This year as a Personal Trainer or aspiring Strength and Conditioning Coach, one of your new years goals may be to finally get that job in professional sport that you have always wanted.
The job that is the holy grail.
Now I first wrote part 1 to this article way back in 2013! Back then the question that I was constantly asked was always “How do I get a job in pro sport”. Almost 4 years later and nothing has changed, the same question remains the most popular.
Originally I gave 5 pieces of advice: –
- Get lucky
- Get your C.V right
- Drop everything
- Think fast
- Relate to the athlete
I’m not sure I entirely agree with that advice anymore (ever looked back on old pieces of work, old programmes you have written etc and thought WTF!!). Certainly point number 3 is still valid in that you have to dedicate your life to the job when working with athletes. Even more than that, there are times when:-
You will have to totally give up your life.
You will have to put the athletes before yourself.
You will have to put them before your family.
For a recent big sporting event I was involved in I worked late nights, early mornings, Saturday nights and Sunday evenings. On previous occasions, I have worked Xmas day, I have worked my birthday on more than one occasion, and on many occasions I have been unable to attend family functions, or social gatherings. Some may say (not me of course) that working in professional sport is a young, single persons job.
Now I’m not looking for sympathy because I don’t want or need any. I’m simply saying how it is, and what you can expect should you also follow sport as your career path.
So how do you get that job that you want? Below are the two main paths I believe you can choose to follow.
Work For A Club
In order for this to be happen you may need to be an ex professional, or be lucky and “know a guy” who works at a club or team already. Even then this occurrence is happening less and less. If not then you will need to get qualified with an exercise or sports science degree, and more than likely a masters degree in addition. Even further qualifications such as a UKSCA are now expected by many clubs for your application to be considered.
Universities that offer these kind of qualifications will often have contacts at clubs to help you get your foot in the door, but make no mistake about it, they will offer these opportunities to their star students. The high performers who give everything to their study. And why not!
If you do get looked at, it’s likely that at the beginning you will be working with the academy, and you will more than likely be working for free. Some people I know have worked FULL TIME for free for a year in order to secure a paid role.
If you are dedicated and remain passionate at this point, then you may be lucky enough to be given a salaried role, and fair play to you, as you will have earned it. However even then at the end of this, there are no guarantees.
Flying solo you don’t have to have the same level of qualifications in order to work with professional athletes. With the growth in highly equipped independent facilities, there is far more opportunity, and more ‘trainers’ are able to have athletes as clients. This was the path I chose, and on the surface seems like the option we should all take.
Its highly likely you will start off working for little or no money. It may even cost you money. You will have to dedicate everything to the athlete in order to ensure the athletes success, initially without any rewards to you.
You can be easily replaced, as more often than not there are no guarantees in place, certainly no contracts.
If you are not careful you can become a ‘lone wolf’, which can test your mental strength whilst also limiting your development and therefore your ability to develop the athlete.
Because who are you learning from?
At a club there is always somebody more senior or experienced than you. Without realising, your knowledge can peak if you do not continually study (one of the reasons I constantly read research, and decided after a long break, to go back to university and study a masters).
I hate to make it sound all doom and gloom. But the simple fact is that getting a job in professional sport can be very tough. Perhaps you were hoping for a golden answer, the key to unlocking the door of professional sport?
Sadly I don’t have that golden answer, or have the key.
After reading this, many of you might think “why would I want to work in sport”!
But the truth is, if you want to work in sport, and are anything like me it is something that you simply have to do.
I always wanted to coach people who perform at the highest levels in the sports I am most passionate about. I always wanted to coach people to win, as whenever I played sport I always wanted to win.
Winning meant that the sacrifices were not sacrifices at all. And that is the attitude and passion that you must have.
Because if you are truly passionate, and want to work in professional sport for the right reasons, then you will do whatever it takes. When you get the job, you will accept the sacrifices, because the highs are worth it.
So what are your reasons for wanting that job?
Is it for glamour or ego?
Or is there a passion burning inside of you to test yourself at the highest level?
Because working in professional sport is something I’ve never regretted, something I would encourage you to do in your career, and is something I am immensely proud of. Perhaps I could have had more time off in another role, or earned more money, but I have met some amazing people, and had priceless experiences that I will remember for the rest of my life.
And I have loved every minute.
If working in sport is something you really want to do, my advice is go and get it done whatever it takes.