"I believe this course enabled me to make a thoroughly informed decision about the career pathway I wanted to take.""
After graduating from The University of Birmingham, I immediately went on to conduct PhD research in the field of motor control and sports coaching at the University of Central Lancashire. Specifically, my research addresses the significant gap in current sport psychology/coaching research, knowledge and practice relating to successful skill refinement. In short, this work is targeted towards helping those performers who have an already learnt and well-established movement technique but who then wish to adjust, refine and execute their new version consistently (permanently) within the context of a high-pressured competitive sporting environment (pressure resistance). Accordingly, I have investigated how such objectives can be embedded within the refinement process itself.
From an applied perspective, I am a PGA Golf Professional and am currently undertaking accreditation as a Sport and Exercise Scientist specialising in ‘skill development and refinement’ (through the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences). Within these roles, I offer private consultancy to performers and their coaches relating to skill acquisition, refinement and performance optimisation. I also provide education in the form of Continuing Professional Development to The Professional Golfers’ Association and various coaching related degrees at the University of Central Lancashire..
Outline the course you studied at the University of Birmingham and how it benefited you?
The course that I studied at The University of Birmingham was Applied Golf Management Studies (AGMS). This degree course provides a unique insight into multiple aspects of the golf industry, incorporating aspects of sport science, coaching, business management and research methods, in addition to providing a route towards PGA accreditation. As such, I believe this course enabled me to make a thoroughly informed decision about the career pathway I wanted to take.
How did you find your first year in Birmingham?
Having taken a year out of education before commencing study in Birmingham, my first year was full of anticipation. Initially I have to admit it was a bit of a shock to the system, however it was not long before, with advice from course tutors, that I realised the ‘scope’ of education available and freedom to delve as little or as much into a subject as I wished. Once this was established, I started to develop the confidence and ability to be proactive with my study.
How did going to University as a whole benefit you?
Going to University helped open my mind to ideas about something that I was passionate about. The resources and support available have helped develop my skills in reflection and critical thinking that I use not only to conduct my current research, but in day-to-day life as well. Ultimately, attending University and engaging with the process of Higher Education has provided me with the foundations to start and continue on a career pathway of my choice.
How did you find campus life?
Studying on the Edgbaston Campus was a joy. I always felt safe when travelling to and from study, making the whole experience of working hard much easier. The blend of historic and beautiful architectural buildings at its centre, with modern, state of the art surrounds provided a real sense of academic place; perfect for inspiring you to learn from the past and contribute to the future.
How did you find living in Birmingham?
The great thing about living in Birmingham is the diverse student community. Whether living in student halls in the first year, or Selly Oak in the second or third years, I always sensed a strong student community both on and around the campus. Birmingham as a city has something for everyone, sport, culture, shopping, history, canal walks or nights out. Importantly, however, with its easy access to major motorways I was able to stay connected with my friends and family at home (London), making the best of both locations.
Any tips to pass on to students thinking of coming here?
Despite being at University for 3 years, it will seem like much less and before you know it you will be entering the world of work. So, my advice would be to make the most of your time at Birmingham, especially of the University. Whilst studying there are so many resources for you to tap into, including electronic articles, libraries and knowledge from expert staff members and guest lecturers. I will never forget the first piece of advice given to me by my course leader (Dr Martin Toms): “you read for your degree, read, read, read and do some more reading”. Always ask questions and seek to find out the practical implications of what you are learning, don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd if it means gaining a deeper understanding of your chosen subject; in the long-term you will be pleased that you did!
What are your aspirations for the future?
My future aspirations are to continue researching at the forefront of applied coaching practice, but also, to help facilitate the closing of a presently evident research-practice gap. My approach to doing so will aim to incorporate both formal and informal coach mentoring (on an individual and group basis), establishing communities of coaching practice with an evidence-based ethos to support the growth of professional judgment and decision making.
I think you realise once you’ve left what the potential opportunities are at university. Whilst there is a time and place for taking it easy after years at school, don’t be afraid to ‘get busy’ when at university making the most of all the opportunities.
What are your aspirations for the future?
2012 has been a fantastic year having been heavily involved in the London 2012 games. I am keen to make the most of the energy I have from this incredible project; at work, in sport and in life in general.