Loughborough Alumni

Our alumni

Jack Sharkey

Lead Sports Scientist: Aston Villa FC

Jack graduated with a degree in Exercise Physiology in 2012. Following his studies, Jack embarked on a career as a Sports Scientist, with his current role being at Aston Villa FC.

Why did you choose to study at Loughborough University?

I chose to study at Loughborough University due to its reputation and ranking as the best University in the world for the study of Sport, Exercise, and Health Sciences. I knew that by attending Loughborough I would be taught by leading experts in the field of Sport Science. I would also be able to gain access to some of the best laboratories in the country, become familiar with the latest training and testing equipment, as well as study and connect with top athletes and students in the field.

How has Loughborough University inspired you and helped you to progress in your career?

Loughborough University is synonymous with world class athletes, coaches and support staff, so as a graduate of Exercise Physiology, I felt there was a reputation to uphold following graduation. It is this reputation and expectation that inspires me to continue to set high standards for myself in the way I conduct myself, and to work hard to ensure the work I do with athletes is helping them develop.

Would there be one piece of advice that you would give to current or prospective students looking to study the same course that you did?

I would encourage current and prospective students to fully immerse themselves in the opportunities and activities the university have to offer. It is also important to think outside the box and gain experience through ways not immediately evident at the time. For instance, during my studies I worked closely with a fellow student on my course who was an aspiring athlete involved with British Cycling. I found being involved in their preparation for the Olympics and helping with their Strength and Conditioning work rewarding and educational.

Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities during your studies? If so, how did this impact upon your Loughborough experience?

During my studies I took part in an internship programme with the Nike Football Academy that was on offer through the university at the time. This allowed me the opportunity to put into practice the theory I had learnt in the classroom into an applied setting. This opportunity acted as the starting point in my career of working in professional football.

Can you tell us about your career journey so far?

I have worked in professional football for several years now, and I have been lucky enough to have worked in all four professional leagues.

Following an internship with the Nike Football Academy, I began my career at Burton Albion Football Club as First Team Sport Scientist. As I was the first Sport Scientist in the club’s history, it allowed me to create a sport science support structure from scratch.

After four seasons and back to back promotions into the Championship, I moved to Queens Park Rangers FC as First Team Sport Scientist, which is where I began to understand how a larger multi-departmental support team operates.

Following this I moved to Aston Villa FC as Lead Sport Scientist and into the position I currently work. Following last season’s promotion into the Premier League I am in a fortunate position to say I have worked in and been involved in a promotion from every league.

What does your current job involve on a day-to-day basis?

My duties at Aston Villa Football club are to provide a beneficial Sport Science support structure for the players and staff that will ultimately enhance the athletic development of the players throughout the season and produce less injury prone footballers. These responsibilities encompass monitoring training loads, physiological assessments, conditioning programmes, and recovery strategies committed to helping every player in the squad perform at their best.

What’s it like to work for a Premier League team?

Working in the Premier League has been a lifelong ambition. The grounds you visit, the teams and players you come up against, and the players you work with make every training session and match feel like a privilege to be involved with.

What would you say to someone who is interested in pursuing sports science?

For anyone pursuing a career in Sport Science, make sure you gain experience through an internship or work placement at the start of your career. Working as a Sport Scientist can be incredibly demanding and its important you have an understanding on these demands before committing yourself to making it a full-time career. After these experiences, if it is something you wish to pursue, then stick with it. Working in sport is inherently turbulent and success is rarely plane sailing. But with perseverance, hard work, and an eagerness to better yourself it can be an extremely rewarding position.

What do you love the most about your job and what does the future hold?

The aspect I love most about the job is the strategic process of improving a players’ physical capabilities. From assessing the areas that need improvement, developing the plan of action, through to seeing performance improvements on the training pitch and during matches is what this job is all about for me. Looking toward the future I shall strive to help players compete at the top of their game and achieve their own ambitions as players.

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