How studying sport can land you your dream career
Dev Sharma landed his dream job before he had even graduated. He’s a performance analyst at the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and spends his days travelling the world with the Great British wheelchair tennis athletes - watching games, reviewing matches and creating development plans.
“I have to say, I absolutely love my job,” says Dev, a graduate in Sport and Exercise Science from the University of Chichester’s Institute of Sport. “At Chichester, I studied a module in performance analysis. I loved it and went on to study it as an MSc.”
Dev found himself some work experience at the LTA, worked there three days a week while he completed his Masters, and the rest is history.
“Now I’m in charge of the whole analysis programme for the team. I’ve travelled to Australia to prep the players for the Open, and I get to go to lots of the competitions. It’s great,” he says.
So much more than being a famous athlete
Sport has never been more dissected. Every hit and kick, every finish line crossed and mile completed are pored over by teams of professionals, each with a different job to do. Athletes are managed by entire teams of staff, while the management and media coverage of sporting events is almost military grade.
Then there’s the public health side of things. We are living in an era where physical activity and exercise are issues of the government, and the need for a healthier population is driving demand for a highly educated sporting workforce.
While sports degrees were once the domain of elite athletes and the uber-fit, the growing industry means there is now much more variety available, both in terms of the modules on offer and the students taking them. Nutrition, biomechanics, social history and the psychology of coaching are all among the subject headlines - and with that choice comes a whole new set of potential careers.
Dev’s course mates have similarly exciting jobs. One friend is a recruitment analyst at Manchester United Football Club, another analyses performance at Wasps Rugby Club, while a third is a sports scientist at a cycling company.
Sports coaching, management, and teaching are all other popular career routes for sports graduates.
Dev grew up playing tennis, and was president of the University of Chichester Racquets Club, but he says you don’t have to be a high level competitor to study sports at degree level.
“A lot of people on the course played sport at university, but it wasn’t like everyone was elite standard. There were a lot of people who just absolutely love sport – things like the theory behind it, the psychology of long distance runners, or the nutrition and training that goes into winning gold medals and world cups. There’s a lot to learn.”
What to look for if you want to study sport
If you’re interested in studying for a sports degree at uni there are a few things worth considering. Think about their links to the industry. If your lecturers have, or maybe are still working in your field of interest then they are likely to give you some great advice about how to get your foot in the door.
It’s also worth giving some thought to the facilities. Sport is one subject where this really matters, and it can be quite individual. When you are researching universities ask what pitches and tracks are available, is there space to play a variety of different sports at different levels, as well as the scientific equipment to back it all up.
Taking the Chichester Institute of Sport as an example, there are indoor and outdoor pitches for different sports on different surfaces. There is also a host of science suites, including physiology and biomechanics labs, and psychology labs (which include a virtual reality reader, a brain imaging unit and an observation suite). Then there’s the environmental chamber used to simulate conditions such as heat and altitude (you can imagine you’re Mo Farah’s analyst at his altitude base camp), and a sports injury clinic where you can learn the ropes and get treated yourself.
“People’s attitude to sport is changing a lot,” adds Dev. “As soon as I tell people I have a sports degree they are always asking me how they can get fitter, or how they can eat better and feel healthier. There’s also so much science and business behind the whole sporting industry now, which is bringing in a wider range of people. It’s a great time to be part of it all.”
About our sponsor
The Chichester Institute of Sport delivers highly regarded degrees, underpinned by internationally recognised and world leading research alongside cutting edge applied practice. Students are taught through a central ‘theory to practice’ ethos, in well-equipped laboratory and sport facilities by research active academic staff and industry recognised professionals.
Find out more about the University at one of their open days.