GB Hockey's Alex Danson
A new Open University degree – which focuses on sport, fitness and coaching– has scored a hit with sport enthusiasts aiming to achieve their academic as well as sporting goals.
Future fitness and sports leaders can struggle to combine an academic career with the demands of a tough training regime or job. Many keen sports men and women have to park their studies while they concentrate on reaching their potential.
The BSc (Hons) Sports, Fitness & Coaching, which launches this month, aims to address these needs by offering a relevant degree which can ultimately improve employability. The undergraduate course – aimed at both those who practise sport to a high level and those who want to teach or coach - develops an understanding of sports science, training, coaching and leadership principles as well as improving work effectiveness and enhancing existing skills in these areas.
A number of high achieving sports people are currently studying with The Open University, with professional footballers, power lifters and cross country skiers among our undergraduates.
GB Olympic hockey squad member and OU student Alex Danson has been studying since 2008, while keeping up an international sporting career which she hopes will see her through to London 2012 this summer. The 26-year-old says she always packs both her hockey stick and her study books when she travels with the team to competitions. Her time as a student has seen her fit in an exam while at the Commonwealth Games in India.
“Pretty much any time off I would be studying and I even found myself at times taking my computer into the physio’s room and would continue working during treatment!” she says.
“The OU is the best fit for my sporting career – it means that I can study whilst continuing to commit fully to GB Hockey. I can study whenever and wherever it suits me due to the incredible flexibility of the module and the resources being available online.
“Being a fulltime sports woman is extremely demanding and in a different way studying with the OU is challenging too, but the tutor support is great and studying is something I really enjoy. After lots of hard work I hope eventually to pick up my OU degree – in some way that will feel a bit like a podium moment.”
Alex is due to graduate next year and eventually aims to go into teaching.
Head of Sport & Fitness Ben Oakley, a former Olympic windsurfing coach who has been to two Olympic Games - says the new degree offers a valuable insight into the psychology and science of sport, coupled with the opportunity to enhance career opportunities in teaching and coaching
“The emphasis of the degree course is in applying science and psychology. To be effective, coaches have to understand the mental aspect of their sport. You study how your own body works to gain more understanding of how to apply this knowledge when you teach others.”
The new course expands the existing Foundation Degree in Sport & Fitness to full honours and is enhanced by a rich source of online material, including BBC documentaries and OU short films.