I have been working as a Performance Analyst with British Tennis since May 2015, something that I look back and reflect on with pride in my progression and yet still with an abundance of desire to propel myself further to advance my skills, knowledge and experience to better my support to athletes and coaches. I have always wanted to work in sport, never quite knowing what I would do, where, when or how. A naturally inquisitive flare was developed throughout my athletics career from around sixteen, right up until I graduated at twenty three. Running the 400mH and having a coach always on the stopwatch, plus a really supportive family who always attended and filmed my races, was surely the key ingredients for success with someone wanting to persue my profession. A personal desire to enhance my own performances, coupled with an interest in using the data and video I had to hand, to better understand what I’m doing, to be able to implement, improve, and repeat.
For years I did this, analysing my stride patterns, looking at split times, watching my technique in slow motion, comparing myself to age-group and senior runners. Not once did I consider that this detailing of performance was the foundation of a career in sport science. As I continued my personal pursuits on the track and questioning training intricacies with my University coach, I began using a Vicon motion capture system for my research project at the University of Birmingham. My fascination with this type of technology and research encouraged me to discover further education in this area – and motion analysis quickly turned to performance analysis. Having signed up for a MSc in Performance Analysis, I thought I would learn about notation as a minor interst, and then become a Biomechanist, but much to my naivety of what notational analysis even was, I absolutely fell for it.
Following the completion of my MSc in this field I continued my work experience with British Canoeing (Slalom), who took me on during my MSc. I started by simply filming at training sessions, then nationals, then I was offered a chance to support at international competitions – which I, of course, said yes. Not too soon after this I become involved with Hertfordshire Mavericks Netball club – a role which I picked up through conversations over Twitter. This was great though. Another new sport to learn, a new type of analysis, new people, new skills, more improvements to be made personally, and this time I had the responsibility to analyse and report what I wanted. And having this responsibility equals exploration. Self-discovery. Trial and test. Adapt and reform. I worked with these two fantastic teams over a couple of years each, working alongside other casual jobs, but most importantly building my experience, working on my hard and soft skills.
One year after handing in my MSc research project, I was offered a full time role as an analyst working in elite sport. It has been great and answered so many questions I had prior to being an analyst in a full time position. My learning curve has been vast and steep, and I continue to learn so much about so many areas. Data, communication, analysis, processes, presentation, impact and collaboration are just a few words that could lead to many discussions regarding my role. I love that I can reflect on how hard I worked to get offered a role, how hard I have worked since, and how far I can see I have come, let alone looking ahead to see how far I can go too. I love knowing there are many more things to work on. And I love being in a job that I love. It gives me the underlying desire to improve what I do to try and support coaches and players that ultimately improves the performances in sport that we all want to see and admire. A genuine excitement, pleasure and privilege.