Regional Institute of Sport program at Trinity

Developing a teenage athlete
If you watch professional sport such as football, netball, basketball, track and field, soccer and hockey you may hear the comment, “They are such as great athlete.” This is o ften said after they have scored a goal, made a game saving defensive effort, allowed a team mate to execute a game plan well or simply outplayed an opponent. There is no commentary about the sport they play, just their athletic ability.

Why do teenage athletes develop their athletic ability?

Athletic qualities such as speed, strength, power, mobility, reaction time, endurance and agility can be developed and improved in teenage athletes. This extra support to their normal sport activities is needed because the traditional participation model that dominates junior Australian sport does not provide enough time or often expertise to enhance these qualities, and they have declined over the last few decades with diminishing rates of play throughout childhood. Teenage athletes often love their sport but are not equipped with the movement and athletic competency to improve, develop and excel in their own way. This leads to frustration, higher than expected drop out rates, injury and ultimately a failure to maximise performance. Even teenage athletes who excel in junior sport and in rare cases move to the elite level often engage in remedial athletic development training in their late teens to bridge the gap to adult competition.

This is why high school athletes, even those performing well, need guidance, structure and coaching no matter what their sport. The practical program of improving the athletic qualities outlined earlier needs to be combined within a program that is 'improvement' based culture, not a 'high performance' culture. Teen athletes are often simply not equipped physically and psychologically for such an environment.

Education regarding topics such as recovery, nutrition, warm-up, cool-down, student-sport-life balance all help to complete a holistic approach to their development. Education provided by university trained health and exercise science professionals who share evidence-based approaches specifically for the needs of teens.

How do you develop an array of athletic qualities in teens?

Research over several decades across a variety of health and exercise performance fields has looked closely at teenage athletic development. Examination of the athletic qualities needed for teens, time, education and practice needs to be applied to each parameter. Below is a discussion of three key parameters.

Speed development requires acceleration mechanics and solid sprinting mechanics. Teens need to learn how to move efficiently as it relates to sprinting and then how to move at high speed efficiently. This essential component of many sports is simply not developed in many athletes outside of track sprinters.

Agility requires a capacity to combine change of direction with decision making. Agility is an athletic skill that is complex and multifactorial. Research shows that developing speed and strength in teens improves agility. Progressively building skills to enhance agility requires drills to develop a multitude of qualities.

Strength development needs to consider rapid growth rates of adolescents mixed with reduced bodily awareness (proprioception). Despite many myths around strength training for teens, when provided by exercise professionals in a supervised environment it becomes a key component of performance development both in the short and long term and is very safe.

Education provides high school athletes with age-appropriate information regarding topics such as recovery, nutrition and hydration and can greatly reduce injury risk and enhance sporting performance.

Ultimately teens need a time, place and space to focus on their improvement away from club or representative sport. A place where all they need to do is concentrate on their execution of techniques in a culture of improvement free from expectations regarding their performance.  At RIS, we use an approach that has been developed and proven for over 20 years at one of the largest high school-based sporting academies in Australia. We employ techniques and training methods that have developed thousands of student athletes on pathways towards elite competition in sports such as AFL, netball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, tennis and golf.


The Sporting Excellence Program at Trinity is designed by highly qualified and experienced exercise and health professionals to develop, enhance and improve an array of athletic qualities in high school aged athletes. Qualities such as speed, agility strength, mobility, power and reaction time. Practical sessions include education on topics from the world of high-performance sport such as recovery, nutrition, hydration and mindset. The program is aimed at students from Years 7 to 12 who have the goal of being the best athlete they can be, in any sport, from club to representative level. The RIS works closely with many regional teenage athletes working towards (and in) elite pathways in a variety of sports and can accommodate program needs for these select students.

The RIS was established by Stuart Canavan with the key objective to provide world class athletic preparation and rehabilitation to regional athletes. Stuart is a former director of one of Australia's largest high school-based sports academies in Melbourne. With over 30 years of health and human performance experience, he holds a physiotherapy degree and a Masters in High Performance Sport combined post graduate qualifications in sports physiotherapy and pain science.  After settling in the Western District, he now makes this expertise and experience available to the region, working closely with his RIS Performance Coaches to deliver the Trinity College Sporting Excellence program.

Sessions are held directly after school on Wednesdays at the College oval and finish at 4:40pm. Bring a water bottle, hat and wear PE uniform. Sessions are subsidised by the College and are $10 each student.