Tuesday, 18 June 2013

PGDip Elite Coaching

Course Leader Bryan Jones with an overview of PGDip Elite Coaching at the University of Central Lancashire:

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Professor Collins teams up with Snow Sports NZ

Snow Sports NZ have brought in ICaP’s Professor Dave Collins to work with carded coaches in the area of skill acquisition.

Following the award of a Prime Minister’s Coach Scholarship to Snow Sports NZ, Professor Collins will work with the park and pipe coaches of their carded athletes teaching them about "the best steps we can put in place to increase skill acquisition and skill execution while minimising the risk of injury."

In turn, the carded coaches will pass that learning on to other coaches in the system working with development athletes.

A key goal is to speed up the process of learning so that medal capable athletes progress new tricks more quickly but also more safely, reducing the risk of injuries that can mean valuable time on the snow being lost.

Two main blocks of time have been set aside for skill progression in the year, in June/July and October. Professor Collins will spend two weeks with the coaches at a spring camp at Whistler, Canada and will travel to New Zealand for a second block of training in October.

The scholarship will have an impact on athletes’ preparation for the Winter Olympics at Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018. Following Swede Henrik Harlaut’s execution of a history-making Nose Butter Triple Cork 1620 at the 2013 X Games Big Air Finals, the bar has been set even higher for the rest of the world.

"The tricks are progressing. They’re getting bigger and more difficult," says Ashley Light, Performance Director of Snow Sports NZ’s high performance Winter Performance Programme.

"Until the judges reward execution of a skill and the style rather than amplitude and big tricks, there seems to be no ceiling on the height and speed at which the athletes can go - as the jumps just keep getting bigger with more features built on the slopes."

New Zealanders are already up there at the top in executing new tricks, including the up-and-coming Christy Prior, only the sixth female in the world to pull off a double back-flip with a snowboard strapped to her feet.

But for New Zealand athletes to stay among the leaders or keep up with the rapidly changing developments in the sport, they need to speed up the process for learning new tricks, Ashley says.

The progression in the sport is happening so fast, Ashley is sure there will be tricks performed at Sochi 2014 that aren’t being done right now and Professor Collins’ work will be a key component in this.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Exercise and the Effects on Cognition

Regular exercise and being active is beneficially to our well-being as a recent study has found. However, it is not just the body which benefits from exercise, but the mind too.

A unique study conducted by ICaP and colleagues from the University of Limerick found even small amounts of intense physical exercise can significantly improve the mental capabilities of children.

John Kiely, a Senior Lecturer in Elite Performance at the UCLan, worked with pupils and staff of Corpus Christi primary school in Moyross, Limerick, to see if exercise could benefit children academically.

Operating on a shoestring budget with the assistance of Limerick’s sport partnership, Mr Kiely, explained how the research was conducted.

"A child’s school performance is very hard to measure," he said. "There is a lot of research out there. People who exercise regularly tend to have better emotional control and cognitive ability than other people. However, physical activity is being eroded in schools as people say we need to get academic results. We said we would look at really short bouts of exercise that don’t interrupt the school day and see the results with brain training exercises."

Boys and girls from sixth class exercised on stationery bikes for five 20-second intervals, three times a week. After exercising, children went straight back to laptops for mental challenges.

"We used brain exercises that you do on a laptop," Mr Kiely said. "This software is devised by US based neuroscientists and they supplied it to us for free. The software is very specific to examining attention – how quickly you process information and your mental flexibility. After ten weeks all of the pupils showed large improvements. The most interesting part for the teachers was the pupils' ability to stay focused on tasks presented to them on the laptop."

Children diagnosed with attention deficits also scored highly on focus-based exercises. While the project is still in its infancy, Mr Kiely was delighted with initial results following the study.

"The children really bought into it and the teachers are reporting back that it certainly helps it terms of their concentration. We are still crunching the results but are encouraged by what we have seen to date and the feedback."

Teachers at Corpus Christi confirmed the study had enabled them "to work with the children at physical, mental and emotional levels" and there was a "direct link with children who were engaged physically to their academic achievements."