Sport and Exercise Sciences undergraduate internships at West Bromwich Albion Football Club

Undergraduate Sport and Exercise Students from the University of Birmingham describe their experience as interns with West Bromwich Albion Football Club.

Video Title: Sport and Exercise Sciences undergraduate internships at West Bromwich Albion Football Club
Duration: 5.14 mins

Speaker Names (if given):
Curt Taylor - Sport and Exercise Sciences Undergraduate
S2 Nathan Puxty - Sport and Exercise Sciences Undergraduate
S3 Matt Green - First Team Fitness Coach, West Bromwich Albion FC

S1 A lot of emphasis at a professional football club is on heart rates and GPS systems and so a lot of preparation will go into the heart rate systems and the GPS. So we'll come in in the morning and we'll assign these units to players. The GPS systems are quite expensive so they tend to go to the first team players.

Then we'll go out to training and we'll tend to be with the under-18s, being an assistant to the actual coach and we'll also collect the data then with a piece of equipment called Activio and that allows us to actually see live data of their heart rates and gives us an idea of the intensity of the session.

Then it'll come to the afternoon and we’ll actually analyse the data which could be anything from seeing how many red zone minutes they've got - which is any time they spend above 85% of their maximum heart rate. TRIMP which stands for Training Impulse, which is a score of the band of their maximal heart rate, so it actually gives a better indication of how hard they've been working.

S2 The work on a daily basis involves coming in in the morning and making sure that all of the supplements and the nutritional side of it is set up to begin the day. In my nutrition module they are talking about different type of nutrition for different situations, and obviously I can see what football players need as opposed to a bodybuilder or something like that. There's a lot of nutrition supply in the cupboards here that we get to see, loads of different types. So you get to actually see it and see the players using it as opposed to just reading about it. The main benefit is that you hear about what goes on in the press with regards to the clubs and obviously the sport science that's available, we get to see it firsthand. What we learn in our lectures we can actually see it in practice so it gives it more realism.

S3 The advantage of offering internships to Birmingham students is great for us because they've got a good solid all-round knowledge after their first and second year of studies and then with that we get a member of staff which is local, able to come in and help us with all different parts of the role, it's multi-factorial really they might do some logistical things such as set up and make sure everything runs well, all the way through to analysis and help us work through the data and do some statistical analysis. So it's us being able to use their skill set but also for them to be able to develop as practitioners and learn from us.

(Talking to players whilst demonstratin exercise) You're gonna lean forward, knee over toe, opposite arm’s gonna drive up to that position to hold.. one.. two...

My UG studies were invaluable really because of the knowledge I gained and the good practices that I went through there so what I hope really is that everything I do here in an applied environment is underpinned by good solid scientific evidence and knowledge really. 

I did an internship at Birmingham Uni which was predominantly lab-based picking up some of the skill sets that you need when testing athletes and then also did some strength and condition work with some of the sports team there. After that I saw an internship advertised at West Brom so I applied for that and was successful and then started as an intern for about 18 months here. From there I got the full-time academy sport science position and then from there for the last six months I've graduated up into a first team role here.

Working in this setting and applying your skills, I think it's invaluable because you are here full time, you're in and around the players, the athletes and other members of staff. So you're just in a culture where the environment breeds conversation about it and you can learn from all the experienced practitioners. The quality of students that we received on the internship from Birmingham has been great. This is our 4th year now of the placement and every time the students have had a great work ethic, a good sound scientific knowledge and their application has been very, very good and they've learned as they've progressed throughout the year. You've seen a definite improvement in this environment from day one all the way through to the end of the year.

S1 If you go to an employer and they have a first class honours degree - the person you're competing against has a first class honours degree - you also have a first class honours degree and an internship at a premiership football club, they know you are going to understand the environment, they know you're going to have put what you've learnt into practice and I think that'll make you stand out in the future so it's definitely beneficial to be somewhere likes this.

As soon as I'd seen Mike White [Reader in Exercise Physiology] say, in the lecture, that an internship is available for West Brom I said to myself "I'm having that". So I emailed him, I actually had my phone on me in that lecture, and I emailed him whilst he was still talking about the internship. So I made sure I got in there first!