Training camp move to Waterside helps national team stay on top form

Date 22.07.2019

A leading sports team have seen their performance enhanced after moving their training camp to the University of Northampton.

England Dodgeball – currently ranked as number one in Europe – have been visiting the Sports Zone at the University’s Waterside campus for one Saturday every month since February.

Their academy and senior teams – comprising both male and female players – have been given unrestricted access to the facilities there.

This includes sole use of the indoor Sports Dome to play practice games as well as the classrooms where their development professionals have been able to concentrate on sport psychology, nutrition and team-working.

They have also had the ear of researchers in the University’s Faculty of Health and Society who have given expert advise about their training, as well guest talks from the Faculty’s sport and exercise science team.

Dodgeball is a fast and furious sport in which two teams compete to ‘knock’ the other’s players out by successfully hitting them with a ball. If the ball is caught by the opposing side, they can have a player reinstated. The game is won when the other team have been eliminated, or if time runs out and your team has the most players on court.

Team Manager Johnathan Rudland said: “We’re ranked as European number one which can be a tricky time for an elite sports team, the danger being that you might ‘drop the ball’.

“But we don’t take our ranking for granted. We have to push and stretch ourselves and are always looking for new and creative ways to keep us in top position, which is why we’ve partnered with University of Northampton. What is offered here is perfect for what we want to do and where we want to be.”

England Dodgeball are the first sports team to move their training camps to Waterside and they have rapidly seen the benefits of this, as Johnathan explains: “Like many teams, we have to be mindful of our finances, so our training camps have generally taken place at the most affordable and available venues, usually local leisure centres.

“It can be distracting training in a dome where there is something else going on and sometimes you can only book the space for a few hours. But we have much more freedom at the University.

“We have priority access to the rooms here and, crucially, we have the whole day to devote to our training. Having this extra time and space means that, as one example, we’ve been able to get our sport therapists in to every single session this year. Before, because they never had a dedicated space to work, they’d only be able to attend just before a game.

“At Waterside, we have been able to play for longer, push our players harder and concentrate on things like their nutrition which previously we couldn’t devote much time to. Every aspect of our performance as a team has improved since coming here.”

England Dodgeball’s current round of training camps at the University finish in August and their first major competition will be the European Finals in Newcastle later this month, but the team have already confirmed they will return.

The University’s new Sport Rehabilitation and Conditioning degree welcomes its first intake of students in September, and plans are afoot for volunteering and support opportunities with England Dodgeball, as Johnathan adds: “This is a knowledge set that we lack at the moment, so having these new  students starting in the autumn is really going to help us plug that gap and help the students develop their skills at the same time by giving them practical, hands-on work with a sports team that will enhance their studies.”

Email the University for further information about the facilities, advice and support available for sport teams at Waterside.

Find out more about the University’s new sport degrees on our website.

Find out more about the England Dodgeball team on their website.