally dedicated coaching staff that has a genuine care for their development in and out of their sport, with a culture that revolves around the trust and respect of one another. There is a high level of intent and specificity within our programming that will undoubtedly result in progress from a physiological standpoint. However, it is the demand for excellence between all involved that makes the program unique. Athletes, if committed to the process, will leave a better version of themselves.

The Yard has also partnered up with The Workshop Performance Clinic. All athletes in the program will have the opportunity to have their health and injury concerns addressed by top-tier healthcare professionals. It is incredibly advantageous to have your physiotherapist, chiropractor, RMT and strength coaches actively communicating about your needs, in order to address the physical demands and stressors required by your sport.

If you have any questions regarding the Yard Athlete Development program, please contact [email protected].

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