Why Study Sports Science

Megan studied Sport Science at University of Salford which she says led her get her dream job at Burnley FC as 1st Team Women's Strength and Conditioning Coach. Here she shares her thoughts on her studies.

  • What course do you study and what year are you in?

2017- 2020. I did the Sport Science undergraduate degree, then specialised in Strength and Conditioning in the third year. 2020 -2021 Following on from the undergraduate course, I enrolled onto the postgraduate Strength and Conditioning taught degree.

  • Why did you choose to study at Salford? 

My teacher at college was a student at Salford doing the postgraduate Strength and Conditioning degree and he recommended the course to me. I came to the open day and met Steve Akins, he was the lecturer who took us round all the biomechanics and physiology labs and the strength and conditioning suite. In each room we were shown the research equipment the students and lecturers actively use in their research and within their teaching.

  •  What made you want to study your chosen course?

When I was in college, I did a fitness instructor course and was planning to become a personal trainer. But then I got experience in working with different types of people and I realised I preferred to work with athletes. It is more challenging, and most of the time nothing goes to plan so it keeps you on your toes all the time, especially in sport.

  •  Tell us a bit about your course and the modules you have studied

The Sport Science course is broad it gives you a taste of each element of sport. During the course I did physiology, psychology, biomechanics, strength and conditioning and a bit of performance analysis. During my final year I decided to choose psychology, biomechanics and strength and conditioning to focus on. I mainly picked these for the enjoyment of the modules but also because they were assessed via practical examination which suited my learning style. The courses are taught by people who also knew what it is like working with athletes, so they would give you a realistic approach as well as the ‘gold standard’ approach. During my postgraduate course, it went into more detail around the strength and conditioning, injury prevention, performance testing which is all extremely useful as a lot of this knowledge I have used in the job I’m currently in (Burnley 1st team Women’s Strength and Conditioning Coach)

  • How do you learn on the course?

Within my first year i attended a lecture where there was a particular guest speaker called Tony Strudwick, who was head of performance at Manchester United. After asking many questions and taking a keen interest in the human performance work he does, I was invited down to Carrington and was shown around the 1st training facilities and academy ground. This connection later led to a role at Salford City. Through Tony’s presentation he showed us the work that you do within an elite setting and what is involved. There were more insightful guest speakers such as Greg Haff who has published many research articles within strength and conditioning. He came and did a presentation on periodisation and how best to program athletes depending on the particular forces. During the course there are a lot of practical’s within the biomechanics laboratory and strength and conditioning suite, even more now with the 3g pitch that the university has. There are many more sessions created by the lecturers, and they make them realistic to the sector as a Sport Scientist or Strength and Conditioning coach.

  • Do you get involved in any other extracurricular activities in your spare time?

When I started university I joined the horse riding societies, I had ridden from a young age and life pulled me away from it so it was a perfect time for me to start riding again, this ended up being my down time away from university and working. When I was going into my second year I landed a volunteer role as a Strength and Conditioning Coach for Salford City lionesses when the club decided to create a women team. This role allowed me to grow as a coach and make mistakes by being thrown in the deep end. I loved the role and the club. After Salford I stated working with England Amputee national team a Sport Scientist/Strength and Conditioning Coach. I started this role mid way through the pandemic and during my postgraduate course. This was an amazing challenge as it got you to think outside the box, but it taught me to be adaptable in situations where you need to think on your feet. I would highly recommend anyone who wants to work with athletes to get experience working with para-athletes. During my time in both degrees I always volunteer in anyone and everyone research studies from undergraduate to PhD students. I did this to gain experience but also to learn from the people who specialise in a particular area.

  • What support is on hand for your studies? What are the teaching staff/technicians/school staff like?

The teaching staff are very, ‘what you see is what you get’. The staff are extremely helpful and supportive. I have gained a lot of support off them over the four years of being at Salford. Because I am highly dyslexic, they understand and have given me additional support if I’ve needed it.

  • What do you want to do once you’ve graduated and how does Salford / your course help with this?

The dream job is to work full time as a Strength and Conditioning Coach within sport. I suppose am halfway there by working part time for Burnley women’s 1st team. In addition to that I am in the process of revising for my national Strength and Conditioning Accreditation and my plan throughout this year and next year is to gain that qualification.

Megan Ratcliff
  • What would you say to someone thinking about studying Sport at Salford?

I would highly recommend Salford University. The lecturers are your network, they know and have taught a lot of students who work full time in sports and even PhD students. It’s a fantastic course to do and here, you are highly likely to succeed!