By Gareth Bennett
Molly Smith, a 13-year old student at Hereford Cathedral School, is an exceptional young athlete, and I feel privileged to be her strength & conditioning coach. Molly discovered the sport of discus when she was 11 years old and she immediately excelled in the discipline. She is currently throwing over 30 meters and is not only the best in her school but when she competes at national level, she is dominating athletes 4 to 5 years her senior.
Molly’s exceptional performance, which is way above her age group, was quickly spotted by top performance coach Andy Neal, a consultant for British Athletics who specializes in coach education and has trained many top athletes including Olympian Jade Lally, the current British discus record holder. Since Andy has taken Molly under his wing, she has been travelling to Horsham for additional coaching as well as regular training sessions at Hereford Athletics Club, and her personal best has been continually growing.
Molly’s strength & conditioning sessions with me focus a lot on keeping her body symmetrical – during the action of throwing a discus, Molly’s still developing body is placed under a tremendous force, and this, combined with the one-sided nature of the movement would soon cause imbalances if not addressed.
Every exercise we perform is tweaked to have more of an effect on her core, and whenever possible we have extra emphasis on her non-dominant side to help with the imbalances and injury prevention. Even with the stretching and yoga poses we have to spend more time on the dominant side to help even out the imbalances.
On a personal level, it amazes me how she fits all her sessions in. In addition to athletics, Molly is accomplished at team sports netball and hockey, and she also has her school commitments. Then there is her interest in fashion and theatrical makeup, so with such a busy schedule, it shows what a committed and driven athlete this young lady is.
Molly’s dream is to become an Olympic athlete and I am 100 per cent confident this will happen. Keep up the great work and wishing you the best!
Gareth Bennett is a Personal Trainer and Head Strength & Conditioning Coach for Team GB Paralympic Goalball Team. Home visits and one-to-one sessions are also available.
Tel: 07429 132 276 Facebook: Train-GB
Founder and editor of FitNet.
Previously gymnastics coach, massage therapist and personal trainer with 20 years of experience. Former gymnast and dancer.