Millfield experts share tips on using ‘pressure’ as part of the development of young pupils at termly Education in Sport series

A panel of Millfield experts explored how pressure can be used to develop successful learning at the latest Education in Sport series at Millfield’s Johnson Hall.

‘Being Brilliant: how do you use pressure to be the best you can be?’ was chaired by Millfield’s Director of Sport, Dr Scott Drawer, and featured Millfield’s Director of Netball Jenna Adamson, Cricket Coach Dan Helesfay, Director of Athletics Alan Richardson, Head of Dance Rhian Fox and Deputy Head (Academic) Alexandra Haydon.

In front of an audience of parents, teachers, coaches and pupils, the panel discussed what creates pressure for students and athletes, and how teachers and coaches can use these scenarios with their students to prepare for the environments they will engage in.

Head of Dance Rhian Fox explained that especially in dance, there is a specific pressure to perform. The physical effects of stress are a particular challenge for dancers, and Rhian explained that she helps to combat this with her students by repeatedly preparing the body for those stresses early on and relying on muscle memory to ensure success in the routine when it comes to the performance.

Director of Athletics Alan Richardson explained some of the methods he uses to add pressure to his athletes during training to help prepare them for competitions, including mini-competitions and analysing and reviewing technical skills repeatedly, much like preparing for an exam in a classroom environment.

Dan Helesfay from Millfield Cricket says that it helps to get to know your team and your students and learn how individuals respond differently to pressure. Some may thrive, and others may need more guidance and reassurance. Dan also explained the importance of players’ self-identifying when they feel under pressure, which can be a relief in itself to understand what makes them anxious.

Deputy Head (Academic) Alexandra Haydon stressed the importance of repeatedly analysing performance when it comes to exams, including in one example looking at data gathered from a heart monitor to improve the performance of one of her students who became anxious in exam environments. She also encouraged teachers to continue their learning and inspire their students with their own enthusiasm for their subjects: “Interested people are interesting to be around.”

Head of Netball Jenna Adamson, who had just returned from coaching the Welsh national netball team, also reminded the audience about the importance of still having fun in training: “It’s important to keep the team culture going, to make sure that people go into high level sporting situations feeling relaxed.”

Watch the full discussion here.

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