ILLAWARRA Sports High School has overhauled its athletics program in a bid to attract more of the region's top sports students.
The Berkeley school has run a selective sports program since 1996 but until now has focused only on a select number of sports and developing the physical attributes of young athletes.
Deputy principal Kylie Wood said the school's new direction would take a holistic approach where talented athletes would have access to a wide range of sports, an academically gifted program, new uniforms and high-level lectures and practical sessions at the University of Wollongong.
"We want to develop the whole athlete, where in the past we've just focused on sport," Ms Wood said.
"We want to make sure that academically our athletes are well developed for when and if their career in sport ends, so they still have plenty of career options."
This week, students in the new Talented Sports and Development Program (TSDP) visited UOW's physical education pedagogical lab for their first lecture, which taught them how to "read" a game of sport.
"We taught them what it means to be able to read the play of a game, and how to be a good communicator - verbally and non-verbally - out on the field," lab director Dana Perlman said.
TSDP students will also have access to a specialised team from Wollongong's Physical Therapy, which physiotherapist Alicia Sanzo said would help them to avoid injury and perform at their best.
"High school is a very important time for an athlete to develop their skills, so we want to make sure they are spending as much playing without injury as possible.
"We'll be doing biomechanical assessments and telling them how they can enhance their performance," she said.
Students and parents interested in hearing more abut the Talented Sports and Development Program are invited to attend an open night at Illawarra Sports High School on March 12.