Sports Excellence Programme

There are many talented athletes at St Lawrence College and it is our job to recognise and nurture these talents. The Sports Excellence Programme is designed to further progress the best athletes in the College from Year 9 upwards in their respective sports to county, regional and national success.

The Junior Development Programme is designed to allow pupils in Years 7 and 8 to practise and improve their skill set across the entire year, not just for one term. Those invited to the programme have over 20 more hours of extra coaching. Those pupils who excel within the Junior Development Programme will be invited to the Academies which are a stepping-stone to the Sports Excellence Programme.

Through practical and theory sessions, our athletes are pushed physically and mentally by current and past International performers.

The Sports Excellence Programme provides a structured training and development route across a number of sports for talented young athletes (aged 12-18 years) who have a real chance of excelling in their sport.

The programme reflects the broad range of skills, knowledge and performance required by elite level sports people. It is designed to measure the athlete’s ability to plan, apply and evaluate their development in the technical, tactical, physical and psychological aspects of their sport.
It also addresses wider issues such as lifestyle, career development, time management, and nutrition guidance.

"Rarely do you see such a well-structured and professional programme in schools. Seth and his team have created a hard-working yet enjoyable environment which pushes the athletes in all aspects of their game across many sports. The school's sporting success is a testimony to their continuous efforts. The future looks very bright for St Lawrence College."
Simon Willis (Sri Lanka High Performance Manager)

Physical Training

Having past and present International athletes on our coaching staff means a high intensity and focus is continuously produced throughout our physical training sessions. New and up to date coaching styles and techniques are practiced where the performers are pushed both physically and mentally. Being able to receive feedback through the eyes of an International athlete hugely benefits all of our Sports Excellence performers and improvements are made from the very first session.

Within each sport, core skills are rigorously refined as well as game related play and situational problem solving drills, when combined we believe produces a higher calibre of athlete. At St Lawrence College we pride ourselves on our strength and conditioning programmes where using state of the art equipment and fitness rooms every athlete works on their sport specific somatotype. Several target areas are muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness and all round body composition. When linking our training methods with our nutrition guidance, all athletes are educated and begin to understand the demands of sport on their body as they grow in age.

Success has been seen through our tested methods. Our SLC Cricket Academy, SLC Hockey Academy and SLC Netball Academy regularly produces as well as attracts County performers of all ages. By nurturing their talent we are able to guide them to the next stages of their development and one day hopefully become an international athlete.

Psychology

Athletes and coaches always think they must only practice longer and harder - they are reluctant to include psychological tools in their training and performance regime.

To be a better athlete does not necessarily mean that you must train harder or longer. It could mean that you need to address all the components that make up a successful athletic performance - mental as well as physical. Since you do not enter into competition with a completely empty head, you must include mental skills in your training and conditioning programmes as well. This will enable you to develop the strategies which will prepare you to enter a competition with the “proper mind set”.

At SLC we believe genuine skill is only tested when put under pressure. To overcome increasing pressures that sport can bring we focus on the mental approach to sport. Through group and one-to-one sessions, each athlete puts together clear targets and goals for every stage of his/her development. What they want to achieve from each training session all the way to being selected internationally for their sport in future years to come. We concentrate on various anxiety techniques and recreate the pressure that international performers experience.

We hold theory classes where all of the Sports Excellence performers are brought together and discuss pressing matters such as media pressure, managing expectations, in-play problem saving, coping with success as well as failure and many more.

Technical Support

To create the best performers we not only require first class coaches but also top class facilities and advanced equipment. Every athlete receives state of the art technical support such as video analysis, sport specific equipment and player feedback data, all of which enables the performers to take one step closer to achieving their set targets.

Within the Sports Excellence Programme we look at two areas of exploration, Performance Analysis, where we look at the combination of biomechanical and notational analysis techniques to study how movements relate to sport performance and Notational Analysis where we are primarily concerned with strategy and tactics of professional sport. Our coaches continuously refine athlete techniques along with the support of technical ergogenic aids.

Nutrition Guidance

It is crucial to make sure you get the right amount of water before, during and after exercising. Water regulates your body temperature, lubricates joints and helps transport nutrients for energy and health. If you’re not properly hydrated, your body will be unable to perform at its highest level. Hydration is essential to peak athletic performance. When you do not consume enough liquid to stay properly hydrated, it can create a considerable effect on performance levels. Insufficient hydration fatigues your muscles, reduces your coordination and causes muscle cramps.

During our one-on-one training sessions the athlete regularly trains at a high intensity for more than an hour, therefore most chose a sports drink. The calories, potassium and other nutrients in sports drinks can help provide energy and electrolytes to help the performer for a longer period of time. A healthy diet is almost crucial to maximising performance.

Different sports require different intakes of protein, carbohydrates and fats, as well as mineral, vitamins and fibre. During the Sports Excellence Programme we examine what type of food groups the athlete should be eating and provide a programme to guide the athlete into eating healthily and appropriately. An example of this would be the more muscular explosive the sport, the more protein the athlete will require to repair muscles for his next training session.

Time Management

The life of an athlete can be very demanding, particularly when it comes to juggling sport with education. We appreciate that the higher the athlete performs the more demanding the sport becomes. At SLC we want to make sure that the athlete can continue to progress in education but also strives to succeed in their sport. Throughout the Sports Excellence Programme we follow time management tools which are designed to assist athletes in effectively balancing all aspects of their life in order to get the most out of each day.

If you were to ask an athlete, do they:

  • Often find themselves running late
  • Feel stressed trying to get everything done in a day
  • Have trouble finishing school prep on time
  • Not use a planner to schedule daily life

Many would answer yes to at least one of these.

You only need to look at the number of commitments an athlete needs to manage to see how difficult it is to balance everything, preventing priority tasks from sliding and additional pressures sneaking in. We look at seven key areas which help the athlete manage their time effectively, these are:

  • Preparation
  • Schedule
  • Prioritising
  • Deadlines
  • Breaks
  • Routines
  • Precision

We endeavour to work closely with parents and Boarding House Masters to ensure that the Sports Excellence Programme does not impede on the athletes academic progress.

Medical Support

Medical support is particularly important to performance and could be crucial to achieving personal targets. At St Lawrence College we take medical support seriously and it is available at short notice. It is crucial for athletes in terms of getting back to the sport as quickly as possible as usually injuries get worse if they are left. We have links with local sport physiotherapists who are easily contactable and aid in maintaining our athletes physical fitness. We are fortunate enough to have former London Irish rugby player Pete McAlister as part of our Sports Excellence Programme who accesses and maintains the athletes’ strength and conditioning.

Within the strength and conditioning programme we aim to develop the physical capability of our athletes. We work alongside the athlete to enhance the strength and conditioning programme that targets the physical needs of the individual. This typically involves gym based training designed to improve total body power, as well as conditioning training designed to enhance cardiovascular performance, running acceleration, speed, change of direction and mental toughness.

The school’s Medical Centre is open 24 hours a day during term time for routine and emergency treatment for all Sports Excellence athletes. Fully qualified nursing staff are on duty at all times and play a crucial role throughout the sporting calendar. The Medical Centre also provides nursing facilities for Boarding Sports Excellence athletes who are ill and under the care of the School Doctor. The School Doctor calls twice a week – more often if necessary.

Career Options

Our Career Options programme is based on helping athletes develop the skills to reach their full potential. It is important for our athletes to focus on their education and we recognise the benefits of athletes focusing on both sporting and non-sporting activities and goals. We are also fully aware that our pupils need career goals for 'plan B’ or ‘life after sport’ as well as exploring coaching and officiating certificates while at school.

As part of our Sports Excellence Programme we encourage athletes to achieve sport and life goals through integrating learning, work and sports performance. This approach creates more confident, independent, well-rounded athletes who are better able to make decisions, adapt, focus and successfully pursue their goals.

To become a professional sportsman it takes years of dedication and a real hunger for the sport. At St Lawrence College we encourage such disciplines inside and outside of the classroom. We break down barriers which professional athletes face day to day. We examine how elite performers conduct themselves and avoid ‘media blunders’ as well as look at what key figures/role models there are in sport and conflicting examples.

Supporting athletes to pursue education, training and employment is important. Since the program started we have been successful in making education and career planning possible, and making the transition to life after sport smoother. Private Schools make up a total of 8% of all available schools in the UK. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics over 50% of the British medal winners had a private education so it can be said that it is no coincidence that many parents want their talented child to attend a private sector school.

So what if my son/daughter does not become a professional?
Throughout the Career Options we look further into what career could be pursued and what would suit the individual athlete. From becoming a PE teacher, Army Soldier, Coach, Sports Physiotherapist and many more we are confident that if your child does not become a professional sportsman, then they will be guided into a suitable profession. Mr Kwan Browne who has achieved over 280 international games for Trinidad and Tobago as well as being regarded at one of the best indoor hockey players the world has seen is part of the coaching team at St Lawrence College. At the 2014 Hockey World Cup, Kwan was the Sky Sports Analysis live on television and will be able to give firsthand experience on achieving in a career off the pitch as well as on. See Kwan in action here. Kwan will also be lead analyst for the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Sporting Pathways

Athletes need to know what level they are performing at and how to get to the next level. How can County performers gain recognition and achieve International success? Throughout our Sports Excellence Programme our team of coaches have the knowhow to take our athletes to the next level. We focus on two clear pathways which are:

  • SCHOOL – CLUB – COUNTY – INTERNATIONAL
  • JUNIOR CLUB – SENIOR CLUB - INTERNATIONAL

The first pathway is aimed at athletes in the Sports Excellence Programme that we can facilitate their chosen sport, for instance rugby, hockey, cricket, netball and many more. We can push our athletes as we have the coaching, facilities, time and resources and have many links with sports clubs which we encourage them to join. We would inform athletes with the clubs schedules for training and fixture and solve transport issues in required. Having joined a club the athlete would naturally progress through playing with and against club players and have the options of playing for their age group or men's/women’s teams. Through the club links we push them to represent Kent and hopefully one day to International glory.

The second pathway is aimed at sports which we may not be able to cater for. An example of this could be sailing, where we do not have the facilities or qualified coaches to take the athlete to International success, however this should not prevent the athlete from joining St Lawrence College. Through joining a junior club the athlete would progress through their ranks and into their senior club. We would monitor their development and work alongside the clubs coaches to make sure the targets and goals which have been set are being achieved. Working together we hope to develop the athlete enough to possibly one day representing their country.