Strength and conditioning in schools

I read a piece by Matthew Syed, the former British table tennis player, on the Times website this morning. It was discussing the funding issues surrounding the winter Olympics and the fact that many more than the representative population of schooled athletes representing Team GB come from public school backgrounds. It stated that the sports at the Olympics, he sited rowing and sailing as primary examples, are elitist and that entry to the games is only open to the very wealthy.

While there is an issue surrounding the school system, funding and achieving parity across all schools, I would argue that the money needed to enter sports such as running, throwing, jumping, walking and, to a slightly lesser extent, cycling are minimal. The ability to move well will stand any child from any school in much greater stead for future sporting participation than the opportunity to compete in sailing would. That is why I think that time spent in PE classes has to be used in the most efficient way, similarly to the way I work, namely to get the greatest gains in the shortest possible time. Teaching/coaching pupils basic movement skills and why they’re important would be incredibly valuable to the individual, any future technical and s&c coaches they may have and the state in terms of future public health.

There are many arguments surrounding social divides, class and welfare as well as public health and lifestyle choices that effect where the pool of athletic talent comes from. At the very least though, the overwhelming majority of pupils do share certain things, namely they have legs, arms, a brain and the ability to develop motor skills, it is perhaps an improvement in coaching those skills that could successfully close that Olympian divide.

Neil Welch

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