The strength and conditioning (S&C) team at the NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) is at the beginning of a comprehensive, two-year structured learning program in strength science.
“By the end of the 2024 Olympic cycle, the NSWIS S&C team will have greatly enhanced their strength science expertise,” NSWIS Head of S&C Simon Harries said.
A university graduate in physical education with more than 15 years experience in S&C roles at national sport organisations including Rugby Australia, the Newcastle Knights and the GWS Giants, Along with Senior Strength & Conditioning coaches, Dave Young and Nathan Spencer, Simon has developed the Strength Science Learning Journey for his staff.
“This is not any superficial personal development course, but rather a comprehensive unit of work comprised of 14 education sessions with curriculum expectations,” Simon said.
“This is rigorous, structured personal development with expectations of pre and post work following each of the sessions, some might say equivalent to multiple units from a postgraduate degree.”
A collation of literature, podcasts and conference readings is provided to staff prior to the session with the expectation at least three resources are reviewed. Further, two staff review the available academic and professional works in the area and summarise their learnings back to the wider team.
“This topic review process is great. The entire S&C department fast track their knowledge in the area and benefit from the work completed by individuals.
“We invite world leading practitioners to these education sessions. They share their expertise, ideas, and learnings and discussion on application to our NSWIS environment.”
One week after each education session, workshops take place, where discussion and debate about the content occurs.
“This is unique and world class learning, with a long term vision. It delves deeply into a two-year curriculum.”
The Strength Science Learning Journey was designed after Simon identified the positive impact further developing this area of expertise will ultimately have on NSWIS’ S&C staff ability to support athletes in their journey towards representing Australia.
The Head of S&C works closely with his staff to assess their knowledge, application and contribution across 20 core S&C topics.
“Through in-depth analysis and a self-reflection piece we identify the WOWs or rather ‘work ons and weapons’.
“I ask my staff to set professional goals and work towards developing themselves into the practitioner they aspire to be in the future.”
The program is comprised of 14 bimonthly education sessions which will be delivered between now and December 2024.
There are already plans to expand the programs reach with education session invitations distributed to strength and conditioning specialists at the regional academies of sport, the Sydney Swans and the Waratahs.
The first session of the Strength Science Learning Journey took place at NSWIS on Tuesday 18 October 2022 and featured the National Technical Lead for Swimming Australia, Scott Pollock presenting on Sport Profiling – Cultivating Context to Enhance Decision Making and the Head of National Talent Identification for Olympic Sports and Senior S&C Coach at the Aspire Academy in Qatar presenting on What Is Potential? Interpreting Performance in Youth Track & Field.