Mark Bennett, the coach to the coaches of some of Britain’s top teams, is partnering the new Lydiard Park Sports Academy (LPSA) to develop the most advanced training programmes to be found in any school in the UK.
The former Army senior physical training instructor established his company Performance Development Systems (PDS) in 2003 to develop new methods which maximise performance in different sports by empowering individuals and teams to take responsibility for their training. As such he works mainly with sports managers to change the way they coach so that the athlete takes ownership for his or her performance.
As a result of work he did with England rugby coaches last Autumn which turned a loss against New Zealand into a record breaking win over Australia, Mark is currently working several days a week with the coaching team behind England’s bid for this year’s rugby world cup.
He also coaches at the National Golf Academy and is mentor for trainers at Village Hotel gyms across the country.
Greendown Community School plans to use its likely academy status to re-launch itself as Lydiard Park Academy from September 2012 when it will become independent of Swindon Borough Council.
Mark was put in touch by The Link with Greendown director of sports Christian Dobbs after the exclusive feature on PDS in the May Link.
Christian said, “I jumped at the opportunity to talk with Mark; the introduction came exactly at the right time as we are currently taking the school’s specialist sports status to the next level to tie in with academy status. Working with PDS offers us a hugely exciting opportunity to create the right environment to develop young talent who join the academy, children in Year 5 and 6 who are showing promise, and of course their parents who need guidance and advice on how to give their children the best chance to succeed in their sporting field.”
He said the PDS/Greendown programme will result in
• pupils who will be empowered, confident and have more self-belief and control, sustained by access to top trainers;
• PE staff trained in the PDS methods as more effective mentors and coaches;
• 1:1 meetings with top athletes;
• specially designed programme to replace PSHE for sports academy pupils to focus on nutrition, conditioning, training and rest;
• workshops for parents to help support their child with advice on nutrition and time-management.
Christian added that some two-thirds of pupils at Greendown are engaged in higher level sport and training, from age group related elite swimmers and ice-hockey players, to young people joining recreational cycling groups or training in gyms.
Mark said he thought the partnership could be the tip of an iceberg. “PDS is all about education, not the kind that teaches people information to simply to pass a test then forget, but the kind of education that enriches people’s lives, increases self esteem, motivation and develops a positive attitude towards health, fitness and performance.
“I’ve worked with a number of schools, but this will be the first formal, long term development project.
“I’m particularly keen to work with the academy coaches and also parents to help them work out good work-life arrangements for the young people. Some are already training five days a week, some twice a day, in addition to school work. It’s important that they have good nutrition, time-management and life-skills programmes in place to complement their training regimes so they can achieve their potential.
“It’s also important to recognise sport and academic studies go hand in hand and we’ve discussed working with teachers across the academy to apply the PDS method to engage all young people in taking responsibility for their lives.
“As we introduce academy sports staff to PDS, I would expect to see tangible results after a single term.”
Headteacher Clive Zimmerman said, “there are many very exciting changes going on at Greendown. Lydiard Park Sports Academy will be one of two initiatives for the school’s change in status, with the other being a second special academy programme for high achieving pupils.
“Enhancing sporting and academic achievement is going to have positive impacts on every pupil who comes to the academy.”
Pictured: Creating a new partnership, Mark Bennett of PDS, centre, with headteacher Clive Zimmerman, left, and Christian Dobbs