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Shortly before the half term break, a group of students had the privilege to visit Bisham Abbey, one of Sport England’s National Centres and home of England hockey, England football and England rugby training. 

The visit included a tour as well as workshops and seminars specifically focused on psychology in sport and performance excellence. Below is an account by our sixth formers.

The day started off with a tour of the incredible gym facilities at the centre and a talk from one of the strength and conditioning coaches from England hockey. This allowed us to apply physiology theory that we had previously learned in the classroom. We saw some technology including force plates and a sprint track with specific modifications to test speed, cadence and efficiency.

We were amazed by the standard and the technology of the gym; it is equipped with the only specialised prototype hip extensor in the world and has the only isometric leg extension kit in the country!  Having the chance to test ourselves on the sprint track and to use the high-tech resistance pulley for training your drag flick movement showed us what it takes to become a world-class athlete. We could not imagine training up to three times a day in there at the intensity the athletes were showing, including the GB women’s rowing team and kayakers. Witnessing some of the England hockey senior mens’ team train in the gym was a surreal moment…

After lunch, we were given special permission to watch the U21 hockey men’s team in training, and we were so impressed by the level of intensity in the session, something we will definitely take on board for our own training. Their standard and attitude was incredible and we were really lucky to be able to see it first hand on the pitch with them. We then had the chance to have a talk with the senior men’s nutritionist who explained how detailed each athlete’s diet is and how it varies from person to person.

A seminar from Katie Warriner, a leading sports psychologist, explained to us how important an athlete’s mind set is going into training and competition, and with it being Embley wellbeing week back at school, it was insightful to see how much time the National teams spend on improving their wellbeing with the help of Katie, at all levels of performance. Mental attitude, the drive to win and core values all have a strong role to play in elite sport, but also the support that is provided for each athlete at each stage of their careers was insightful to learn about.

A huge thank you from all of us to our teachers Miss Boutcher-West and Mr Lawson for this incredible experience. It was an amazing and unique opportunity to extend our knowledge of physiological and psychological aspects of sport outside of the classroom. We can’t wait to go back!

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