Induction 2019: Student stories

As part of our student induction this year we have been sharing a collection of stories from some of our #TeamOUsport students on Twitter. You will find a summary of the Tweets on this page. I’m sure you will agree that these stories are very inspiring.

To view Simon’s story in full click here

To view Michaels’s story in full click here

To view Amanda’s story in full click here

To view Helen’s story in full click here

To view John’s story in full click here and here

To view Kevin’s story in full click here

To view James’s story in full click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can find our full collection of student stories here.
If you are a #TeamOUsport student and you would like to share your story please get in touch via WELS-Sports@open.ac.uk.

Why aren’t we educating those supporting injured players about mental health?

By Caroline Heaney

Photo by Fancy Crave on Unsplash

Recently, The Independent reported that professional football clubs are failing to provide injured players with the psychological support they need (Lovett, 2019). The psychological impact of sport injury is well documented – for example, the IOC consensus statement on mental health in elite athletes (Reardon et al., 2019) recognises that sport injury can have a significant impact on mental health, and several sportsmen and women (e.g. footballer Danny Rose) have cited injury as a trigger for mental health difficulties. So why is it that the psychological aspects of sport injury are being ignored in professional football?

The article in The Independent, which explored a study conducted by Dr Misia Gervis, pointed towards a lack of education and training amongst medical staff treating injured players – an area that I have researched extensively with my colleagues at The Open University. My early work in this area (Heaney, 2006) investigated the attitudes and perceptions of physiotherapists working in professional football and identified that whilst physiotherapists recognised that injury had a psychological impact they largely did not have the education or training to be able to respond effectively. This was supported by our 2012 investigation into physiotherapy education in the UK (Heaney et al., 2012) which revealed great diversity in the provision of psychology education in physiotherapy programmes and an inconsistency between the reported importance of psychology and the demonstrated importance of psychology through its visibility within the curriculum.

Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash

These findings indicate that UK physiotherapy training does not adequately prepare sports medicine staff for dealing with the psychological aspects of sport injury and that training in this area would be beneficial, but is this the case? To answer this question we conducted two further studies. The first (Heaney et al., 2017a) examined the sport psychology related attitudes and behaviours of ninety-four qualified sports injury rehabilitation professionals (physiotherapists and sports therapists) working in sport. These professionals were split into two groups – those who had been exposed to education on the psychological aspects of sport injury as part of their undergraduate or postgraduate studies and those who had not. It was found that those who had studied the psychological aspects of sport injury integrated significantly more sport psychology into their practice and referred more athletes to sport psychologists for further support than those who had not.

Photo by Hussain Ibrahim on Unsplash

The findings of this study suggest that sport psychology education is beneficial to sport injury rehabilitation professionals and the athletes they treat, but what about the professionals who aren’t lucky enough to receive sport injury psychology education as part of their undergraduate or postgraduate training? How can they access the benefits of sport injury psychology education? We wanted to know whether post-qualification continuing professional development (CPD) training on the topic can derive the same benefits and so we conducted a further study (Heaney et al., 2017b) exploring the impact of an online sport injury psychology education module on the attitudes and behaviours of ninety-five physiotherapists working in sport who had not been exposed to sport psychology education as part of their undergraduate or postgraduate training. The physiotherapists were randomly assigned to either an intervention group who studied an online CPD module titled ‘sport psychology for physiotherapists’ or a control group who studied an equivalent online CPD module on strength and conditioning which had no psychology content. Physiotherapists working in sport tend to be busy professionals who work unsociable hours and travel a lot (e.g. traveling to competitions across the country or the world) and therefore it was important that the CPD module was flexible, accessible and of a duration that would promote adherence. Consequently, an online format was adopted with a study duration of approximately 12 hours. The ‘sport psychology for physiotherapists’ module covered three main areas – (1) understanding the psychological impact of sport injury, (2) psychological skills and techniques for injured athletes, and (3) referral and professional boundaries. Attitudes and behaviours towards sport psychology were measured before the module and at three points after the module had been completed (immediately, 3 months and 6 months after). It was found that those who had studied the sport psychology module demonstrated an improvement in their attitudes towards sport psychology immediately following its completion that was significantly higher than those who had studied the control module. Use of sport psychology also increased following the sport psychology module, with significant differences seen between the intervention and control group indicating that those who had studied the sport psychology module were integrating more sport psychology techniques into their practice than those who had studied the control module.

Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash

The findings of this study indicated that CPD courses can address the limitations that some physiotherapists and other members of the sports medicine team have in their understanding of the psychological aspects of sport injury, but it also uncovered another issue – a distinct lack of CPD offerings in this area in the UK. We have sought to address this by developing a free Badged Open Course Exploring the psychological aspects of sport injury, which we hope will contribute to bridging the gap, but more still needs to be done to ensure that sport psychology is properly integrated into undergraduate and postgraduate training so that injured players get both the physical and psychological support they need during sport injury.

Its not all doom and gloom when it comes to this topic and its important to note that some professional football clubs do utilise sport injury protocols that integrate psychological factors and use multidisciplinary sports medicine teams that include sport psychologists to support the injured athlete. Indeed, The Independent article gives the example of Queens Park Rangers where sport psychology is firmly embedded within the treatment room. Dr Misia Gervis suggests that for this to become more commonplace “a cultural shift of practice is needed by medics, physios and coaches.” It is my belief that educating sports medicine professionals is the first and key step to enabling this cultural shift.

********************************************************************************

Please watch the video to find out more about the free Badged Open Course (BOC) Exploring the Psychological Aspects of Sport Injury

********************************************************************************

Bernal’s ‘amazing engine’: how do endurance athletes’ hearts differ?

By Nichola Kentzer

Many will remember the 2019 Tour de France for its premature finish caused by hailstorms and landslides, rather than the incredible achievements of the endurance athletes. To complete the 21 stages spanning 3,480 kilometres is an extraordinary feat – but what is it about these athletes that allows them to do it? The physiology of a Tour de France rider has been examined in depth by scientists (e.g. Santalla and colleagues in 2012), but in this short article we will be focusing on just one aspect, the heart.

The heart of the matter

Chris Froome described Egan Bernal, the 2019 Tour champion, as having ‘an amazing enginereferring to Bernal’s heart, the muscular pump, that drives blood around the body to perform essential functions. Located in the left-hand side of the chest and typically about the size of a clenched fist, Bernal’s heart’s ability to pump the required oxygen to his working muscles to complete the mountain climbs and long distances, is the key to his success.

We can make such statements because, on examination, as the athlete trains their hearts get bigger and stronger meaning they can pump more blood per beat. Indeed, athletes often have a larger than usual left ventricle, developed through conditioning the body to be as efficient as possible. Referring to these adaptations to training, Bradley Wiggins was described as have a heart ‘like a bucket’ after his 2012 Tour victory.

Because of this increased efficiency, and the trained heart’s ability to pump more blood per beat, a key indicator of an endurance athlete’s heart efficiency is their resting heart rate. Where an average adult’s resting heart rate might be between 60-90 beats per minute (bpm), a Tour de France cyclist can have readings of lower than 40 bpm. Physiological tests carried out on Chris Froome by Team Sky to quash doping allegations after his Tour successes, showed that his resting heart rate dropped as low as 29 bpm.

Cycling is not the only sport that produces these super athletes. Biathlon, combining cross country skiing with precision target shooting, is widely recognised as one of the most challenging winter endurance events. Indeed, the two activities seem unlikely partners with one requiring strength, speed and endurance and the other requiring concentration and a steady hand (while your heart is still thumping from the exertion!).

Top French biathlete, Martin Fourcade, winner of over 20 World Championship medals, over 120 World Cup medals and seven Olympic medals posted his own resting heart rate readings on his Instagram account in 2017. He reported an incredible 25 bpm. Although this reading is his own, and biathletes do specifically train to lower their heart beat to enable more accurate shooting, the value is incredible considering the lowest resting heart rate on record is 27 bpm.

This level of efficiency can also be examined through a second measure: cardiac output the amount of blood ejected from the left ventricle in one minute. It is calculated by multiplying the person’s heart rate by their stroke volume (amount of blood pumped from the left ventricle in a single heart beat). Therefore, with the trained endurance athlete’s larger left ventricle and lower resting heart rate, they can pump out more blood per beat and their heart needs to beat less frequently to achieve the same cardiac output.

And for those of us who are not elite endurance athletes?

Comfortingly for us mere mortals, and important knowledge for those working in the sport and fitness industry, regular exercise (not necessarily long-distance cycling!) improves heart health and increases cardiac output. This enables us to reduce our resting heart rates and for our bodies to become more efficient, even if not to the extreme levels of the athletes discussed above. So instead of sitting at your desk during your lunch break take a brisk walk, opt for the stairs, and park a few hundred metres further from the supermarket entrance, as these small changes can all improve your heart and most importantly your health.

Managing a career and motherhood: Is it possible in Elite Netball?

By Jess Pinchbeck and Candice Lingam-Willgoss

With the 2019 Netball word cup upon us our screens are filled with inspirational female athletes and role models showing not only great displays of physical athleticism but also the psychological composure to perform under pressure. However, in addition to their netballing prowess these women are also role models for their inspirational stories off the court. Many of the players in the tournament are not full-time professional athletes and often hold down regular jobs alongside training and playing at elite level, demonstrating an extraordinary commitment and drive to fulfil their playing ambitions. Added to this some of the women combine work and elite sport with motherhood.  This is something of a break from tradition which used to see women end their career in sport to have children but with optimal fertility often falling at the same time as peak performance we see more instances of elite athletes breaking down the myth that combining these two roles is incompatible.

One such inspiration story is that of Samoan international Gerardine Nafanua Solia-Gibb, a 35 year old mother of five boys aged between one and fourteen years. Despite being a mother of five Solia-Gibb is reported to be one of the fittest members of the Samoan camp, however she does explain that taking note of your body after birth is important, particularly the impact of breastfeeding which can soften ligaments and increase the risk of injury. There are also the logistics of training commitments and to overcome this her sons frequently attend training with her after school. Like many of the teams in the World Cup netball is not particularly well-funded in Samoa and so typically players work alongside playing netball. Solia-Gibb runs a fibre cable installation business with her husband, factoring this in alongside everything else. Coming from a sporting family  herself with four older sisters, who have all made appearances for Samoa Netball, and a husband, who played rugby for Samoa, this perhaps gives her the drive and support network required to cope with such demands on her time.     

Another mother to grace the courts at Liverpool this summer is 26 year old Singapore centre court player Shawallah Rashid, who returns to the World Cup squad after giving birth to her second child in February. Rashid admits to being driven to return to fitness following the birth to make the World Cup squad after missing out on previous competitions due to pregnancy.   Similarly, to Solia-Gibb, Rashid also balances work, motherhood and netball successfully working as a secondary school executive. Rashid is the first mother to be part of the Singapore squad, and attributed her ability to return to international netball to the support of her family. Rashid admits that being apart from her children during the World Cup is not easy but feels that being a role model for her children is important. This example illustrates how a strong support network is necessary for an athlete who is considering balancing motherhood with sport and that this tends to be very tangible support (e.g. childcare) provided by both an athletes spouse and other family. 

An example of the conflict between netball and motherhood is evident in Casey Kopua’s return to World Cup Netball for New Zealand following her international retirement in 2017. From a slightly different background in New Zealand, where Silver Ferns players typically earn enough money to be full-time netballers, 34 year old Kopua, is returning to international netball, after the birth of her first child in 2016. The desire to win a World Cup gold medal proving just too much to resist and with her daughter now slightly older, and the support of her family, Kopua feels it is the right time to return.

Although some of the women here have demonstrated that it is possible to combine motherhood and netball, for some this feels unachievable. Many players see international netball and motherhood as incompatible, often deciding to retire from the sport when they wish to start a family.  As alluded to by Rashid the incompatibility of this often stems from the fact that a sport such a netball requires a mother having to be away from her family for extensive periods of time.  However, 34 year old England goalkeeper, Geva Mentor, has chosen a slightly different path and opted to freeze her eggs after the tournament to be able to become a mother once she makes the decision to retire. Mentor hopes this leads the way for other young netballers to give them an option of having a full career before starting a family.


It would appear that with a good support network and the financial stability required managing international netball and a family, often alongside a career, can be achievable and effective, however for some players the prospect of taking the career break required to have a baby is too much to contemplate. With Netball continuously rising in popularity and increasing professional opportunities for elite players there are many issues surrounding netball and motherhood that need to be explored further.

The 2019 Netball World Cup and beyond: playing for the future

By Jess Pinchbeck

So far this summer we’ve seen women’s sport grow from strength to strength with greater coverage than ever in the global media, and it’s not over yet! Building on the excitement and drama of the Women’s Football World Cup another significant sporting event is poised to commence, the Vitality Netball World Cup, hosted here in England! England’s tense Commonwealth Gold medal victory over Australia on their home turf in April 2018 means the world number one’s are out for revenge, although it’s certainly not a two-team tournament with Jamaica, New Zealand and South Africa all major contenders.

The World Cup, hosted in Liverpool, begins on Friday 12th July, comprising 60 matches over 10 days, with the final being played on 21st July. There are sixteen teams selected through a mixture of International Netball Federation (INF) world rankings and qualifying tournaments. England automatically qualified as the home nation, and are currently ranked as 3rd  in the world. The five top ranked teams in the world also gained automatic qualification; Australia (1st), Jamaica (2nd), New Zealand (4th), South Africa (5th), and Malawi (although they have now dropped to 9th in the rankings as of June 2019). The remaining places were finalised via regional qualifier events throughout 2018 with the top two teams from each INF region securing places; Africa (Uganda and Zimbabwe), Americas (Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados), Asia (Sri Lanka and Singapore), Europe (Northern Ireland and Scotland) and Oceania (Fiji and Samoa). Unfortunately, this resulted in Wales, currently 12th in the World rankings, failing to qualify.

The timing of this World Cup on home soil couldn’t have been better for England Netball, with the sport reaching new heights in England, both at participation and performance level.  In 2016 funding ensured 14 players entered a full-time athlete agreement, rising to 21 players being awarded full-time contracts in 2018-19. Sky Sports coverage has continued to grow since 2006, broadcasting the Vitality Netball Super league every season, with every World Cup game live across Sky Sports platforms. The BBC, on which 1.5 million people watched the England Roses Commonwealth victory against Australia, continues to support netball by also broadcasting the World Cup games across its TV and digital channels. Elite success and increased media coverage  has also impacted the sport at grassroots level with participation figures rising year on year, due to the huge success of the Back to Netball, Walking Netball and Bee Netball campaigns, encouraging participation in women of all ages and abilities, with over a million women playing netball each week.

Even at elite level there is a mix of age and experience amongst the Roses. England’s most experienced player is centre/wing defence Jade Clarke, aged 35, boasting 161 caps, with Geva Mentor, one of the most prolific goal keepers in the world, aged 34, also adding a wealth of international experience with 138 capsSix other members of England’s historic gold-medal winning Commonwealth Games team also make the world cup squad; Eboni Usoro-Brown, Joanne Harten, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Chelsea Pitman and of course Helen Housby, who scored the winning goal. Rachel Dunn missed out on the Commonwealth Games but at 36 years old and with 86 caps, and two previous world cups under her belt, adds experience to the shooting circle. Tracy Neville, the England manager, has made some bold decisions leaving the Corbin sisters out of the final squad, as well as previous captain Ama Agbeze. Instead, youth has been injected into defence with Fran Williams, aged 21 and Layla Guscoth , age 27, both playing in their first major tournament along with centre court player Natalie Panagarry, aged 28.

The exclusion of such talented players illustrates the depth of the England squad and undoubtedly funding for full-time contracts has contributed to this and is to be celebrated. However, for those players with established careers the disruption of committing to netball full-time can be difficult to navigate and two of the Roses squad opted out of full-time netball to maintain their careers. 31-year-old Eboni Usoro-Brown works as a trainee solicitor at Mogers Drewett around her netball commitments for Team Bath and England. Likewise, Rachel Dunn, age 36, continues to balance both domestic and international netball as well as a career as a genetic scientist:

I came up in an era when there wasn’t a full-time programme available. You had to have a job, otherwise you wouldn’t survive. And there are still a lot of Superleague players now who are in that situation. We do still need more funding”.

The stories of Usuro-Brown and Dunn illustrate the importance of receiving full-time contracts early on in players careers and the difficulties that can arise if offered later, when alternative careers with perhaps greater longevity have been worked for and established. It is clear to see the impact of full-time funding on the depth and strength of the England squad and so with England Netball admitting that funding will be difficult past 2019 there is so much to play for at this World Cup to keep the netball dream alive for England’s future Roses.

Be Ready for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019!

By Helen Owton

On Friday 7th June 2019, France will host the 8th edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Lyon is recognised as a city where sport is hugely popular putting football on the very highest pedestal which is an ideal location because the convenient time zone to attract large audiences means that women’s football could hit even greater global heights of popularity. The hosts kick off the tournament against South Korea at the Parc de Princes (Paris) at 20:00 UK time. A total of 24 teams qualified for the tournament with the hosts being sorted into a group they are expected to win.

If you thought the FIFA WWC in Canada in 2015 and EURO 2017 was exciting Joey Peters says that this year, “…a new level of tactical sophistication is expected to evolve this tournament – not so much the tempo of the game but more how each team connects, adapts and thrives in such a pressure pot atmosphere.” (Joey Peters, 2019).

The Groups

Image

Locations

Since the FIFA World Cup in 2015 which was hosted in Canada, women’s football has grown in popularity, visibility with the recognition of the ever-increasing reputation on women’s football. Parc des Princes, home of Paris Saint-Germain, is the fifth largest stadium in France with the capacity of 48,583 but one its oldest and hosted matches in the 1998 men’s World Cup. It is one of nine venues where 52 matches will be held:  the Stade du Hainaut in Valenciennes, the Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims, the Stade des Alpes in Grenoble, Roazhon Park in Rennes, the Stade de la Mosson in Montpellier, the Allianz Riviera in Nice, the Stade Oceane in Le Havre. The final of the women’s world cup will be played at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon on 7th July which seats 59,186.

Image

Dare to Shine

The motto behind the FIFA Women’s World Cup is “Dare to Shine” which is a message spread by the official mascot Ettie and embodied by the official emblem. Ettie’s name comes from the French word for star, étoile and links the passing on of the bright star from Footix, the brother mascot from the 1998 FIFA Men’s World Cup. The message is that:

Her enthusiasm for women’s football is contagious and she hopes to radiate her sense of fair play and passion for the game around the world and to inspire national pride in France as the host country for the competition.”

Media coverage

With the increasing popularity of women’s football in the UK, there is exciting anticipation that the women’s world cup is set to break new viewing records with the hope that a billion people will tune in.  BBC have exclusive broadcasting rights for this year’s WWC and will be showing the games on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four, and the BBC Red Button and website. All the of the England games will be shown on BBC One and the schedule is available here.

Scotland

This year the FIFA WWC welcomes four newcomers to the tournament: Scotland, South Africa, Jamaica, and Chile. Scotland are ranked 20th in the world and their opening game is set to be an exciting one as they will be playing England in Nice on 9th June. This is the second major tournament that Scotland have qualified for after qualifying for Euro 2017. However, their new manager, Shelley Kerr, has a squad filled with Women’s Super League players and if they can avoid injuries “Scotland could be a surprise package in France” (Suzanne Wrack, 2019). Whilst Kim Little is Scotland’s star player, look out for the duo “Lime” and “Soda” on the team as well! Given this and their 1-0 defeat over Brazil (ranked 10th), England should not underestimate them.

Favourites

France (ranked 4th) are the favourites to win their group and progress to the knockout rounds and are among the favourites to win the whole tournament. They have a home advantage which we saw benefit Netherlands in EURO 2017 and their performances at previous world cups has seen them through to the quarter finals each time. This year, they enter the tournament having lost only 2 games so with the home advantage, a relatively easy group stage, and their winning performances so far Les Bleues are one of the favourites to win. Germany (ranked 2nd in the world) also enter the tournament with a strong winning streak of 13 along with twice Champions in 2003 and 2007. Germany have dominated the UEFA tournament wince winning in 1989 with an impressive 8 times Champions and only lost to USA 2-0 in the FIFA WWC semi-finals in 2015 so they are always ones to watch! Indeed, previous Champions include Japan (2011), Norway (1995), and the United States (1991, 1999, 2015) and as current holders, USA are another favourite to win again given that they have managed to finish at least third at a World Cup. As current European Champions, Netherlands are also among the favourites. Being a previous champion does not always make you a favourite, however, as Norway demonstrate this year entering the competition.

England

Many of us still remember England (ranked 3rd) making history in 2015, by beating Germany for an extremely well-deserved bronze medal at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015. Many of the players demonstrate resilience as a team and have become a team of female role models and an inspiration to a younger generation. Since 2015, the team has not been without controversy but has been building on their success with their new manager. The country is ready to get behind the team again and you will see many familiar names and faces with Steph Houghton as Captain and Jill Scott and Karen Carney making their 4th World Cup. Also, we welcome rising stars to the field including Georgia Stanway (20yr old) who is “England’s youngest player has the potential to be an X-factor.”

Be ready to back England again!

Players to watch

There are a wide range of ages playing at this year’s FIFA WWC so I am going to be watching both the youngest and the oldest players in the tournament. Mary Fowler, Australia, is just 16yrs old and is labelled as Australia’s ‘secret weapon’ but many have questioned whether she will be able to step up to an international field and cope with the pressure. Paired with their Captain and top goalscorer Sam Kerr could prove an exciting and unknown development on the field which could surprise opponents. 25yrs older is Marta Formiga at 41yrs of age who plays for Brazil and will become the first footballer to participate in seven world cups, surpassing Onome Ebi’s five world cups at the age of 36yrs old. It will be interesting to watch how age and experience play out on the field.

A Platform for change

The Women’s World Cup is a phenomenal global event that everyone can enjoy but it is also deemed as a platform for change like many other sports. Germany’s WWC advert has used the opportunity to create a video focusing on a “strong message of female empowerment and push for equality”.

Additionally, Lucy Bronze (Lyon) who will be on familiar ground in France has used the opportunity to discuss how more could be done for women’s football by addressing the pay gaps that still exist.  The existing gender pay in football is a stark and unexplanable gap and is the widest compared to other industries (e.g. politics, space, medicine) so it is really about time that FIFA addressed this inequality.

The more opportunities that are created for discussion the more that can be done to create change and indeed many of the women at the FIFA WWC are the change but now they just need that paid recognition.

Key Dates

  • First game starts: 7th June 2019 – France vs South Korea 8pm
  • England vs Scotland Sunday 9th June at 17:00 in Nice
  • How well do you know England & Scotland players: QUIZ
  • Fixtures: https://www.fifa.com/womensworldcup/
  • Final is on 7 July 2019

Free Badged Open Courses in Sport & Fitness

In addition to our undergraduate qualifications we offer a large range of free courses and educational resources, including our suite of Badged Open Courses (BOCs).

These BOCs allow you to earn an Open University digital badge for each course you successfully complete. The badge can be displayed, shared and downloaded as a marker of your achievement and so they are perfect for continuing professional development (CPD) purposes. And they are free!

Each BOC comprises 24 hours of learning spread across 8 sessions which you can study at your own pace. We currently have five sport and fitness related BOCs:

(1) Exploring sport coaching and psychology

Have you experience of sport or fitness coaching either as a participant or a coach? Are you inquisitive about how sport works behind the scenes? n this course you will explore the influence of coaching and psychology through the lens of sports people and teams who have been successful. You will focus on coaching practices used with young people and adults, including research and advice of leaders in their fields.

Content:

  1. Exploring sporting success
  2. Coaching children: fun and friendships
  3. Guiding teenagers towards success and life
  4. Comparing international level coaches
  5. Attitudes towards learning
  6. Psychological skills for life
  7. A fresh look at coaching
  8. The future of coaching

Author: Professor Ben Oakley

(2) Exploring communication and working relationships in sport

Are you experienced in sport or fitness, either as a participant or working in the sector, perhaps as a coach? Are you inquisitive about some of the hidden ‘people skills’ that seemingly make some people particularly credible in their role? In this course, you will boost your ability to vary your communication approach according to the situation and the needs of the people involved.

Content:

  1. The purposes of communication
  2. Getting your message across
  3. How can you enhance relationships?
  4. Connecting with others
  5. Becoming more influential
  6. When does harsh feedback become bullying?
  7. Power and the communication process
  8. Topical aspects of communication

Author: Professor Ben Oakley

(3) Coaching others to coach

Are you responsible for helping coaches to learn and develop? Do you consider yourself a coach developer, a coach educator, mentor, tutor or somebody who just wants to support coaches and enable them to become the best coach they can be? This course is designed to support people like you. It is a course dedicated to developing the people who develop the coaches.

Content:

  1. What do coach developers do?
  2. How do coaches learn?
  3. How do you build effective learning relationships?
  4. Developing your coach developer self-awareness
  5. Your teaching repertoire
  6. Asking good questions
  7. Effective observations and feedback
  8. Coach development for the digital age

Author: Dr Alex Twitchen

(4) Exploring the psychological aspects of sport injury

Sport injury is relatively common among sport and exercise participants, and while the physical impact of injury is often easy to recognise, the psychological impact is often less understood. In this course you will examine the relationship between injury and psychological factors, looking at the link between injury and psychology at two distinct points – before an injury has occurred and then following an injury.

Content:

  1. Sport injury and psychology – what’s the link?
  2. A holistic approach to sport injury
  3. Can psychological factors increase the risk of injury?
  4. What psychological interventions can be used to prevent sport injury?
  5. Psychological responses to sport injury
  6. What impact can psychological responses to injury have?
  7. Sport injury treatment: how can imagery, self-talk and relaxation help?
  8. Sport injury treatment: how can goal-setting and social support help?

Author: Dr Caroline Heaney

(5) Learning from burnout and overtraining

Have you experience of sport or fitness training either as a participant, coach or a parent supporting your child? Are you inquisitive about the impact of committed involvement in sport or exercise training on the individual? In this course you will explore a number of examples of sports people who have thrived and those who have experienced burnout. By exploring burnout you will gain a deeper understanding of the physical and mental aspects of sport such as athletic identity, overtraining and perfectionism.

Content:

  1. What is burnout?
  2. Perspectives of burnout
  3. Exploring identity and overtraining
  4. Insights into overtraining
  5. What role does motivation and perfectionism play?
  6. Coaches and burnout
  7. Managing those on a burnout path
  8. Strategies to reduce burnout

Author: Professor Ben Oakley

 

 

Click on the image below to download a flyer summarising all of our BOCs.

Why racism is still only being shown a yellow card

By Rojo Warriors – John Dougal, Gavin Dunlop, Okito Gonzales, Conor Langford and Jamie Morrison (E119 18J Students)


This blog was written as part of a collaborative team work task by students studying E119. They had to select a topic and then decide on what roles each person would perform in the team, such as researcher, writer, editor and leader. This blog was chosen as one of the best blogs from around 80 blogs that were produced.


I instantly felt uncomfortable. The moment I walked into one of Europe’s grandest theatres, I looked up to my right, a normal man, someone’s Father, Grandfather, Brother, was casually unfurling a huge flag. Yes, this is a common sight in any football stadium, however, it was what was on the flag that was disturbing, stopping me dead in my tracks. A huge image of The Wehrmacht Eagle (Nazi Imperial Eagle) Symbol appeared before me. Little did I know this was only the start of my ‘experience.’

Photo by Liam McKay on Unsplash

The setting was Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, where The Derby della Capitale (AS Roma v Lazio) was about to take place. An image of Lazio’s most famous fan, Benito Mussolini covered the away section, while chants of ‘Seig Heil’ rang around the sea of straight-armed saluting ‘fans’. This place made an Old Firm game look like a tea party. Disgusted by what I was seeing, I somehow managed to ignore it, what I could not ignore happened with just 10 minutes to go in the game. Roma’s Brazilian defender, Juan, received the ball, when all of a sudden a deafening sound of monkey chants erupted from the Lazio fans, the next time he got the ball, five to ten inflatable bananas appeared with grown men impersonating monkeys. What struck me was there were sections of people looking at us in disgust and judging us for not joining in, as if we were in the wrong. What I could not believe was, the next day, not a thing in the newspapers about it, nothing on the news channels, it was just accepted this is what happens.

That was back in 2011, fast forward seven years and nothing seems to have improved. Boxing Day 2018, Inter host Napoli in Milan in what should be a celebration of Italian football, between two of the country’s most entertaining teams. However, what followed put a massive stain on the league. Throughout what was the stand out Christmas fixture, sections of the Inter crowd inflicted sustained racial abuse on Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, with the Senegal International visibly upset throughout the game in which he was ultimately sent off.

How was this ordeal dealt with? The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) have ignored criticism and upheld a two-match ban for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly for a red card in the game in Milan on Wednesday when he was subjected to racist monkey chants from the Inter fans (Wallace, 2018a). On top of that Inter Milan have been ordered to play their next two Serie A games behind closed doors, and close part of the stadium for one further game following racial abuse aimed at Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly on Boxing Day (Gladwell, 2018). It is hardly a strong stance in stamping out racism, is it? It is merely a slap on the wrists. How do you explain to young kids watching at home, when they ask, “Why is there no fans in the stadium?” or they ask why they cannot go to watch their heroes because of a fan ban? Perhaps they should take heed of Napoli head coach Carlo Ancelotti who demanded the game be called off. “Despite our requests, the game wasn’t suspended. I think it should have been. Next time we’ll stop playing ourselves” (Wallace, 2018b).

Despite having a terrible reputation It’s not just in Italy of course. No country is free of racism – as was demonstrated by the banana skin thrown during the recent north London derby, and the reports of anti-Semitic chanting by Chelsea fans in December (Jones, 2018). The problem of racism in the UK seems to have been highlighted once again with several incidents so far during the 2018/19 season.

Former Liverpool and England star John Barnes recently commented; “The very fact that a real banana skin came on and there was real abuse doesn’t surprise me at all. I just thought it was to be expected” (Independent, 2018)

The fact that Barnes “expected” this sort of behaviour is rather alarming, and suggests that more needs to be done out with football too, to educate society from a young age. Nobody is born racist so they must learn it and pick it up from somewhere, as the recently surfaced very disturbing video of the young Millwall ‘fan’ shows. (Unbelievable! Millwall Racist Woman Teaching a KID To Chant, 2019)

In the UK, the Show Racism the Red Card, an educational charity, was launched in January 1996. The Kick It Out organisation was launched three years earlier. What is worrying is that over 25 years later the problem is still there. With Statistics from Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation, reveal an increase in reports for the sixth consecutive year. Racism constituted 53% of them during the 2017/18 season, a rise of 22% from the previous year (Kick It Out, 2018).

With these campaigns in place, why are the stats still rising?
The simple fact is that more needs to be done. It is all very well having these campaigns such as Nike’s ‘Stand Up Speak Up’ campaign that launched in 2005, which received strong criticism from certain players. Gary Neville has criticised Nike for looking to gain commercial advantage from football’s latest anti-racism campaign (The Telegraph, 2005). The criticism comes as Nike were selling black and white wristbands which became more of a must-have fashion accessory rather than a tool to promote standing up against racism.

It is all very well closing stadiums, fining clubs or arresting people, the fact is, it is clearly not working. I feel anti-racism education should be on school curriculums so children are educated from an early age. I also believe the only way to stop it happening now is to go back to what Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti suggested and players simply walk off the park with the game being postponed, that would soon stop these so-called ‘fans’ disgusting behaviour. Finally, I feel the police and clubs should work together to name and shame the people that are guilty of these crimes, ensuring their family and employers are aware of their actions. We need to stop giving racism the yellow card and once and for all show it the red card.

Reference List

Gladwell. B. (2018) ‘Inter Milan given two match stadium closure after Koulibaly monkey chants’, ESPN, 27 December 2018 [Online]. Available at http://www.espn.co.uk/soccer/napoli/story/3737523/inter-milan-given-two-match-stadium-closure-after-koulibaly-monkey-chants (Accessed at 26 January 2019)

Independent (2018) ‘Raheem Sterling Chelsea abuse: Invisible banana skins thrown at black people every day, says John Barnes’, Independent, 11 December 2018 [Online]. Available at https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/news-and-comment/raheem-sterling-chelsea-abuse-racism-news-video-twitter-instagram-racist-statement-john-barnes-a8677516.html (Accessed 26 January 2019)

Jones, T. (2018) ‘Fascism is thriving again in Italy, – and finding it’s home on the terraces’, The

Guardian, 29 December [Online]. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/29/fascism-italy-racist-abuse-kalidou-koulibaly-italian-football (Accessed at 26 January 2019)

Kick It Out (2018), Available at https://www.kickitout.org/Pages/FAQs/Category/reporting-statistics (Accessed 26 January 2018)

Sky Sports (2018) ‘Chelsea suspend four supporters over alleged Raheem Sterling abuse’, Sky Sports, 11 December 2018 [Online]. Available at https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11668/11577275/chelsea-suspend-four-supporters-over-alleged-raheem-sterling-abuse

The Telegrapgh (2005) ‘Neville attacks Nike PR’, The Telegraph, 10 February 2005 [Online]. Available at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/2355144/Neville-attacks-Nike-PR.html (Accessed 27 January 2019)

Unbelievable! Millwall Racist Woman Teaching a KID To Chant, (2019) YouTube video, added by Team PKO [Online]. Available at https://youtu.be/HmaqX4p0yYM (Accessed 28 January 2019) WARNING Very disturbing language.

Wallace, S (2018a) ‘Kalidou Koulibaly given two-match ban despite being subject to racist monkey chants’, The Telegraph, 27 December 2018 [Online]. Available at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/football/2018/12/27/carlo-ancelotti-says-inter-milan-napoli-should-have-stopped/amp/ (Accessed at 27 January 2019)

On the Ropes: Depression in Boxing

By Inspire team – Corey Johnson, Joseph Bolton, Darcy Skelton and Gavin Macdonald (E119 18J Students)


This blog was written as part of a collaborative team work task by students studying E119. They had to select a topic and then decide on what roles each person would perform in the team, such as researcher, writer, editor and leader. This blog was chosen as one of the four best blogs from around 80 blogs that were produced.


Boxing. The ‘Sweet Science’ of sport. It is often regarded as a macho man’s profession in which there is no place for the weak. However, having said that, in the modern day it is now becoming more prominent that boxers are suffering from inner, more personal fights of their own – Depression.

Sharkey and Gaskill (2013, p. 35) state that depression can be characterised as a collective of having low self esteem, as well as a sense of hopelessness and never ending despair. One man as of late within boxing who has suffered from such an ordeal is former WBA (Super), WBF, IBF and IBO World Heavyweight Champion, ‘The Gypsy King’, Tyson Fury.

Recently, within the past year, Tyson Fury has been incredibly open about his ordeal with depression in the hope to educate others. He was the man who had it all – fame, money and a healthy family – but he also had his demons. When appearing on the Joe Rogan Podcast (How Tyson Fury Bounced Back From Depression & Addiction, JRE MMA Show #47 with Tyson Fury, 2018), Tyson recollected a story in which he was driving towards a bridge at 190mph in a convertible Ferrari which he had only recently just bought (Blair, 2018).

He stated, “I didn’t care about nothing, I just wanted to die so bad. I gave up on life but as I was heading to the bridge I heard a voice saying, ‘No, don’t do this Tyson, think about your kids, your family, your sons and daughter growing up without a dad.”

It was at that moment Tyson decided that he needed to change not just for himself but for his family. The voice that had been putting him down throughout the years had suddenly switched and become the voice for change, to get his life back on track. In the years that followed he overcame many obstacles including battles against substance abuse, weight problems and against boxing authorities to obtain a boxing license.

His appearance on the podcast was to promote his major comeback fight against American Heavyweight boxer Deontay Wilder but it became something much more. Following the appearance he became the people’s champion and an advocate for mental health. Fury’s status grew furthermore after the fight against Wilder when he credited his renewed faith amongst other factors for his successful battle against his ill mental health.

Tyson Fury is a big name in the sports world who was affected by ill mental health. One boxer who was willing to talk to us about mental health in boxing was Team GB’s Lewis Richardson. In an interview with him he stated that;

“Mental health is neglected in boxing due to the image of the sport. Everyone see’s boxing being a macho sport and you have to be physical strong and fit however it is mentally tough”

Here, it is quite evident that due to the perception that modern day society has of boxing, issue such as depression and ill mental health are often overlooked. A lot of people don’t truly understand what elite athletes like Lewis has to go through.

He went on to say, “Mental health issues can come into play particularly with big and pressure fights, as you go to bed thinking about your opponent and that fight is always on your mind until the fight is over.”

From this you can see that fighters at any level can often put themselves into a negative cycle and frame of mind due to the obsession of the opposing boxer. The one thing on their minds is the fight, how can they combat their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses to better their own chances of a victory.

He later added, “Pressure of making weight, pressure of winning, pressure of performing at training and afraid of losing are all factors that could affect mental health in boxers as it is business and the pressure on them is extortionate.”

One key issue that could influence a negative episode could be the hype of positivity which ends up in negativity due to losing a fight or due to an injury in training. All these factors actually coincide with what Tyson Fury had to say himself. It is interesting to say that both boxers, who are going down two very different paths, both share similar beliefs in regards to such important matters.

Various studies show that depression effects one in every four people within the UK. Also, suicide as a result of depression is the biggest killer in males under the age of 45. The male to female ratio of death by suicide is 3:1, which is an alarming observation which needs to be addressed (Gigney, 2017). This is often the case due to the stigma surrounding men suffering from ill mental health and the lack of acceptance of the issue by the man himself.

In regards to sport, this issue is often escalated. This belief is supported by Sports Psychologist Dr Caroline Silby (Gigney, 2017) who, in an interview with Boxing World, states that;

“Elite athletes have a difficult time accepting emotional struggles and seeking assistance. However, once they do seek assistance they often apply their sports work ethic to their emotional recovery, making progress more likely.”

This statement is backed up by Tyson Fury himself who decided the best to overcome his struggles was to box along is long journey of recovery. He openly admits that he still has his off-days in which he has some negatives thought but that is a fairly normal for somebody going through these issues.

Depression can take effect on anybody, no matter how big or small a person is. Boxing proves this, these elite athletes who are stereotyped to be ‘macho men’ can be brought down to rock bottom as a result of depression. However, one thing to remember is that if you, the reader, are going through a battle like this then you too can overcome it with the correct support.

Links for information on Mental Health support

NHS – https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/mental-health-services/how-to-access-mental-health-services/

Time to change – https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/mental-health-and-stigma/help-and-support

Mind – https://www.mind.org.uk/about-us/our-policy-work/sport-physical-activity-and-mental-health/

Reference list

Blair, A. (2018) Tyson Fury opens up on depression, boxing career and Deontay Wilder fight [Online]. Available at https://www.news.com.au/sport/boxing/tyson-fury-opens-up-on-depression-boxing-career-and-deontay-wilder-fight/news-story/54479d963a55b8da9c5ede2f86660f42 (Accessed on 29/01/2019).

 Gigney, G. (2017) LONG READ Boxing needs to address its mental health problem [Online]. Available at http://www.boxingnewsonline.net/long-read-boxing-needs-to-address-its-mental-health-problem/ (Accessed on 29/01/2019).

Joe Rogan – How Tyson Fury Bounced Back From Depression & Addiction (25/10/2018) YouTube video, added by JRE Clips [Online]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrM6WqYEj9Y (Accessed on 29/01/2019).

JRE MMA Show #47 with Tyson Fury (25/10/2018) YouTube video, added by PowerfulJRE [Online]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNZtibrPo0g (Accessed on 29/01/2019).

Sharkey, B. and Gaskill, S. (2013) Fitness and Health (7th edn). Leeds, Human Kinetics.

The Dark-side of the Paralympics

By The Spartans – Jonathon Ingham, George Robinson, Harry Katsanikakis and Eve Williams (E119 18J Students)


This blog was written as part of a collaborative team work task by students studying E119. They had to select a topic and then decide on what roles each person would perform in the team, such as researcher, writer, editor and leader. This blog was chosen as one of the four best blogs from around 80 blogs that were produced.


Every four years the Paralympic games are hosted as a parallel to the Olympics. This paramount international multi-sport event has become the largest single sporting movement globally, full of numerous inspirational, admirable athletes, leading to an emotional para-sport. As the Paralympian’s have a vast range of disabilities, from impaired muscle power such as muscular dystrophy, to limb deficiencies caused by amputations, the need for characterisations is crucial. However, these classifications are of high-priority, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) (2014) illustrates the worry of predictable competition, in which the most able athlete always wins. Hence, the division of para-athletes into ‘sport classes’, established upon their impairment, preventing such concerns.

What is the classification system?

Any Paralympian has a competitive disadvantage when it comes to sport. Hence the classification system. The system allows for the division of para-athletes into their correlative sporting groups, identifying the severity of their impairments. The intention of the classification system is to decrease the impact of individual physical impairments on the overall sports performance, identifying the athletes according to their limitations in a certain sport. The athlete’s fitness, skill, power, ability, focus and tactical ability are now relatively proportional to their competitors, ensuring for equal chance at success, with fair qualifying. Athlete’s performance is dependent on the sport, each sport requires performance of different activities. Consequently, the impact on impairments differs, for classification to minimise the effect on sporting performance classification must be specific (IPC, 2014).

However, the Paralympics permits the observer ignorance, watching from behind a tv or, if lucky enough, the stadium, yet it’s not so innocent. The precise classification process allows exploitation, the IPC warned the BBC (2017) of intentional misrepresentation – athletes bluffing, pretending to have a graver disability with the hope to compete in favourable classes. Paralympian’s described the process of more able-bodied athletes being put into the same categories as severely disabled athletes, with the intention to win by cheating. In the words of hand cyclist Liz McTernan (2017) “we’re not all inspiring, we’re not all ethical”, faking disability is no different to doping.

Blood tests confirm the miss use of drugs, unfortunately, the ability to prove such impairment cheats is not so simple, with no definite way to verify allegations. Despite this, Van de Vliet (2017), the IPCs medical and scientific director, as well as head of classifications, has reassured specific athletes are monitored, with the view to identify consistent manifestation during performances, on-going investigations, with some cases being processed by external legal counsels.

What are the Dirty Tactics?

Further investigations, such as that by the BBC (2017) uncovered the ‘dirty tactics’, manipulating the classification system. Allegedly, schemes were employed by both athletes and coaches.

  • The taping of arms. Swimmers spend days with arms strapped, the tape being removed just before classification, full extension of the limb is now unachievable.
  • Taking cold showers. A swimmer with Cerebral Palsy is submerged into a cold environment, further worsening their already weak muscle tone, or
  • The shortening and removal of limbs. Operations being held with the bid to physically distort athletes, when questioned some athletes described “advance in career”.
  • Athletes using wheelchairs solely for classification, no other time is such equipment used.
  • “Boosting”. Explained by Carpenter (2012) as intentionally increasing blood pressure stimulating the body’s energy and endurance, consequently allowing Paralympian’s to enhance their levels of performance artificially.
  • Classifiers are coaches. Specific to an athlete’s sport, coaches fake the severity of their Paralympian’s disability.

These modern tricks are now described as the para-equivalent to doping. The classification process being criticised due to sport class expansion, allowing less impaired athletes to compete against extreme cases. The classification controversy is with hope to increase medal chances, and sponsorship. Accusations of intimidation and bullying are also present, many athletes are afraid to speak out, fearful they will not be selected for the sport they love (Grey-Thompson, 2017). Cheating in the Paralympics is proof athletes are prepared to go to extreme lengths to stand on the podium.

What does this mean for future Paralympian’s?

Ultimately, the Paralympics is a means of enjoyment, internationally inspiring various social groups proving the impossible is possible. If only this viewpoint was enough to end cheating, unfortunately not.

Ongoing investigations into the Paralympian classification systems, as well as several inquiries into sporting governance are all with the intention to prevent deception. Eriksson, head coach at the Paralympics GB Team 2012, states classifiers are ‘doing the best they can’ (2017). Although, elaborates on the belief the process pinpointing the lies requires an independent organisation, comparable to the World Anti-Doping Agency, using drugs in sport and the means of prevention as guidance.

Strong evidence is a must, confirming cheats is a sensitive issue, for this reason there’s a demand for a powerful case. Paralympic cheating needs to be tackled, tougher punishment, strong repercussions, the same penalties for doping infractions. The hope independent organisations attack the frauds, depleting dishonesty and lies, allowing for less questionable classification to occur.

References

Carpenter, K – Law in Sport (2012). [Online] Available at: https://www.lawinsport.com/blog/kevin-carpenter/item/the-dark-side-of-the-paralympics-cheating-through-boosting

Peter Eriksson – I’m handing back my medal’, a Paralympic study (2017). [Online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/disability-sport/41851149

Grey-Thompson, T – I’m handing back my medal’, a Paralympic study (2017). [Online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/disability-sport/41851149

Grant, P – I’m handing back my medal’, a Paralympic study (2017). [Online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/disability-sport/41253174

The International Paralympic Committee, Official website of the Paralympic Movement (2014). [Online] Available at: https://www.paralympic.org/classification

The Week – Paralympics: ‘Faking disability is no different to doping’ (2017). [Online] Available at: https://www.theweek.co.uk/paralympics/88468/paralympics-faking-disability-is-no-different-to-doping

Van de Vliet, P. – ‘I’m handing back my medal’, a Paralympic study (2017). [Online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/disability-sport/41253174