MSc in Applied Sport Science

I recently recieved the news that I have passed my MSc in Applied Sports Sciences. With so many coaches out there, what does this mean for any clients that I work with?

Well, during my masters I studied Sport Psychology, Performance Physiology and Effective Coaching. As well as doing a thesis and supervised experience as a Sports’ Psychologist. In most of my work I would say that how I work is about 60% similar to the majority of instructor/coaches I have worked alongside at places like Plas Y Brenin.

What my MSc has taught me is that whilst I might be teaching the same things, how I go about it is often slightly different. In particular I have examined the problem of learning in a risk based environment, and as such tend to use progressive teaching a lot more, as well as concentrate on developing workable chunks of individual skills in a low stress/risk environment before moving those skills into areas where stress and risk increase.

This approach has help many of my clients develop very robust skills, and more importantly I have at times concentrate on the less is more approach. Be that less input from me, and more repetition from the clients; or less input from me but more questioning to see if the clients are elabourating and reconstructing the ideas I have given them in a correct and safe manner.

Beyond that I often spend a lot longer trying to get my clients to do fundamental things correctly, like moving on rock and being tactical in there approach to a climb from the outset. Getting rid of bad habits early on means that they are less likely to dog your climbing later on in your climbing career.

Above all though I have a far greater understanding of why it is important to do what I and other coaches and instructors do. Mainly because to complete a Master’s Degree the emphasis is on look at what our assumptions are based on, by looking at the research in things like skill acquisition and learning paradigms.

It is unfortunate that the MLT is taking its time developing coaching awards, as whilst an MSc will be far higher and more involved than any awards they produce, it is unfortunately not recognised as a ‘outdoor’ award. Sadly I won’t get any more money for being more qualified, as the winter Mountain leader award is see as a more important qualification in my field than a Masters Degree.

So whilst I might be better qualified on paper to teach rock climbing the MLT don’t recognise that a background in learning and teaching isn’t enough to be allowed to be a course director of a Summer Mountain Leader Training courses, no matter how many summer training courses I work on.

Ironically, this has stopped me getting a job, but on the plus side I work a lot fewer walking courses and more climbing one which can’t be a bad thing given I love to be out on the rock.

Anyway, it is only just hitting home that after two years very hard work both in the classroom, and more importantly at home. I now have an MSc in Applied Sport Science. I mighty even look for some funded Phd’s in some nice parts of the world. So if you know of a related research post in California, Colorado or somewhere equally as hot and covered in rock.

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