5 years ago I started working with schools in Gloucestershire to build Gifted and Talented S&C programmes, bringing what I’d learnt through the UKSCA to everyday school children. In total, working with Ed Archer at the Athlete Academy, we established 7 such programmes in the area (some which are still running now) but the experience at times was frustrating as schools/parents weren’t able to sustain the level of funding to keep the programmes running. It made me realise there was a phenomenal opportunity to develop athletes that lay in the hands of the PE teachers, given the time they get with the kids and that they have a captive audience that is not dependent on funding to keep going.
However, then & even now the focus of most PE teachers is predominantly the development of sport specific skills. Yes they do some fitness work but not with the kind of systematic approach required to produce high level athletes time and time again. In many cases (but not all) it’s delivered as Health & Fitness Unit of Work (6-8 weeks) that covers using a fitness suite and some circuit training.
Having worked as an external coach for years, last year I landed myself in a teacher training position and qualified as a PE teacher earlier this year. Now fully employed as a teacher and S&C coach I understand the challenges faced by schools when trying to incorporate a long term development programme, but also understand how we can get S&C into the school system and the fantastic outcomes you can see for young athletes. (See our results so far in these articles – EPP 12 months on , EPP Speed Training)
PE teachers face a number of challenges in implementing a long term athlete development programme:
Time – having the time to plan, design and implement a system that is age appropriate around the workload of planning core PE lessons and teaching exam subjects, as well as all the fixtures in the extra-curricular programme is not easy!
Knowledge & skills – many teachers are fantastic teachers / coaches of different sports but lack the in depth knowledge & specific skills to develop high levels of strength, power, speed and agility that are crucial to success at the highest level in a way that is age appropriate.
Funding – paying an external coach to deliver a high level programme will be outside of the budget of most comprehensives/grammar schools, which pushes it on the parents & pupils and then your programme is as Long Term as they are prepared to pay for it.
Support – You need the support of the school, your head of department, your colleagues for a system to be built and sustained.
Facilities – Not every school is blessed with a fully kitted out S&C suite, but that doesn’t matter lifting weights is only one method of training, and there are plenty of things you can do with just some open space, some athletes and your imagination.
Just because these obstacles are there it doesn’t mean, it can’t be achieved!
The #SandCinSchools project is aimed at providing teachers and coaches with online training resources they can refer to and apply within their school exposing more children in the UK to the benefits of strength and conditioning and a systematic long term approach to athlete development.
We have assembled a team of qualified S&C coaches from around the UK to generate videos, articles and resources that will be published through the Proformance Strength & Conditioning website that you will be able to access. You will get to see the methods we are already using with young athletes in a school environment on our Elite Performance Pathway programmes.
We will be covering a range of topics including how to integrate S&C into PE lessons when time & facilities are limited and maximising the effect of training through integrated training systems. How to monitor growth and maturation status, as well as looking at specific exercises to enhance flexibility, strength, speed, agility, co-ordination and power.
Our team of coaches are also available to book to deliver INSET & CPD workshops at your school if you want a programme tailored to your needs. In addition, we also have CPD workshops running in 2015 that will provide you with plenty of information to kick start your school in setting up a Long Term Athlete Development programme.
Look out for the #SandCinSchools hashtags, here are some video resources to get you started: