Sport plays a huge part in life at AKS Lytham and ‘sport for all’ underpins our provision supporting a wide range of sporting opportunities and encouraging all pupils to enjoy sporting participation, excellence and success. It is also becoming synonymous with excellence within sport as AKS boasts 12 national representatives in 12 different sports and a new initiative specifically aims to help our talented pupils achieve the highest levels of performance in their sport.
The AKS Elite Performance Pathway (EPP) is a programme designed to support AKS pupils performing at a regional or national level within their chosen discipline, and sees the AKS PE and Sports department linking with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) to provide an additional specialist training experience for our talented pupils. Three final year UCLAN students from their specialist strength and conditioning degree course came into AKS to work with those EPP students as well as our hockey and rugby squads.
Since January the students, all of whom are studying for a degree in Strength and Conditioning visited the school each Thursday, to work with a range of AKS students, including those students involved in the EPP program. During the afternoon the students used their expertise to lead three sessions one with our EPP students, one with our Yr. 10 sports teams and one with our senior sports teams. The UCLAN students started each session with specific warm-up exercises, offered a wide range of training methods to improve strength and power, and also gave rehabilitation advice.
The sessions were run predominantly in the schools fully equipped fitness suite and were designed to improve each student’s fitness and conditioning which in turn would help improve their performances within their respective sports. The U15 Hockey squad particularly enjoyed their 30 minute session at the start of each games session where the focus was on improving their speed off the mark and acceleration, two qualities which definitely helped improve their performance on the pitch.
As well as this improvement in performance, the sessions were also designed to improve the students' knowledge and understanding of key concepts within sports performance and training techniques so that they will be able to apply this knowledge to their own training in the months ahead.
As this academic year comes to a close the UCLAN students will sadly be moving on as they complete their degrees but AKS are keen to maintain the arrangement that will see a further three of their students provide these sessions next year as the AKS pupils have gained so much from them over the past 5 months.
AKS Director of Sport, Mark Walmsley said “The idea of this partnership came about when we were planning our new Elite Performance Pathway programme and discussing the best ways we can support our students as they compete on a regional and National level. UCLAN have a need to create opportunities for their students to apply their knowledge in real working environments. We are wanted to provide our pupils with specialist knowledge and expertise from people who were at the forefront of new ideas, strategies and concepts in the world of sports performance and so the relationship was created.
From our perspective the program was a huge success enjoyed by both our pupils and the UCLAN students alike. The three UCLAN students that we have had the opportunity to work with over the past 5 months have brought a huge amount of benefit to our pupils and for this I would like to thank them. I also wish them the very best of look as they complete their degrees and take their next steps in their chosen careers. It is disappointing to lose these students as they have been fantastic to work with, but I am excited to bring in further students next year as this program and partnership grows.”