IN the bone crunching game of Rugby League, arguably the most punishing full contact sport on the planet, competition is fierce from grass-roots level all the way up to the top of the pyramid, the mighty Super League.
Battles are won and lost on desire, determination, commitment, hunger and talent. At the elite level of the game the difference between success and failure is often measured by the smallest of margins. It can be just an extra one per cent of effort, during a game, which determines the victors from the vanquished.
But in recent year’s psychologists, and sports scientists alike, have begun to understand that to thrive and perform consistently, at the highest level, takes more than technical ability alone. Possessing the necessary skills to run, pass, tackle and score are obviously essential attributes. However, work outside the training ground is now considered to be increasingly important if teams are to succeed.
Individual players need to understand themselves, and the dynamics of the team, if they are to perform to their maximum potential.
And like any skill, the earlier a player learns the better. With this in mind the Saints have created a unique partnership with Brathay Trust, the national charity with the mission to improve the life chances of children and young people, to work with their Academy squad ahead of their tour to Australia this summer.
Brathay Trust’s world class facilitators are experts in performance development and their programmes develop the whole person. They will help young Saints players to explore the beliefs and motives that drive their will to win, and they will enhance their technical rugby skills, with structured personal development.
They are experienced in coaching and mentoring, at every stage of competition, with the aim of developing world-class players who are mentally prepared to perform at the highest level.
Although Brathay Trust’s overall aim is to contribute to the development of performance levels, one of their key objectives will be to develop emotionally mature, self-confident, young people who take control of their learning, development and ultimately, their lives.
Mark Bushell, from is particularly excited by the partnership.
He said: “The Academy squad will attend a residential, in late July, at our training centre on the shores of Lake Windermere, in Ambleside. Here they will experience a variety of physical and mental outdoor challenges, combined with personal support and coaching. This will ensure that the squad is fully prepared for their tour ‘Down Under'”.
Neil Kilshaw, Player Performance Manager at St Helens, added: “We are always looking for innovative ways to challenge our young players, both physically and mentally. Brathay Trust gives the squad a perfect setting to develop those all-important team skills necessary for a challenging tour to Australia, whilst enabling them to tackle some fears and adversity.
“The coaching team are very much looking forward to seeing those team dynamics tested and developed and we thank the Brathay Trust for their invaluable support of the clubs youth performance department.”
The residential will support the progression of each player and help them attain the levels required to succeed.