What I do on my placement
I’m a full-time intern with Gloucester Rugby’s Strength and Conditioning team alongside studying for my degree. I’m at the training centre early preparing everything for the players from supplementation, hydration salts and protein shakes to running the ice baths. I take care of the replacements at A League games, take warm-ups and liaise with the coaches. I also assist the first team players in the gym, during training sessions and behind the scenes at matches, but I get most of my hands-on practical experience with the Academy players.
How I got here
I was doing the BTEC Diploma in Fitness at Hartpury and my lecturer recommended me to Gloucester’s Head of Strength and Conditioning. It started out as a one day placement for eight weeks but I was quickly offered more hours. At the end of college, I was offered a full-time internship and my commitments have continued to step up ever since!
Gaining practical experience
After each session, I work with the other coaches to take the players’ RPEs (Rating of Perceived Exertion) and assess how they found the session, both physically and mentally. This enables us to make any adjustments necessary and to monitor their progress. I also do strength and conditioning coaching for the Academy players and it’s a real buzz supporting them to develop as athletes and as players. We help them with their technique and movement patterns, in the gym and out on the pitch. It’s a competitive environment and it’s our job to manage that to ensure that young players are training properly and have the right mindset. I also run the Development Player Programme for the Under-15s, leading sessions for the best young players in the area. Often, it’s the first time they have really experienced any kind of S and C and it’s all about mechanics; showing them how to squat, lunge and bear crawl properly – all movements that are transferable to rugby but they don’t often realise it!
It has been amazing being exposed to elite sport at such a young age, working with both professional players and coaches. Having the chance to support the England Rugby team during the RBS 6 Nations was a fantastic opportunity that came about through my internship at Gloucester, working with some of the best athletes in the country. It was a real eye-opener; the attention to detail at international level is incredible.
How I balance my work and my studies
It’s hard! I have to be up at 6.30am to help get everything prepped for the players and I coach the Academy players in the evening, so I don’t get home until between 7pm and 8pm most nights. I’m constantly back and forth between my lectures and Gloucester’s training centre throughout the day, so it’s a big help that it’s based on campus and that I also really enjoy my course. It’s tough but it’s all worth it. At the end of the day, when I graduate, I’ll have more than three years of practical experience under my belt as well as a good degree. Other graduates will still need to do a year internship after their Masters to become an accredited S and C coach. I guess my only regret is that I’m so busy I don’t actually get to play rugby!
What I like most about my course
Compared to a lot of other universities, Hartpury University has relatively small teaching groups, which means that you get a lot of interaction with your lecturers and individual support to achieve your ambitions. There are so many opportunities to practically apply what you learn too, with the elite athletes on site and using equipment like force platforms and lighting gates. That means you gain skills and experience that mean you feel confident when you’re starting an internship or working in the industry. I don’t think you can do better than Hartpury University when it comes to developing yourself academically and practically.