Daniel Gaywood is currently a level 2 RFU Qualified Coach working as an Attack and Kicking strategist with Bristol Bears Women’s, competing in the Tyrells 15s Premiership. Below he tells us how postgraduate study has provided opportunities to pursue a career in elite level sport .
"Since completing an MSc in Sports Coaching and Performance in September 2019, at the University of South Wales, I’ve been in the process of developing a new business with another USW graduate, providing private 1-1 coaching for semi-professional/professional players. Prior to working with Bristol Bears, I spent time as a Backs and Skills coach within a number of Academy environments, including’s SGS Filton U18s and Cardiff Blues U16s, which I was able to balance alongside my studies, both at undergrad and Master level.
Undertaking a post-graduate degree at USW allowed me to broaden my perspective of coaching. The course attracts a varying degree of personalities, sports and professions, including coaches, analysts and scouts, which allows students to examine and compare various roles within a professional sport setting. These interactions firstly developed understanding, whilst also enhancing the skill of transferring key learnings between sporting environments. This has been a key factor of my professional development and has encouraged me to spend more time researching sports within multiple high-performance environments, including Welsh Netball, Wales Men’s Hockey, England Roses and Bristol City Women’s Football Club. These experiences not only allowed insight into the professional game, through access to elite coaches and athletes, but continued my professional development as a young coach. Learnings taken from these environments are translated into a rugby context and utilised in my personal coaching methods - valuable understanding that I will continue to pursue throughout my career.
The course itself also facilitated this method of learning, through consistent exposure to top performers and coaching experts, an element of the course I found to be particularly influential and motivating. On top of this, having access to lecturers who share vast experiences of coaching at the highest level, e.g. program leader Melanie Tuckwell and other world class authority’s such as Professor Ian Jeffreys, enabled the constant access of knowledge and understanding via formal and informal discussions. This offers an opportunity for students to consistently grow as coaches. During my time studying on the MSc course, I thrived upon being in an environment where casual conversation with elite coaches was the norm. The course overall, initially gave me a glimpse into the requirements of elite level sport, but further to this, displayed the important role academia has in the continued pursuit of success. An MSc in Sports Coaching and Performance taught me the value of learning and continuous self-improvement in any aspect, environment or field and gained me the direction and assurance required to pursue a successful career in elite level sport."
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