The Elite Performance Pathway is a long term athlete development (LTAD) programme at St. Peter’s R.C. High School, Gloucester for young athletes from Key Stage 3 (11 years old) to the end of Key Stage 5 (18 years old) that runs alongside the normal curricular and extra-curricular sports activities. It is an athletic development programme that is focused on improving health, all aspects of physical fitness and reducing the risk of injuries.
There are five tiers to the programme:
Entry to the programme is through selection based on sporting ability as well as attitude, commitment and teamwork in Physical Education lessons and extra-curricular sport. Automatic entry is given to those pupils that gain admission to the school through the Sporting Aptitude programme that successfully complete the talent identification process during year 6.
The athletes complete weekly sessions educating them in how to train safely & effectively for their sport, developing components of their fitness in order for them to be able to excel within their chosen sports & tolerate the demands of training at a junior elite level for their sport.
The World Health Organisation now recognises physical inactivity as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality for diseases that cannot be passed from person to person (e.g. cardiovascular diseases), and supports participation in a variety of physical activities including those that strengthen muscle and bone. (14)
Not only is physical activity essential for normal growth and development, but also youth programmes, such as the Elite Performance Pathway, that enhance fundamental movement skill performance early in life appear to build the foundation for an active lifestyle later in life.(4, 9)
The UKSCA Youth Training position statement (15) and current research show that resistance training, a core component of the EPP, can bring about significant performance improvements in muscular strength, power, speed, agility in young people (1, 2, 3, 6, 8)
From a health perspective, the evidence shows that resistance training can also result in improved body composition, reduced trunk and abdominal fat, improve insulin sensitivity & cardiac function in obese children.
In terms of injury prevention, it has been suggested that resistance training can enhance bone density (5) and reduce the sports-related injury risk in young athletes (11, 13). Additionally, muscular fitness and resistance training have been associated with positive psychological health and well-being in children & adolescents (7, 10, 12).
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