News

Program aims for growth, and more than athletic success

A sports performance program in Lincoln Public Schools is not just about being bigger, faster and stronger. It’s not even just for student-athletes.

“A lot of our students are going to go on and become contributing members of society in things other than sports, and it’s important to give them a value system,” Jake Fincham said.

Fincham and Matt Bertsch are sports performance coaches in the LPS athletics department. They spoke about the value of building a sports performance program at a recent Learning Lunch.

The duo focus on education and safety to help create complete student-athletes. Once they began building the LPS program, it became clear they were doing things differently than other schools. Programs for professional and college athletes don’t work in high school.

The societal tendency is to believe that competition performance is the main indicator of improvement.

Fincham covered the stats of exactly how many student-athletes go on to play in NCAA Division I, II or III. Based on national percentages, only about 5 percent of student-athletes make it to that level. Yet these two work with thousands of student-athletes that will not play athletics at an NCAA-level school.

So the focus of the sports performance program is on long-term growth, healthy living, and to maximize each student’s potential.

“If our only goal is to have athletic success, then we are falling short,” Fincham said.

When starting they first observed what existed in LPS, and found that in some cases students were using adult training programs. What works for a Husker football player getting ready for professional football could be very harmful to a high school football player trying to make the varsity team.

Some students are overspecialized in a sport, some aren’t properly trained, and many get differencing messages from PE class to sports training. Those issues are changing to help individuals reach their own potential.

Fincham and Bertsch don’t teach a golf swing, a basketball play, or a hurdle technique. They help student-athletes develop the physical skills to do successfully.

“We want to hand off a lot of Ferraris to our coaches to work with,” Fincham said, emphasizing their goal of helping individual student-athletes improve their chances of performing at the maximum ability level.

 


Published: February 13, 2017, Updated: February 17, 2017

“A lot of our students are going to go on and become contributing members of society in things other than sports, and it’s important to give them a value system."

Jake Fincham