UniRec’s High Performance Sport Rehabilitation Consultant, Justin Stewart has done the rounds with footballers in the Waikato University Football Academy (WUFA).
The Academy is designed to give players who strive to play as professionals an opportunity to train within a full time, working environment whilst studying towards a degree at Waikato University. A unique aspect is that it provides athletes with the necessary tools to prepare for professional sport as well as life beyond sport.
Now in its second year, the Academy programme is coordinated by founder, former All White and ex-professional Che Bunce who has many years of experience both as a player and coach in NZ, Australasia and Europe.
Athletes accepted into the programme also take advantage of in-house expertise from UniRec’s resident High Performance Sport Rehabilitation Consultant, Justin Stewart who arranges sport specific testing twice a year, as well as an individualised training programme.
Recently, Justin met each of the 14 athletes selected by WUFA in 2014.
UniRec speaks to Justin who gives us an insight into the individualised training programmes which are developed for the specific needs of each athlete. Justin says they’re generally dominated by strength and conditioning to complement Academy training with gym time at UniRec.
What gets you excited about meeting and developing programmes for WUFA / HP athletes? It is great to be part of their journey. My goal is to equip them with the right training programme at the beginning of the year that will enhance their overall performance and assist them in becoming even more successful with their football.
How do you decide on what athletes need to improve on with the programmes you give them? Football Academy athletes generally have a good idea as to what their strengths and weaknesses are. I use the information they give me, along with the information I receive from testing data and I also take into consideration their university timetable and other football commitments.
Tell us about the testing that you do. Testing is done twice a year. At the beginning of A Semester and the beginning of B Semester. We assess their 5m, 10m and 20m sprint times, their vertical jump, the amount of sit ups and push-ups they can do in one minute and their cardiovascular fitness through the beep yoyo test.
Do the athletes have positive attitudes towards what you recommend that they do? Most understand that I am trying to help them be the best athlete they can be. From experience, I know the benefits strength and conditioning offer.
What improvements did you see with 2013 scholars as the year progressed? The ones who followed their programmes improved in all their testing results which include; speed, endurance and muscular strength.
UniRec is an accredited High Performance training facility, where carded athletes can come in anytime free of charge (as membership to accredited facilities is provided by HP Sport NZ).
Justin Stewart is a passionate and highly skilled High Performance and Rehabilitation Consultant. Justin graduated in 1999 with an Honours degree in Sport Science with a specialisation Biokinetics, the science of movement and the application of exercise in rehabilitative treatment or performance.
With more than 20 years’ experience in the sport industry Justin has provided services to High Performance Sport New Zealand, The University of Waikato Rugby Football Club, Star Varsity Cricket Club, Tennis New Zealand and the New Zealand Academy. Justin has developed and run the Healthy Back Course at UniRec.