Published on July 3, 2019
Strength and conditioning are crucial to the development of HVGS athletes, enhancing their fitness, stamina and recovery so they can gain a competitive edge and find success in sport long after they leave school.
Hunter Valley Grammar School employs a specialist Strength and Conditioning Coach, Dr Josh Secomb, to work intensively with our elite athletes and with students who just want to increase their physical activity.
“Strength and conditioning training is essential for all athletes to perform at their best,” Josh says. “The term ‘strength and conditioning’ can sometimes be limiting in its perception that it’s just about building muscle mass and aerobic fitness. A more accurate description is to view strength and conditioning as an athlete’s physical preparation for sport. It encompasses both the physical and physiological development of athletes.”
How are HVGS athletes prepared for sport and success?
Preparation for sport consists of three main training pillars to enhance athletic performance: technical preparation (developing the skills for the sport); tactical preparation (understanding how to correctly employ strategies to succeed); and physical preparation (preparing the body to cope with and supersede the physical demands of the sport). The HVGS strength and conditioning sessions focus on the physical preparation.
“We know that if an athlete isn’t undertaking any physical preparation, then they are missing a significant component of their overall athletic development,” Josh says.
“Strength and conditioning sessions help athletes with the physical skills to perform and improve their technical skills over time, which makes them better sportspeople.”
Countless research studies have identified significant relationships between the physical qualities and activities that are essential to performance. For example, the stronger an athlete is in a pull-up, the better their tackling performance is in rugby. “We look at the qualities athletes require to be successful in their sport, and we build a program to enhance those qualities,” Josh says. “However, every sport requires its athletes to be able to perform a broad range of athletic movements. We want each athlete to possess the ability to perform all athletic movements extremely well.”
Additionally, as athletes become increasingly stronger, more agile and faster, they increase their tolerance to training and decrease the risk of injury. “Naturally, if an athlete is constantly injured, the ability to develop the technical and tactical skills to succeed in their sport is reduced,” Josh says. “Many years of research have shown that to reduce injury risk, athletes must have highly developed athletic movement skills, strength, mobility, stability and energy systems. This is all enhanced through strength and conditioning sessions.”
What is the ultimate goal for HVGS athletes?
An education in physical preparation ensures that students are competent across all of the athletic movement skills that they will need for success. “My goal for HVGS athletes is to ensure that they have the physical skills and capabilities to progress along the pathway of their sport, and succeed in their sport for the long term,” Josh says.
Strength and conditioning sessions are not just for HVGS elite athletes. With about 30 per cent of Australian adolescents meeting their minimum physical activity requirements a day, it is essential that we aim to improve this for the overall health of students.
“Strength and conditioning increases students’ physical fitness and their skills, which builds their confidence to participate in a broader range of physical activities,” Josh says. “By regularly undertaking physical activity, both their physical and mental health can improve, which can aid in their academic performance too.”