Fintan Grogan, BSc Sport and Exercise Sciences

Fintan Grogan

What I do in my Sports Science degree...

The module I have enjoyed to most is Motor control. It taught me a lot about the processes behind learning skills which otherwise I wouldn’t have analysed. It was very hands-on practising different skills and the PhD student who led the lab-based sessions really inspired me.

Practical labs are always interesting especially using high-end equipment such as the motion sensor cameras in the biomechanics lab. Smoothing data I found intriguing as a data handling aspect and being able to use sport going on around you for dissertation shows the practicality of your knowledge.

The research project I have enjoyed working on the most is partaking in analysing my own running motion on a treadmill with the motion analysis sensors for biomechanics. Being able to then work this through for a stick man on the computer to generate angles of limbs and compare it to elite athletes was useful.

Social Life and Student Opportunities

I joined the Rugby League society in first year and have enjoyed three years with the club. The social aspect of the society has helped me meet so many people, especially on Wednesday nights. Also, due to unfortunate events, the club is paired with the Mantality society and the boys have really made an effort to make this a success with their work around male mental health. That is a society I wouldn’t previously have joined but have become a regular part of.

Leeds has a great social scene but it balances that with interesting course content and accessible library space. The sport is good and Weetwood and Boddington are both unbelievable facilities. You’re close enough to town but still live in a student area with the campus being a focal point between student living and town. I think it’s got a good balance between everything.

Working with Yorkshire Carnegie Rugby Club

I did a non-lab based work placement at Yorkshire Carnegie Rugby Club which is a full-time professional rugby club in the English Championship.

I worked as a Sport Scientist intern in the Strength and Conditioning department. I was responsible for all the GPS data and units which the players wore in all sessions across the season. I then formulated equations to produce the metrics the coaches wanted and formatted graphs and tables for easy assessment.

The projects I worked on included…

Producing a conditioning schedule for the athletes’ weeks off within pre-season. This required reading literature around de-load, calculating each player’s average load and then producing a 2-week plan including speed, endurance or load sessions for each player. Here I learned to use more advanced formulas in excel pulling from master spreadsheets. I also learned to cope with long, up to 12 hour days.

Secondly, I produced work ethic stats based on the kick chase element of the game. I took video footage and match time of each chase from the Performance Analysts. I then used the GPs data to analyse how hard each player was working based on their own maximal values. I presented this, accompanied with videos, to the head coach and backs coach to show the effect of a hard kick chase and how it can produce positive outcomes. I learned a lot about the Performance Analyst’s role with coding while allowing me to further my experiment into performance based GPS statistics.

I also worked on cause of injury reports relating to possible chronic causes alongside the immediate change in direction and acceleration using the devices. I then worked with the Physiotherapists to rehabilitate the players hamstrings for returning to play. I learned a lot about the rehabilitation process within elite rugby alongside how to manage my overtime to aid the players needs.

Improving my transferable skills…

Communication was essential as it took a multi-disciplinary approach to keep all athletes fit, conditioned and skilled enough to perform properly. It helped me become more efficient when communicating a problem without using extra unnecessary information. It also aided my email communication.

With regards to data analysis, I handled large amounts of data each day so found how best to filter out irrelevant metrics. Alongside this I often had to analyse problems with training before the data was recorded and try to sort them quickly and efficiently to ensure we stuck to schedule.

Highlight of my placement…

I travelled with the team to away matches as far as Jersey giving me the opportunity to get to know the players on a genuine level as well as stay in hotels picking the brains of top coaches. Working in elite sport isn’t glamorous on the most part but match days had a real buzz.

My degree prepared me for my placement...

There was a large amount of graph producing and data management which occurs a lot in my degree. Also, despite lacking knowledge in the elite sport practices, the fundamental biological background through my degree made it significantly easier to work with Physiotherapists.

I also, found how much work the Performance Analysts do to provide the team with tactical knowledge preparing for games. This is something I’m keen to further my skills in however my job title was very niche and I ended up finding out more about my own role and how it differs between each Sport Scientist.

Career plans and the future…

The people I met on my placement are already moving onto impressive careers meaning I have already had the chance to attend experience work with Hull City Tigers, Liverpool Football Club and Bath Rugby Club which I would not have had contacts for before. I am currently working from Leeds for Dundee United FC as a Sport Science Consultant through my placement contacts. Elite sport is a tough world to get into so it really adds a foot in the door which is essential to gaining the trust of coaches in your abilities.