A group of students in the gym, one female student in the centre is lifting a weight

Niall MacSweeney speaks on SciDance podcast

One of our strength and conditioning coaches, Niall MacSweeney, recently spoke on the SciDance podcast, available to listen to from today. SciDance is an evidence-based podcast hosted by Jasmine Cook, covering dance science discussions and the latest research with global industry leaders. Niall discussed with Jasmine the process of implementing strength and conditioning at White Lodge.

The strength and conditioning programme

Niall has been at the School for five years now and he spoke about how the strength and conditioning programme has changed during his time here:

I’ve been full time for a couple of years now and it has been much more integrated into the School… the students consider it as part of their training. I’d say it’s a relatively normal thing; different year groups have different sessions… most of them will have an idea of how to do strength and conditioning and I would say it’s much more part of the School now from when I started.

A relaxed environment

He also talked about the kind of atmosphere that he tries to create within his classes:

What I wanted was for strength and conditioning to be a more relaxing environment… my experience is the things that you enjoy as a child, you keep that feeling even if it gets more serious when you’re older… I wanted it to be more of a mental release because it’s a hugely high-pressure environment.

Making progress

As students progress through the School, their strength and conditioning training develops. Niall spoke about what different year groups do within their classes.

Starting out in Year 7 is done primarily through games… it’s really important they enjoy it… As you progress up the school it becomes a bit more formalised…we spend more time on body weight exercises and things like that with Year 8s whereas we used to spend more time on this with Year 9s… because they’re doing so well now we’ve started moving them straight on to squats and back squats… that’s the way it progresses.

The benefits

Niall discussed the benefits that strength and conditioning can have for our students and how it can improve their performance both mentally and physically:

It makes you more confident, if you can squat over your own body weight or jump to a certain height… there is some confidence in that which hopefully would translate to dance where they feel like they can take on a more advanced step… they know they have the physical competency to do that… I’ve had some good feedback from balletic staff and I think that side of things does help.

Being physically strong is quite nice and encouraging in what people can do with their bodies and the amazing talent they have. Strength and conditioning gives you a good platform to help with that which is beneficial.

The podcast is available to listen to on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube and Anchor