A refreshed Athlete Development Holiday Academy programme was a success over the summer, with 30 keen young athletes enjoying movement-based activities for an action-packed week.

Athlete Development (AD), AUT Millennium’s research-backed movement programme for young athletes, runs morning sessions during term time, focused on the fundamentals of movement. The popular sessions are a hit with the athletes, so it made sense to extend the programme into the school holidays to provide parents with an option for their sports-mad child.

Patrick Davenport, AD’s Programme Manager, was thrilled to see the uptake over the summer, resulting in the most successful Holiday Academy to date. “We put a lot of work in to make it a truly sport/athletically-minded experience which caters to the youth athlete specifically,” he says. “We kept our young athletes in mind the whole time, and wanted to dial in on what would help them. They could tell that what we were doing was going to help their sporting development.”

The Holiday Academy was targeted at young movers between the ages of 10-15, and featured a range of on-site and off-site activities, such as speed and agility work, swimming, weightlifting and a trip to JUMP Trampoline Park. The most popular sessions were based in the AUT Millennium Sports Hall, focusing on power and explosiveness. “We like to think of movement ‘riddles’,” Patrick explains. “We set up complex obstacle courses where we expect the athletes to fail first time around. Watching them think it through and apply themselves, and figure it out in the end is really rewarding.” Many of the movements are based around the fundamental skills needed in most sports, such as jumping and landing, and the athletes also cover theoretical aspects, such as the importance of stretching.

Academy Programme Manager Patrick Davenport works with one of our young athletes.
Academy Programme Manager Patrick Davenport works with one of our young athletes.

Throughout the week, the coaches saw the social barriers break down within the group, to the point where some of the regular AD athletes took a leadership role and were coaching first timers. “That seemed to be really enjoyable and powerful for some of our newer athletes,” Pat recalls. “The group got more and more confident, and more willing to engage with the coaches and each other as the week went on.”

Another group to benefit from the week of intensive sessions was the AD coaches. Alongside Lead Coaches Mathew and Yash, AUT co-op students Lynn, Aaran and Joel had the opportunity to apply their coaching skills in a fully immersive environment. “There’s a lot of planning which goes into the Holiday Academy,” Patrick says, “and it’s a good opportunity  for our coaches to try things, learn and develop their coaching skills across the week.”

Other than seeing the confidence and physical advancement of the athletes throughout the week, the best validation has come from parent feedback. “One parent emailed to let us know that it’s the first holiday camp her son had raved about,” Patrick shares. “He actually used the words ‘best holiday programme ever!’ That kind of feedback was incredible to hear, and makes us more keen to deliver the same experience next time.”

Off the back of the success of the summer Holiday Academy, the Athlete Development team are gearing up for an even bigger April programme. “We want to keep up the momentum,” Patrick says. “We had a wait list for January, so we’ve been working towards increasing the capacity and working with more young athletes.”


Athlete Development isn’t just for the most talented kids in their age group. With the programme focused on overall movement skills, the only prerequisite is that your child loves to move and be challenged. “We’re all about young movers staying active, particularly over the school holidays,” Patrick tells. “We challenge them with activities which test their problem solving skills and team work, as well as building their general athleticism. It’s an inspiring environment, being at the home of High Performance Sport New Zealand, so the athletes are immersed in a place which caters for some of our country’s very best athletes.”

For more on Athlete Development and the Holiday Academy, email [email protected]

You can sign up for April’s Holiday Academy now via our online portal.

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Heather is our Communications Manager here at AUT Millennium. With a BA/BCom from the University of Auckland and postgraduate qualification in communications, Heather honed her copywriting skills in the recruitment and tertiary industries. As a storyteller, she loves to share the inspirational stories of the AUT Millennium community. Her mood will greatly depend on the current (mis)fortunes of the BlackCaps and Warriors. [email protected]