An interview with Kevin Paxton

09 October 2018


We don’t need to tell you about how we’ve teamed up with Game Changer Performance to deliver an exciting, brand new service for Primary Schools!  Our Athletic Development Days are a fun way to measure pupil’s athletic abilities and introduce fun and engaging long term athletic development programmes (LTAD) to schools.


Kevin Paxton is Physical Performance Education Lead at GCP, a lecturer at University of Derby and is Head of Academy Sport Science at Leicester City Football Club. We were delighted when he spared us a few minutes to talk about his sporting life… and the exciting new range he’s working on with Playforce.


Kevin, thanks for talking to us. Let’s start with an easy one… What were your favourite experiences of outdoor play from when you were younger?


Like anyone they were pretty simple... Climbing frames, ropes, stepping stones, cargo nets. We didn’t really have playground equipment at school beyond a few tunnels and hills so it came down to making our own fun. A lot of it was imaginative play - but that didn’t make it any less active! We used to pull out all the old fashioned gym equipment - you know the sort of thing… horses and beams and ropes - and make up our own assault courses, pretending we were ninja warriors, vaulting and jumping across.


So, how did sports and play at your school help you to get where you are today?


We were lucky that we were encouraged to try a wide range of outdoor sports - far more than children nowadays get to try, in the majority of cases. Being outdoors and trying things out led to me developing an interest and underpinned my future path into a career in sports.



You think promoting sports in schools is important, then?


Absolutely. I have a very real fear that children just aren't getting enough physical activity and play within today’s curriculum. It’s important that children are presented with physically challenging situations, where they can experiment with games and role play.  Because they aren’t getting so many of these at school they’re less confident at trying things out. This, combined with a reduction in traditional competition means children are losing their instinct for competition. When I was at school - and what underpinned my sporting career - it wasn’t all about winning but it was fun to compete and feel we’d achieve an end result. Now it often feels a bit too nice and politically correct - and I worry that this makes it too easy for children such that they don’t learn to experiment and overcome their fears.


You’re a busy man. Do have time to play any sports now?


It’s an important part of my life, so yes, I do stay very active and involved in sport. I still like running and playing football and cricket, as well as doing boxing, marshall arts, swimming, skiing and cycling. At the moment I’m trying to develop some gymnastic skills to help my son out… I can’t pretend I’m very good at it!


What are your day to day tasks as Physical Performance Education Lead at Game Changer Performance?


My role at GCP is a consultancy role focused on long term player development - in short, how we can engage children so that they want to become players and sports people as they get older. That means advising on strength and conditioning as well as coach education and quality assurance.



Playforce has teamed up with GCP to offer Athletic Development Days to Primary schools. What can schools expect from these days?


The Athlete Development Days we’re offering are an alternative form of CPD for teachers. Teachers can come and experience leading practitioners in the field of physical development and youth development through physical education sessions. We work through a structured syllabus designed around long term athlete development. It’s an opportunity for teachers to refine their coaching skills and learn some new approaches and ideas through a fresh voice. This can lead to new lesson plans, benchmark testing of physical literacy and can start to help them formalise the ways in which they measure physical literacy at their school.


Most importantly, they’re great fun for the children as - irrespective of ability - they spend the time taking part in fun fitness sessions, building their confidence to try new activities and engage in a variety of sports.


We know you’re working with our Playforce Product Design team at the moment, are you able to tell us anything about this exciting project?!


Well I can’t tell you too much until it’s launched… but we’re working on a range of innovative products that really haven’t been seen before, for schools. The idea is that they’ll combined athletic development and physical literacy scoring systems.


I think one of the keys to motivating children to try new things is their being able to get real feedback from equipment. It’s about giving them the chance to test themselves and to try to beat their past performance. This is what I was talking about in terms of developing their competitive edge.


We’re working on a range of interchangeable equipment that will offer children different sessions of activity, as well as to sessions tailored to different age groups. Our hope is they’ll be able to use the equipment to develop strength, power and more general physical literacy over their entire primary school career. They're going to want to go and have a go and have a play.


If you are interested in an Athletic Development Day please fill in the form here or please contact Playforce on or 01225 792660.

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