The objective of the Performance Department is to prepare the junior athlete to successfully compete within the senior competitive arena. It is increasingly important that players arrive into the full-time ranks of the Senior Academy ready to compete with the older players within the squad at Franklin's Gardens both mentally and physically.
To achieve this, a model of long-term athlete development (LTAD) must be utilised. With the use of correct assessment methods players can then be appropriately grouped based on biological development and individual growth as opposed to chronological age. This requires collaboration between technical coaches, sports medicine, sports science and athletic development support systems.
A joined-up approach must be athlete centred with their specific individual needs highlighted and developed in a systematic way. The focus needs to be on the process of long term athlete development, the outcome will then take care of itself.
In order to give the youngsters the best possible chance of becoming a Saints player, the following steps are in place:
FUNDAMENTALS (6-10yrs; 100% training ratio)
STEP ONE A Corner Stone of Physical Competence (10-15yrs; 75%/25% training to competition ratio)
STEP TWO Consolidation (15-17yrs; 50%/50% training to competition ratio)
STEP THREE Bridging the Gap to the Full-Time Athlete (17yrs+; 25%/75% training to competition ratio)
Once a player advances into the Saints Academy set-up a number of support systems are put in place, including physiotherapy programmes and strength and conditioning regimes.
PHYSIOTHERAPY From an EPDG level, physiotherapy and advice is provided to youngsters within the Academy system by a dedicated team of experts at the club. Help includes not only physiotherapy itself, but also injury management advice, player screening, rehabilitation programmes, weekly injury clinics and various activities to help with physical development, including Pilates, osteopathy and podiatry.
STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING Strength and condition covers many areas of a players development, from the way they prepare for a match, to the time they spend resting after and everything in between. The Saints' strength and conditioning team ensure that all players have a well-managed workload to avoid unnecessary injuries or exhaustion. As the age of a player increases, a progressive plan is tailored and put into place to ensure that each individual is physically ready for the rigours of a career in professional rugby. Everything from nutrition and supplements to the way a player runs is monitored and adjusted where necessary.