Harker’s summer sports performance program has provided an excellent opportunity for summer students to improve their overall athleticism.
“What we’re doing is taking a very fundamental approach to sports performance. It doesn’t really matter what sport you play as long as it’s a ground-based sport,” said Ron Forbes, Harker’s director of sports performance, who heads up the six-week program. Students began by working balance, footwork, agility and other core aspects of ground-based sports. More advanced concepts such as plyometrics, which incorporate explosive movement, are introduced later. “So that no matter what sport you play, you’re going to be a better athlete at the end of the summer,” Forbes added.
Students will also work on resistive sprinting, which involves being tied to an object while sprinting. “It’s just enough resistance so that you can practice full-speed mechanics without actually going full speed,” Forbes said. “So it’s a safer way to do full speed mechanics, so you’re not worried about kids pulling hamstrings and that sort of thing.”
Another more advanced exercise is overspeed sprinting, comparable to running downhill. Forbes said these exercises teach students “the neuromuscular firing patterns to make their legs cycle faster, so it helps with speed development.”
The program also works on core strength exercises such as pushups and situps. Incoming Harker student Oisin Coveney, who will start grade 9 in the fall, found this part of the program to be his favorite. “You have to switch between each exercise very quickly without much of a break, and it’s actually more enjoyable because I know I’m getting better,” he said.
Coveney joined the program because he wanted to work on his speed and agility as a soccer player. “I’m not the fastest person on the field, and I’d like to step that up,” he said.
Forbes noted that many of the sports performance program’s students are in grades 6-8. To this he credits the program’s emphasis on developing overall athletes and not just preparing them for an upcoming season. “Most of these kids now, we’re not getting them ready for the season, we’re helping develop them into athletes at a younger age,” he said.
Other students, such as Naomi Molin, grade 9, simply enjoy the opportunity to get out and exercise in the summer weather: “It’s just a neat way to get out and do something active over the summer when it’s so easy to just stay inside and watch TV all day.”