Athletic Development Coach, Royal Grammar School High Wycombe
Whilst studying Sports and Exercise Science at Loughborough, Eddy got involved in a range of voluntary roles and undertook a placement with Loughborough Sport where he supported a number of performance programmes including Lightning Rugby, and Swimming. Eddy continued his journey within S&C into his final year as the lead S&C coach for BUCS Women's Rugby 1&2s, as well as an assistant S&C role at Leicester Tigers Academy.
Tell us a little bit about yourself (hobbies, interests and background):
Sport Billy at school… Rugby, Hockey for North of England, Athletics (Sprints) for English Schools. At about the age of 16, I started getting into gym training and doing some bits of PT, with family and family friends etc, just learning little bits online and having ago whilst sharing some bits with others. I also coached junior hockey and I quickly realised I loved being able to pass on my passion and knowledge of training, and seeing others get better!
Then I found CrossFit (not a crazy gym that gets everyone injured! – a really good all-round gym that delivered functional training but also with a lot of health & wellbeing practices for longevity). I soon decided to become a CrossFit coach. This gave me several years of experience coaching a wide variety of exercises and movements, in a group setting so my confidence and interest for coaching grew significantly.
During this coaching experience my interest in mobility training increased and I decided to become a Functional Range Conditioning Mobility Specialist (FRCms) and I made mobility and joint health a key component of my training methodology.
Around this time, my placement year began with Loughborough Sport. So, this is where I began to apply all my current knowledge and experience of coaching PT, CrossFit, Sport and Mobility to athletes and team sport situations.
What Sports volunteering did you get involved in whilst at Loughborough?
In my first year I was a coach in the CrossFit Society, which I continued with in my second year as well. I also gained my level 2 Gym Instructor Qualification through the CVA's Gym Instructor pathway where I volunteered at the Holywell Gym. In between my secon and third year I undertook a placement with Loughborough Sport as an Strength & Conditioning Coach. Within this role I was the Lead S&C for BUCS Women's Rugby and Men's Volleyball, as well as an assistant S&C for Lightning Rugby, Dillian Whyte and a swimming group. My experience during my placement led to me continuing as lead S&C with BUCS Women's Rugby 1&2s - both undefeated and promoted!
During my final year I was also an assistant S&C at leicester Tigers Academy whom approached me after the work I undertook during placement year.
What was your experience volunteering like whilst at Loughborough?
Fun – the personality of Loughborough staff, students and athletes screams fun, and I honestly don’t think I was ever not smiling in powerbase!
Challenging – because of the standard of the university and it’s sporting success, I had to raise my standards to match it, and now I hold myself and my work accountable to those standards.
I think a reason I loved coaching at Loughborough so much is because of the culture of a relaxed environment, that delivers amazing results. The staff aren’t micromanaging and super controlling, instead it’s essentially as long as you are delivering quality work, in line with the Loughborough message, it’s all chilled! And I love that as I believe it really allows individuals to express and be themselves in the workplace.
The students are so amazing to coach. I became such good friends with so many of the players I coached. Shoutout to the women’s rugby programme. Working with them has been a life changing experience. They are extremely humble athletes willing to work hard with great attitudes towards all aspects of training, and I had no problem devoting my time to help their development. It’s been an absolute pleasure being a part of their journey at Loughborough, and I can’t thank them enough for the time, effort and patience they’ve given me as I have been developing too.
How do you think being involved in sports volunteering has helped you develop and progress (Personally and professionally)?
Professionally it’s given me the invaluable experience needed. Being in such a supportive environment where I can implement my ideas and learn from my mistakes. At Loughborough, I have learnt a great deal of the underlying scientific principles behind strength & conditioning. My strength in coaching before starting was my people skills and coaching eye, but my weakness was programming and understanding the why behind exercises and program design. My two years of S&C at Loughborough have hugely improved this and now for everything I do I look at the why behind it, and understand delivering S&C to athletes depends on so many factors.
Personally, I have continued to develop my confidence with coaching, especially with higher tier athletes. I suppose you could say I am prone to “Imposter Syndrome” – whereby I’ll think I’m not good enough to the task, eg even though working with international level athletes for a year, still sometimes thinking people won’t want to listen to me as I’m just an intern. But as I have continued on, I have begun to grow out of it and realise I am specialising in this field and I do have something to offer, as a product of the invaluable experience gained with Loughborough Sport.
I have also learnt exactly the meaning of less is more. When I first started placement, I was happy to do 12-hour days, constantly being in and around powerbase, speaking to coaches and athletes, and delivering as many sessions as I could to athletes, because I absolutely loved it. Whilst this was fantastic for my development getting in so many experiences and opportunities, I was certainly prone to “burn out”, and on those days my coaching and delivery suffered as a result. I have certainly learnt to appreciate the balance between doing what I love and chilling out, so I can be fresh to coach, as well as letting new ideas brew in my time away from coaching.
What’s the best advice you could give to a Loughborough student looking to gain the most out of their university experience & prepare for their career?
Be intense with it. We volunteer because we love what we do. If you want to turn what you love doing into a career you need to devote your time and effort to it. It’s not just a side gig for the CV. Especially in sport, your degree will only get you so far. You need experience, and it needs to be experience where you’ve had ideas, made mistakes and learnt, not just showed up to tick off an hour or two a week. And strive to learn – never accept any method as the right way - “there are many ways to skin a cat”. Once you stop learning and trying new ideas and concepts, your whole career progressions stops. Myself as an example; there are so many times where I could’ve just gone with one method: PT, crossfit, mobility training etc, but instead I have learnt the good and the bad from all those disciplines and implemented them when necessary with the appropriate population to get the desired outcome.
Feeling inspired by Eddy's experience? Check out the CVA Portal regularly for performance support opportunities like his.