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1st June 2023

Strength and Conditioning at Oakham School

Oakham School is a pioneer of school-based Strength and Conditioning (S&C), being one of the first schools in the country to hire a full-time coach more than 15 years ago.

This has paid dividends, with the school producing an impressive number of professional athletes. However, Performance Sport is only one aspect of an S&C programme – it is also about developing physically literate young people.

S&C Coach with pupils

Tom West, S&C coach at Oakham School shares his knowledge and expertise to explain more about the importance of S&C at Oakham…

Our goal is to give Oakham pupils the tools to take control of their physical development, educate on healthy athletic development habits, and ensure they are prepared to take the next step on their journey – whether that’s competitive sport at university or training in the gym.


Why do S&C?

Youth physical development research cites two main components that are crucial to develop athleticism and physical literacy.

Movement – This is our primary focus when students join the programme, and remains a priority throughout. They learn to move well and master the technique of key movement patterns (e.g. squatting, hip hinging, upper body pushing and pulling) in the gym, before moving to the sports field. Over time, this helps to sustainably increase strength and power, speed, and muscle gain.

Strength – Building strength is the most effective way to improve physical development and long-term health in young people. Strength is the key determinant of success in performing fundamental movements – when you are stronger, you can run, jump and throw faster and further. It also gives youth athletes the robustness to tolerate the demands of playing sport (distance run, sprinting, jumping, changing direction, contact etc.), and mitigates the risk of injury.

Strength and movement competency work in tandem, with those who move well generally being stronger – and vice versa.

It’s all fun and games!

As important as achieving physical goals and learning about healthy athletic habits is that all students enjoy their training with us and have a positive experience in their S&C sessions.

Our top priority is that the gym is a fun and comfortable place for everyone to be in. Movement is fun, sport is fun, and we’re looking to build an environment where students want to keep coming back!

Get involved!

Students can attend at least two weekly gym sessions from Middle School onwards to develop these fundamentals. We also try to get outside during their sport training as much as possible to put these movements into the context of their sport.

For our Lower School pupils, we introduce S&C principles during their games warm-ups, making sure things are fun and competitive – but still with purpose.

As pupils move through the school, we make this more specific to each individual sport with an increased emphasis on educating around healthy training and performance habits, including sleep, recovery, nutrition, and quantity of training.

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