Molly Garbutt

Physiologist (postgraduate voluntary placement)


Through her Undergraduate Placement with Loughborough Sport's Physiology Team and now in her current role as a postgraduate volunteer, Molly has immersed herself in the performance environment on campus developing not only her technical skills, but also the softer skills that are key to being an effective practitioner.

Tell us a little about yourself (E.g. hobbies, interests and background):

I grew up in a small village in Leeds and have always been heavily involved in sport. During University I enjoyed playing netball and hockey. I am also a keen runner; I represented Loughborough in the Midland League Cross Country. Since the pandemic, I have developed an interest in fitness and started doing home workouts and daily yoga sessions. I really enjoy listening to podcasts and reading about anything in the health & wellness space (‘Deliciously Ella’ is a personal favourite)! Aside from sport, I’m very passionate about charity fundraising; during my first year at Loughborough, I supported RAG on student committee and led a variety of fundraisers which I found really rewarding.

How did you first get involved within sport at Loughborough?

In September 2019, I started my undergraduate placement year as a full-time physiologist with Loughborough Sport. The role provided a range of opportunities advertised by the CVA to be involved in.

During your years at Loughborough what have you got involved in through volunteering or whilst placement within sport?

During my undergraduate placement I delivered lab-based physiology support to members of the public and professional athletes from a wide range of different sports, including cyclists, runners and triathletes. Interestingly, I also supported several motor sport athletes in preparation for key events in the season. I have delivered multiple sessions in the environmental chamber to support athletes with preparing for competitions in extreme heat, such as Marathon Des Sables. The CVA provided opportunities to undergo workshops in particular, with an established physiology practitioner, Steve Ingham. The series of workshops covered topics such as conducting a needs analysis, understanding personality types and interview practice.

In my current role as a physiologist, I am involved in lab- and field-based testing for student athletes, including the use of breath-by-breath analysis equipment and blood lactate sampling. Following testing, I interpret data and report meaningful results that I share with athletes and coaches to help inform their training.

What has your experience volunteering been like whilst at Loughborough?

Interacting with a variety of athletes, practitioners and students has been hugely positive towards my development. Both of my roles as a physiologist have provided a good level of challenge by stretching me to think critically about a variety of topics, whilst also allowing me to have autonomy over multiple different projects. Overall, it’s been a really engaging experience that I have gained a great deal from.

How has being involved with Loughborough Sport helped you develop and progress (personally and professionally)?

Throughout both placements I’ve been involved in Continued Professional Development (CPD) which has been pivotal in my development as a practitioner. Through CPD I have developed my presentation skills, my ability to collaborate with other practitioners and to offer diverse thinking to solve problems effectively, to name a few. I’ve also gained a deeper appreciation of how scientific concepts that I have learnt in the lecture theatre translate to real-life practice.

Loughborough Sport has always encouraged me to actively reflect on my experiences, which has refined my self-awareness. The ability to set goals, reflect and progress forwards is central to both my professional and personal development. Furthermore, Loughborough Sport has developed my confidence with communicating to different people, building rapport and therefore honing my interpersonal skills.

What’s the best advice you could give to a Loughborough student looking to get involved in volunteering & gain the most out of their university experiences?

If you’re debating a placement or volunteering opportunity with Loughborough Sport I’d encourage you to absolutely go for it! Even if you’re not sure whether you want to pursue a career in sport specifically, the transferable skills you will gain from volunteering with Loughborough Sport are second to none.

Finally, what do you enjoy most about volunteering?

I enjoy being supported by mentors and practitioners that have a lot of experience in sport; learning from other people’s insights and perspectives to drive my own personal and professional development is something I’m very grateful to have access to. Also, interacting with other placement students is a brilliant aspect of volunteering because you can support each other and collaborate on projects, ultimately optimising athlete development.

Feeling inspired?

Feeling inspired by Molly's experience? Check out the CVA Portal regularly for Performance Support opportunities like this.

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