Principal's Address: Winter Sports Assembly 2010

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Principal's Address
Sydney Boys High School
Winter Sports Assembly
Held on 4 June 2010

Special guest Ewen McKenzie, players, coaches, staff, parents students – welcome to our Winter Sports assembly for 2010. We acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land where we gather, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation and pay our respects to them and their elders past and present.

Since the last time I addressed a winter assembly I am pleased to find that a culture shift is occurring in response to the three training sessions policy. I want to thank our Head Teacher Sport, Mark Pavone, for embedding the policy that I discussed last year. School policy is that three training sessions per week must be completed for selection in A or B GPS teams and are recommended for C teams. We expect members of first and second grade to take responsibility for personal physical preparation by logging for strength and endurance and sprint training sessions. Other teams have lesser requirements at High but not in other GPS schools. We have to respond to the new reality of much more frequent and disciplined sports training, right through our grades. To support the existing logbook system that has been administered and monitored by MICs and Jason Tassell, Mr Pavone has added personal contract letters setting out explicit expectations for boys wanting to participate in GPS competition teams.

"Our winter sports are again very well attended overall in 2010 but I regret that a number of older boys who used to play rugby have dropped out in the senior school. Depth is critical in our rebuilding program. The rugby program in the age groups 13-15 has been given a boost with the appointment of Corey Swan as Junior School Coaching Coordinator. We need that momentum to grow this season so that we can reach our goal of 12 teams in the Junior Program. I urge boys to stick together going forward so that we can field more than four teams in the Senior School in 2011. Thank you also to Geoff Stein for his commitment as MIC and the tireless Geoff Andrews from the Rugby Committee for his work in getting the season off to a good start. Association Football is our most popular winter sport. Thank you again to Richard Gifford for his efficient administration of the sport and for his recruitment of coaches.

Andrew Bennie is taking first grade again and an experienced new coach, Mehdi Hazrati, is guiding second grade. Thank you for your involvement. Football is lagging behind in physical preparation but more coaches and teams are working on a culture shift. We are building our structure in defence but need more flair in attack. Let’s have more shots on goal in the GPS season boys! I notice that some morning training sessions for junior teams are compromised quite frequently because boys are late to training. If your coach can make the effort to be there so can you!

Volleyball, our most successful winter sport, continues to be well managed by Michael Kay, Dr Ganderton and Ms Trompetter. The open team continues to win against school competition in NSW. High has built a fine tradition in this sport in the last decade. Thank you to Cathy Meaney and the Sydney High Rifle Club Inc for the development of the target rifle shooting program. We have re established our TAS visit and hope to maintain our GPS high standard with back to back premierships. The sport has grown in popularity and we are developing a sustainable model looking forward.

Cross country running is a sport that could accommodate more of our senior boys. Thank you to Mr Prorellis, Mr Kesting and his staff for their smooth operation of this sport year on year. With more talent and depth in the senior ranks this year I am hopeful of a better than usual team performance from first grade. Fencing has been given a boost with the new COLA covering the cricket nets giving the sport a permanent home for the first time. A dedicated shed for fencing is being constructed. Acquiring electric registering equipment will also move the participants in the sport to a new level. Thank you to Jenni May for her leadership in developing fencing at High and to Alwyn Wardle, our long serving fencing coach for his loyalty to the program.

This morning I want to outline an approach to managing sports performance. As Sam Stosur said after reaching the final of the French Open “I just thought about the tennis – making the shots”. Golfers and tennis players even at the highest level frequently pause to replay a shot, stroke or putt. When we do something poorly in sport during a contest, we need to re-program ourselves to get back on track and focus on the task ahead. If we do not have a strategy then we get distracted for some time by engaging in self-recrimination affecting our next skill performance. A more positive approach is to use the ARIA method. First acknowledge the error. After a missed tackle, poor pass or missed shot, pause momentarily to tell yourself that you performed the skill poorly. Next, release the past performance. Let it go. Make a throwing or discarding motion to reinforce physically what you are doing mentally, discarding the mistake. Then, imprint a visual image of the correct action. Close your eyes in a pause in play and replay the tackle, pass or shot mentally as would have liked it to be. Do this twice associating yourself with the image of perfect execution of the skill. Finally, ask your body and non-conscious self to do that next time. ALIA is the companion process for reinforcing good performance. If you do something well, acknowledge it, love yourself for it by some gesture, imprint the well executed action by mentally replaying it, then ask the self to do it again next time. When facing tough challenges, using ARIA and ALIA can help our mental states.

I am really please at the overall level of participation in winter sport this year. Congratulations to all boys selected in GPS teams this season. I know that you will all try to uphold the tradition of High – you can’t buy spirit. Good luck to all teams in all sports – Have fun!