Sport Science student Jane Barnett says being an intern on UCOL’s Racquet Sport Strength and Conditioning Programme has been the highlight of her studies.
"I have learnt so much," says Jane. The third year Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science (BESS) student says because the interns work so closely with their athletes, the programme involves much more than time in the gym. "It tests your communication and organisational skills, and you feel you are working in a professional environment and putting your knowledge to practical use."
Jane is one of nine BESS student interns who have been running the programme which brings four codes - badminton, tennis, squash and table tennis - together for intensive training for two sessions per week.
Under the supervision of UCOL Senior Lecturer Tim Seaholme and Lecturer Farzanah Desai, each intern is designated a sport, and they train those athletes for the year.
Jane was involved in the programme when it was first launched last year and says some of the athletes have returned. "They, and their coaches, have seen the benefit of the programme on their strength, agility, injury reduction and ultimately their performances."
The 21 participants were nominated by their local Associations and range in ages from 12 to 24 years old, they are all Manawatu or Central Region representatives and most are part of their sport's national squad, ranking inside the top 10 in their age group.
"We concentrate on conditioning and movement competency," says Tim. "The activities are designed to ensure the sportsperson uses the correct muscle groups efficiently to get maximum power.
"Of course there are both similarities and differences among the codes," he says. "Once good movement patterns are defined, programmes are customised to the respective sport and individual."
Tim says the programme is a perfect opportunity for elite youth athletes in related codes to train together, while giving his UCOL students valuable sports conditioning experience. "The athletes' personal ambitions become our motivation."
A keen sportswoman in her own right, 22 year old Jane already had a UCOL Certificate in Exercise & Sport Performance when she decided to enroll in the three year BESS degree.
She is eager to become a strength and conditioning coach to elite athletes when she graduates at the end of the year. "Thanks to being involved in the programme, I have experienced firsthand what my skills and knowledge can offer to athletes."
Enrolments are open now for the Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science - Level 7 starting February in Palmerston North.