Author Archives: Caroline Heaney

Join our team: Lecturer in Sport and Fitness

Salary:  £41,526 – £49,553
Location: Milton Keynes
Reference: 17329
Closing date: 8th June 2020 (midday)

Note: This post is available as a full-time post or two 0.5 part-time posts.

We are seeking to appoint an enthusiastic Lecturer in Sport and Fitness to join our vibrant team and undertake responsibilities that include:

  • the development and delivery of Sport and Fitness modules and resources
  • writing and updating distance learning modules and resources, including print, audio, video and information/communications technology materials
  • contributing to the Faculty’s programme of research and scholarship and to the academic development of the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies at The Open University.

The successful candidate will have:

  • a higher degree or equivalent professional knowledge in Sport and Fitness or a related field as well
  • proven experience of curriculum development and course design
  • an understanding of different approaches to studying Sport and Fitness
  • evidence of engagement in research and scholarship through a variety of activities such as publications, gaining of external funding and/or widely recognised and disseminated contributions to learning and teaching in Sports and Fitness
  • a strong record of research and/or knowledge exchange that is commensurate to the position.

For more information click on the links below:

Job Description

Information about Sport and Fitness qualifications at The Open University

Information about the Sport and Fitness team at The Open University

Click here for more information and to apply

2020 Insight: do your recruitment and retention strategies need to change to suit a modern sport and physical activity workforce?

By Ben Oakley (The Open University) and Steve Mitchell (Sporting People)

Reproduced with permission of Sport England (image without words)

Central government (2015) and Sport England (2016, 2017 and 2018) have both indicated their desire to see more focus and funding invested into developing the sport and physical activity workforce. But what does this mean for your organisation and the people you employ now and in the future? This is particularly important if you are a public organisation or a club that is interested in receiving taxpayers’ or National Lottery funding beyond 2020. In this article we illustrate four examples of workforce development in action and consider what further transformation might look like. But first: why is change needed?

Figure 1 A timeline of main strategy announcements from Government (2015) and Sport England (2016-2018) indicating a direction of travel for policy and funding.

Why change?
Approximately 900,000 people are paid, many part-time, in supporting, or coaching, others in sport or physical activities (Sport England, 2018). They represent, in effect, a significant social movement. Yet, research suggests their approach to working with marginalised groups, and engaging inactive communities is often sub-optimal (e.g. London Sport, 2017).

The training of this workforce is also inconsistently delivered, assessed and benchmarked against other professions and regulated sectors. The CEO of Sport England suggests that claims about inactive groups being ‘hard to reach’ is unjust; the current approach of organisations to engage many inactive or marginalised communities has been poorly informed and executed.

Therefore, if we all agree to:

a) increase the number of physically active people we need to better prepare our ‘people’ by developing them with the skills and confidence to work towards this.

b) And, in order to maintain the confidence of the general public, and for the public health, justice and education sectors to invest in our work, we need to change how our learning and development operates. We need to demonstrate that our sector has sufficient quality development experiences to ensure safe practice that is both accessible to all and effective.
Some might say ‘our sport and people are just fine as they are’. Yes, we can continue the status quo but if you value public confidence and funding in our sector then keep reading to see some ideas you should be considering.

Four examples of recent people initiatives
These examples, with online links for further context, have emerged from organisations creating innovative solutions to workforce gaps or needs. To date there has been little coordinated sector effort … but there could be. Do any of these stimulate ideas relevant to your own organisation?

1. A National Governing Body (NGB)
Great Britain and England Hockey has transformed its coach training model to become better at developing appropriately skilled coaches. They have introduced a far wider coach development pathway involving many more specific and online development opportunities and built in more flexible assessment methods to support people to completion. The NGB’s consultation suggested courses “need to have maximum ‘pitch time’ and more online home study opportunities to allow for coaches to learn in their own time.” This has reduced the length and cost of courses, including travel costs.

2. A Community Activator Apprenticeship
Coach Core’s vision is that communities can benefit by having young relatable role models who could progress, not just their own life chances, but improve the lives of others around them too. They create a meaningful education and employment programme for 16-24 year olds funded through the Apprenticeship levy on larger businesses that was introduced in 2017. They focus on young people that need the opportunity the most in deprived inner-city communities and pay a wage during their Apprenticeship. This suggests that coaching related Apprenticeships are a valuable modern training option and pathway into sustainable employment.

3. Quality online coach learning and development
The Open University identified a need for new CPD learning for those that support and develop coaches; very little opportunities currently exist and promotion to the role is currently based on experience, rather than education. Using our expertise in coaching and distance education we launched a free online ‘Coaching others to coach’ course that has attracted 1900 participants in seven months. Learning that is open to all, 24/7, means people can learn at a time that suits them with a quality assured digital badge upon completion. Other CPD opportunities are being explored and the OU have also launched a similar, free ‘Communication and working relationships in sport and fitness’ course.

4. Active partnership: health professionals and leisure centres
Sport for Confidence programmes place health occupational therapists and specialist coaches into leisure centres, to provide inclusive sporting opportunities to people who face barriers to taking part. For instance, those with learning disabilities, mental health issues, dementia, autism or disability. The model works by using mainstream environments and delivery adjustments alongside breaking down barriers to ensure sport and physical activity is more accessible and can deliver occupational outcomes for public health and social care.

Final thoughts
Momentum is building with the Chartered Institute for the sector (CIMSPA) and UK Coaching refreshing quality standards for the sector and developing products to support coach development. In the future you need to be actively investing in your workforce, more so than at present. Perhaps it is timely to start to think about creating a ‘people developer’ role to prepare for the challenges ahead. But, for us, this far more than a coach education lead or HR specialist. How will these people developers be prepared for their important new role? Who has the insight on recruiting this talent and ensuring it is ready for the challenge?
We await feedback on this post and if there is interest, we may continue to write more on this intriguing topic. We think it is a puzzle to be solved in several ways.

References
London Sport, (2017) Bigger and Better Workforce Review, August 2017. Available from: https://data.londonsport.org/dataset/vdkjm/bigger-and-better-workforce-review.

Sport England, (2017) Working in an Active Nation: a Professional Workforce Strategy for England. Available from: https://sportengland-production-files.s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/working-in-an-active-nation-10-1.pdf

The Authors
Ben Oakley and OU colleagues, have developed online CPD provision for those who develop coaches along with resources for other groups.

Steve Mitchell
sits on an Active Partnership board and holds various Directorships across skills and training.

Meet some of our inspiring honorary graduates

Over the last few years we have been privileged to have a number of honorary graduates from the world of sport join #TeamOUsport

We thought it would be nice to share their inspirational words with you in the videos below.

Tony Wright, Milton Keynes Degree Ceremony, 1st November 2019

Judy Murray, Glasgow Degree Ceremony, 27th September 2019

Paul Sinton-Hewitt, 21st September 2019

Dame Sarah Storey, Manchester Degree Ceremony, 5th October 2018

Dame Katherine Grainger, London Degree Ceremony, Friday 21st September 2018

 

Symposium: We are writing the future

Following the success of our past annual conferences the next event in 2020 will be a symposium style focus on developing the people who develop coaches. Supporting these people is an important component in any coaching system, and this symposium provides an opportunity to discuss, debate and share ideas, thoughts and opinions about their future role. The symposium should be of interest to policy makers, system-builders, researchers, programme managers, coach developers, tutors, mentors and coach educators. It is a chance to explore, converse and contribute towards the future.

The symposium will be organised around a series of semi-structured conversational style workshops led by a ‘workshop guide’ which explore key themes, these are:

  1. Supporting coaches in virtual spaces and through digital technologies
  2. Creating professional recognition and qualifications for those who support learning and development in coaching – how, when and by whom?
  3. Educators or developers (or both?) – exploring how coach learning is supported by others.
  4. ‘Inside’ or ‘outside’ the system – in what spaces do those who support learning and development exist and where should the support of coaches take place.

 

The symposium is supported by Sport England and will contribute to the consultation for the next Coaching Plan.

 

 

Date: Wednesday 25th March 2020

Venue: The Open University, Milton Keynes

Booking details:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/sports-symposium-tickets-83967819007

However you support and learning and development of coaches this is an opportunity to explore the landscape and contribute to making it a better landscape. Please join us as we venture into the wilderness of coach development and endeavour to discover what has yet to be discovered.

#TeamOUSport Kit Launch!

We are delighted to announce that in association with Kitlocker we now have a range of Open University Sport and Fitness branded Nike kit and accessories available for staff and students. This can be purchased through the website below.

#TeamOUsport Kitlocker Store

 

We have introduced this kit to help our staff and student feel part of #TeamOUsport and develop our team identity. Open University Sport and Fitness Lecturer Dr Nichola Kentzer, who came up with the idea to develop this kit said:

 

“It’s important for students to have a strong sense of belonging to their university. The OU is such an amazing place and we want our students to really feel part of the Sport and Fitness team. Face to face universities encourage this sense of identity by having team kit, so why can’t we have this for our students too? Just because our students are geographically spread it doesn’t mean they can’t wear their OU kit with pride, showing others that they are part of the OU Sport and Fitness team. I can’t wait to see students sharing pictures of themselves working, training, studying and competing in their kit!”

 

 

Are you part of #TeamOUsport?

 

We would love to see pictures of you wearing your #TeamOUsport kit in a variety of locations so please share them with us on Twitter (@OU_Sport) using the hashtag #TeamOUsport

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.

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

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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.