Junior High Performance Academy
In its fourth year in 2011/2012, the Junior High Performance Academy is designed to provide essential guidance to a group of 20 or more talented year 9 physical education students from across County Durham.
These pupils may have the potential to be elite sports performers needing the support to develop their talent, or be seeking a career within the leisure and sport industry.
Even in the short term, they will discover how to lead physical education sessions in their final years at secondary school, a crucial component of their GCSE course.
The ultimate aim will be to develop pupils’ strengths to become more confident in pursuing their career paths, finally resulting in positive contributions to their chosen field. This will be done partly through raising their aspirations and therefore expectations by heightening their awareness of higher education and employment opportunities available to them. The course will also aim to improve their physical and mental performance and well being, through education in training methods to condition their bodies.
The course will cover prehabilitation and rehabilitation training methods, diet and nutrition, performance digital analysis through state of the art software, and development of mental capacity. As well as educating pupils on sports specific first aid, an awareness of the basic anatomy and physiology for sport will be taught. One of the sessions will take place at the University’s new sports science lab, and students will regularly train alongside Durham University elite performers.
Progress will be closely monitored through the requirement for students to complete a research project and a logbook throughout. There will be 11 members of staff tutoring, mentoring and managing the pupils, including three University High Performance Fitness Coaches. Mentors from Durham County Cricket Club, recently crowned national champions for the second time, will also be present, with one session also taking place at the County Ground. The course will run through six sessions, from October 2011 until June 2012, where the pupils will be awarded with certificates, awards and a DVD chronicling their time on the project.
The course is aimed at providied opportunities for a selected group of students, more able and talented in sport, from around the county.
One of our principle goals is to make them more effective independent learners.
One criticism from employers I have seen recently is that applicants are not developing the specific skills needed in their respective potential workplaces.
After a year in this programme, the pupils will have more skills to improve their career prospects - skills such as knowledge of physiotherapy, prevention of injuries, knowledge of the components of a healthy diet for example.
To have these assets will prove a great benefit to their pursuit of careers such as physical education teachers, sports coaches or professional athletes, to name a few paths they could take.
One of our pupils narrowly missed out on the Olympics in Beijing, and another is an international gymnast. We need to do everything we can to support them in the career path they wish to take. The aim is to raise standards and support their needs.Geoff Sheldon, Course Coordinator
Pupils learn the importance of nutrition toward their sporting pursuits
Pupils of the Junior Young High Performance Academy were this week learning how maintaining a healthy diet contributes to their progress in sport. Mr. Albert Potts, taking time out from his position at the School of Applied Social Sciences at Durham University, was happy to pass on his expertise on the importance of good nutrition. ‘Good nutritional practice is actually quite easy,’ he says, and he uses all his experience as a lecturer to present his information in a manner pupils find easy to grasp. ‘I use phrases you may not come across in textbooks,” he says. ‘Its all about making it understandable and accessible to your audience. There lies your success.’
Albert begins his presentation by asking students to state facts they know, or have recently been told, about nutrition in food. Upon hearing the suggestion of ‘Eat 5 pieces of fruit of vegetables a day’ he immediately asks the group whether they consciously count their portions to reach this target. Most of the group shakes their head. ‘We don’t often think about what we eat,’ says Albert, ‘and that’s why it is so important to change our behaviours.’ It is at opportunities such as this that this can be done, for there is not a specific sports science degree at the University, so when the Performance Team at Maiden Castle Sports Centre (Durham University’s home of sport) require expertise in sports science, they come to Albert.
The focus of this presentation is the consumption of foods for energy, as many of the pupils in the Academy are high achieving young sports-people, aiming to make it to the very top of their game. A good diet for a sports-person is high amounts of carbohydrate, and sufficient amounts of fat. But not certainly not too much of the latter. Emphasising the importance of food labels, Albert explains how, whilst they provide everything a consumer needs to know, they can be confusing. So what is needed to ensure the pupils can look at a food label and know whether it is nutritionally beneficial to them, or should be eaten in infrequently. Albert has a simple formula. It involves simply dividing the amount of calories in 100g of the food by 25, and keeping a note of this magic number. He then tells the pupils to take a look at the amount of fat in the same 100g. If this fat is more than the ‘magic number’ noted a second earlier, then the food has is high in fat. With this formula, he says, ‘you will be able to make that call very quickly.’
The presentation then takes the form of a discussion, and Albert hands out several food labels to the group, asking the pupils to pick out foodstuffs that they would normally eat everyday. This invites them to ask themselves whether they’d continue to eat these foods in such amounts. If it happens to be the case that these foods are high in fat, Albert suggests simple changes can make a big difference, fried crisps to baked crisps, for example. Albert is a supporter of current initiatives to change the nations eating habits. ‘Any intervention or initiative that gets people thinking has got to be a good thing. We need to make sure we keep giving children the information they may not know, so their decisions are well informed.’ The pupils depart the session armed with a new formula to test when they next visit the supermarket, and with information that can help them choose the foods that will help propel their sports careers even more.