By: Grace Pettee ’20
Sports programs in independent schools has changed a lot over the years, and Pine Crest School is no exception. As research has become more robust in areas like student-athlete safety and overall wellness, Pine Crest’s methodology and facilities have evolved to better serve students and meet their individual goals. A generous gift from Brandon Knight ’10 in 2018 helped modernize the performance training facility in Lane Hall on the Fort Lauderdale campus. Now called the Brandon Knight Sports Performance Center, the staff and equipment have helped usher in a new era of Pine Crest Athletics.
One of the areas of focus for Pine Crest Athletics is strength training, which offers a wide variety of benefits, including teaching students how to maintain a healthy body and mind, promoting long-term athletic development, and emphasizing whole body training. For student-athletes, strength and conditioning are crucial for improving performance and reducing the risk of injury.
Beginning in Middle School, Pine Crest students have the opportunity to take strength and conditioning during the school day to fulfill their physical education requirement. Students at this age learn how to control certain muscles necessary for daily life. The emphasis in the weight room is acquiring a wide range of skills necessary for a number of sporting activities.
For those who wish to play competitive sports at the Upper School level, the Performance Center offers an opportunity to develop a foundation to continue their athletic growth. Students have a variety of ways to get involved in the weight room. Many coaches encourage student-athletes to go to the weight room at least once during the day. Students who do not play sports or those who are out of season can go to the weight room before school, during a free period, or after school for a personalized workout.
Pine Crest performance staff evaluate students before starting their programs, based on their goals and abilities. Once that is determined, the performance staff will develop a personalized program that includes all facets of performing at an optimal level, whether for athletic performance or increased fitness level.
Having worked with athletes for 26 years, Tim Hibbs, CSCS, Head of Sports Performance, knows how strength training improves athletes’ performance.
“Not strength training is like going to a sport without your cleats, your glove, or your stick,” said Coach Hibbs. “If you’re serious about your craft, no matter the sport, strength training is proven to be beneficial. Our main focus is on improving sports performance, but we are happy to work with students who are interested in increasing their fitness level.”
“All participants are evaluated before starting their programs, based on their goals and abilities. Once that is determined, the performance staff will develop a personalized program that includes all facets of performing at an optimal level, whether for athletic performance or increased fitness level.”
Strength training has a wide variety of benefits such as,
- Maintaining a healthy body and mind
- Long term athletic development
- Whole body training
Maintaining a Healthy Body and Mind
During a 30-40 minute period of working out the brain increases the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine. These signals send messages of well-being and happiness throughout the central nervous system.
“Studies have shown that strength training improves cognitive function,” said coach Hibbs.
Long Term Athletic Development
Pine Crest believes strongly in Long Term Athlete Development protocols, as outlined in the United States Olympic Committee’s American Development Model.
“Students are trained based on their age and physical literacy,” said Coach Hibbs.
Strict adherence is given to proper technique before athletes are allowed to move on to higher, more sophisticated levels of training — every age group has a different goal to reach.
Whole Body Training
In the Brandon Knight Performance Center, students focus their strength and conditioning on the whole body - this means that no specific muscle is targeted at each workout.
“The Brandon Knight Center should not be an intimidating place,” says Coach Hibbs. “The staff is here to assist anyone who is interested in getting involved in performance training.”
Training focuses around improving overall muscle capacity. This allows students to have more control over their muscles. Additionally, training the whole body increases strength and endurance, so students won’t feel as sore after a hard workout or practice.
Whether you’re in Middle School or Upper School, the weight room is a great place to strengthen your mind and body.