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“If you’re not sure what you want to study, the best thing to do is follow your passion”

​​​​​​​​​Deciding what to study at university can often feel like standing at a crossroads, wondering which route to take. For anyone trying to settle on a degree subject, there’s a lot to be said for using your personal interests as a starting point to find the perfect course for you.

We spoke to third-year Sports Coaching student Craig Hughes about his student journey and how, as a lifelong sports fan and cricket player, he found a degree combining this passion with a desire to help people achieve their full potential.

​​Why I chose to study Sports Coaching

“As a 17-year-old I did not really know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I had a rough idea that it wanted to be in sport but other than that I was pretty lost. After attending several open days for varying sports degrees, I realised that a more science-based degree was not for me.”

​I had been involved in coaching for a number of years, in several different sports, and realised that I was passionate about working with and helping people. I decide to search to see if there was such a thing as a sports coaching degree and, sure enough, the University of Gloucestershire was one of the first links I followed.”

Our Sports Coaching course is recognised as one of the strongest in the UK, with 90% of graduates in work or further study six months after finishing. Students are able to develop advanced coaching skills across a range of sporting areas, alongside work placements with organisations such as Cheltenham Town Football Club, Gloucester Rugby and NGB British Rowing. This focus on advanced coaching skills has allowed Craig to explore what he’s really interested in:

“My academic interests are founded in coach-athlete relationships, analysing interactions between a coach and his/her athletes in both a group and one-to-one setting. This socio-psychological approach has impacted not just my academics but also my practical coaching as well.”

My lecturer and dissertation supervisor Paul Garner has had a fantastic influence on me, his help and understanding of relationships and coach’s leadership behaviours has stimulated me to want to further my education by undertaking a Masters.”

Lecturers, all of whom are active sports coaches at community or national level, teach specialist sports coaching practices as well as sports science areas that support effective coaching such as performance analysis, biomechanics and psychology.

Working with partners including GB Rowing, British Equestrian, GB Paralympic squads, and the England and Wales Cricket Board, students also gain extensive industry experience.

The next steps on my career path

​For Craig, the close community and camaraderie on his course were just as important as the professional networks and technical skills developed along the way.

“A benefit of being a smaller university is the interaction you get with lecturers and other students. I could pop into any lecturer’s office and have a chat about everything from an essay to personal issues and there is a real sense of care and wanting what is best for us as individuals.”

“​The sense of community extends out into the sports teams, I have been involved in several sports since a young age and the university offers a brilliant range of different sports all competing at different competitive levels. Having played a lot of basketball at home, I was delighted that I could continue to play the sport that I enjoyed at university.”

As well as allowing him to pursue his passion both in the lecture theatre and on the basketball court, Craig found such a sense of purpose during his three years studying Sports Coaching that he’s decided to undertake a postgraduate degree at the University of Gloucestershire in the same area.

“When I look back on the last three years, I ask myself did I make the right decision? The harder I think the surer that I am, yes I did! I followed my passion with no real idea at where it would take me, but now after much deliberation with lecturers and my family I have decided that I want to further my education in sports coaching. The best place for me to that is once again at the University of Gloucestershire where I will be undertaking a masters by research.”

My advice? Follow your passions!

Craig’s advice for any prospective students struggling to decide which area of study to immerse themselves in over the next three years? Think seriously about how you most like to spend your time and let your enthusiasm for the subject guide your choice.

“What the last three years have shown me is that if you are going to do something, do something that you are passionate about. As my undergraduate studies come to an end, that is the best piece of advice I could offer anyone!”

Whether you’re a film buff who’s keen to get behind the camera by studying Film Production, a photographer who wants to hone their craft by taking our award-winning Editorial and Advertising Photography course or a nature-lover who would like to qualify with a degree in Biology, sometimes your hobby can provide the key to choosing the right degree course for you.

For any sports lovers like Craig, our specialised courses, which are in the UK top 20 for graduate prospects according to the Guardian University Guide 2020, may be the first step on your journey towards a career in this world.

​Find out more about our Sports Coaching course here​.