Sport Northern Ireland
Greatest Achievement: In the last 5 years athletes from Northern Ireland have won over 80 medals at senior level at Commonwealth, European, World, Olympic and Paralympic Games
Goal: To support and deliver improving athlete performance
SNI is the high performance arm of Sport Northern Ireland and delivers expert support to Northern Ireland's top athletes and coaches. Its staff currently provides specialist services to more than 200 athletes and 50 coaches from 25 Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games sports along with a select number of sports that are important to the public in Northern Ireland including GAA, Golf, Cricket, Motor Sports, Rugby, and Soccer.
Improving athlete performance is at the core of everything SNI does and practitioners work daily with coaches and athletes as part of their elite performance programmes. Staff operate in sport-led programmes but work together in both an inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary fashion to ensure that support is 'wrapped around' the athlete as they execute their training plan.
SNI support services are delivered through the Institute's five service units:
- Performance planning - which provides expertise to help make a sport's high performance programme stronger. The unit also helps coaches to become better at using the support services available at the Sports Institute.
- Performance skills - whose work encompasses sport psychology and lifestyle management. The unit works with athletes to minimise distractions and maximise performance under pressure.
- Strength & conditioning - which works to develop robust athletes showing gains in the physical aspects of their sport necessary for competition at world level. S&C involves any activity used to enhance and facilitate performance. These activities include, but are not limited to running, jumping, agility, core and endurance training.
- Sports medicine - which provides services that ensure athletes reach and maintain optimum physical health and are able to perform effectively in both training and competition. These services include medical, physiotherapy and soft tissue management services.
- Performance science - Provides a range of sport science services that examine athlete performance. The information gathered aids design of specific strategies for individual athletes that may include for example:
- Adjustments to the training programme to produce physiological adaptation (exercise physiology)
- Application of video technology to improve coach feedback to athletes (performance analysis)
- Specific fuelling and hydration strategies to enhance performance and recovery (performance nutrition)
- SNI is based at Jordanstown, but practitioners also deliver to athletes at sports venues throughout Northern Ireland and on occasion when they are training or competing abroad.