Our strength and conditioning (S & C) programme, led by UKSCA accredited coach Gary Pepperell, is an intrinsic part of our coaching philosophy and is exemplary in both content and innovativeness. S & C is a branch of sports science that aims to improve athletic development and reduce injury risk, therefore improving sports performance. The primary goal of the S & C team is ensuring that the athlete spends as long as possible training and competing in their sport. This is achieved by creating a robust athlete by developing all components of fitness including strength, power, speed, mobility and endurance.
S & C is more than simply lifting weights, as it aims to develop global strength and improve performance. We use a range of training methods such as Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, speed, agility and trunk strength training to achieve these goals. Our S & C team delivers sessions tailored to the needs analysis of the sport and the athlete.
The S & C provision at Plymouth College employs a movement first approach to programming. A movement screen is carried out prior to any athletes first session and this dictates the level of program they carry out. The entry level programme will aim to develop fundamental movement patterns such as the squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, rotation, bracing and locomotion. A more advanced program utilises more varied methods of training to simulate an adaptation to training. These methods include contrast training, weightlifting, advanced plyometrics and instability training.
The modern, open-planned and well-equipped S & C gym is the main site of the athletes training. However, sessions often take place in the sports hall or the astro turf when developing speed and agility. Every term the athletes will complete our athletic testing profile. This tests the above-mentioned physical qualities of the athletes and helps the team to identify strengths and areas for improvement in their athletic development. Involved in this testing profile is jump analysis, using our jump mat, maximal strength tests, upper body power tests (medicine ball throw) and tolerance tests that are used to determine the endurance capabilities of specific muscle sites.
Our programme is one of the few in the country that can boast a comprehensive day-to-day sports science support package for the athletes in our care.
With a fully qualified medical team on-site in our Health Centre (plus, exemplary and formalised links with physiotherapist, Alison Morton), ensures pupils are cared for via the College’s highly recommended Health Insurance scheme. The medical team regularly communicate with the full coaching team to notify of any injuries/illness to an athlete. Our multifaceted team will then discuss how to manage the condition by reducing the training load or varying the style of training.
If an athlete is unable to perform their pool-based sessions for a period of time, then the strength and conditioning team will amend training in the cardiovascular suite or S&C gym to maintain performance levels. The communication between all sports science, coaching, teaching and boarding staff is exemplary and is key to the understanding and development of our athletes at Plymouth College.
Access to a registered, experienced sports psychologist is available to all athletes within our school community, either as part of a block of group sessions or on a one to one basis. These sessions are designed to help with managing stress, setting goals and other important psychological concepts.