New Fast Track BSc (Hons.) Soccer Coaching and Performance to begin in Sept 2018

Staffordshire University’s Sports Coaching department are introducing a new accelerated degree in Soccer Coaching and Performance in September 2018*. This course is designed to accommodate a growing need within the sector for sport specific coaching degrees, with this being a specific football focused degree.

The BSc (Hons.) Soccer Coaching and Performance degree is an ‘accelerated degree’, which is delivered over 2 years, instead of the typical 3 for an undergraduate course. The course aims to provide aspiring football coaches from both the U.K and abroad with the opportunity to acquire the appropriate skills, and develop the specific knowledge required to gain employment in the football industry, both in the U.K and internationally.Students at St Georges Park

The course combines aspects of football coaching, performance analysis, professional development and football conditioning. The course is delivered by a highly motivated and well-qualified team of academics, as well as expert UEFA licenced football coaches. Support comes from local partners, which include the English Premier League (EPL) football team Stoke City F.C., Newcastle town F.C., and the Sir Stanley Mathews Coaching Foundation, amongst others. For this reason, there is a work placement opportunity which will provide students with the opportunity to gain a valuable insight in to the inner-workings of a professional football club, or the development of football in the U.K. at a community level.
The course is linked with Staffs F.A., who will provide the opportunity to further professional development by completing football coaching qualifications from The F.A.’s coach education pathway. Furthermore, students will gain insight and experience of using industry standard performance analysis software, for example Focus and Dartfish programmes which are commonly used within professional football clubs.

This accelerated degree will add to the suite of accelerated degree courses currently offered by Sport and Exercise, at present the other being the Strength and Conditioning degree. It is an exciting time for the staff involved and an excellent opportunity for those interested in coaching and specifically football coaching. If you require any further information, then please contact the course leader Ashley Gill (

Sport and Exercise Far East connections continue to develop

Following the success of hosting 60 football coaches from China on a three-month study visit over the 2016 summer term, in November 2016, Dr Jacky Forsyth (Senior Lecturer, Sport and Exercise) and Mr Nigel Lee (International Office) visited various Universities and high schools throughout China as part of a two-week study and career roadshow, organised by the British Council. The objectives of the roadshow were to showcase our courses in sport and exercise and to promote Staffordshire University’s profile, for the purposes of recruiting both undergraduate and postgraduate students to our courses in the future.

The tour involved visits to six different cities (Beijing, Wuhan, Chongqing, Ningbo, Suzhou and Guangzhou, selected by the British Council), incorporating demo classes and meetings at four universities and four schools. This subject-focused roadshow was the first of its kind for the British Council, China, and it was a great opportunity for Staffordshire University to be a part of it.

In the demo classes and career talks, we highlighted what it was like to study and live at Staffordshire University, and students got a taste of how British lectures differ to the customary lecture format in China. We highlighted our current research on the differences between males and females regarding fat oxidation following high intensity interval exercise. The students were able to get involved Basketball session china tourusing our Turning point clickers, engaged in discussion and debate, and learnt about our applied work at the University.

We also met with staff at Chengdu Sport University, Chongqing University and Chengdu Normal University, in order to discuss collaboration opportunities (such as partnerships, and opportunities for research collaborations, and student exchanges). These meetings were only possible because of the recent three-month study visit that we hosted (along with Stoke City FC Community Trust) for 58 Chinese football coaches on behalf of the Federation of University Sports of China (FUSC) and the China School Sports Federation (CSSF). As the coaches have now become Staffordshire University’s alumni, they were able to share their campus and learning experiences with their colleagues and students.

From our experiences of further and higher education in China, we learnt how courses in China in sport and exercise are evolving and growing rapidly, from a strong base on physical education and physiotherapy into sports science and management of sport. From the meetings we had with both the different universities as part of the British Council roadshow, and via our Chinese football coaching alumni, we are very mGroup Photo - china touruch looking forward to future developments and collaborations.

For further information about the sports courses at Staffordshire University please visit our Sport Courses

Sports Therapy Graduates land roles in the NHS

Staffordshire University BSc (Hons) Sports Therapy Graduates Eve Littler, Ryan Baddeley, Chiku Chilufya and Lauren Dicken have all recently landed roles working within the NHS. These four graduates offer further examples of the success stories coming from the Sports Therapy programme , with us having previously reported on our graduates breaking into football and running successful private practices, and illustrates the growing reputation and scope for employment of Sports Therapists within the UK.

Lauren, who graduated in 2014 is working as a Rehabilitation Assistant at the Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust; Eve, a 2015 graduate is working at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, while Ryan and Chiku, 2016 graduates, have landed roles as Physiotherapy Technical Instructor at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital (Birmingham) and Band 3 Senior Therapist Assistant at the Wolverhampton New Cross Hospital respectively within 3-months of graduating in July.

Chiku stated “I’m really pleased to have got this job so soon after graduating and excited to be putting my sports therapy skills into practice. I’m hoping the role will give me the chance to apply my skills across a range of different client background to give me experience across different clinical settings and use this as a platform to gain a MSc Physiotherapy”.

chiku-chilufya-nhs (Chiku Chilufya, 2016 graduate)

With the increased recognition of the importance of exercise and rehabilitative therapy to improving public health, it is highly encouraging to see the number of Sports Therapy graduates being employed to apply their skills and knowledge in this sector of the health industry, while further illustrating the value being a Staffordshire Graduate   can have in enhancing our graduates employability.

The Sports Therapy programme at Staffordshire University is one of the most highly ranked accredited Sports Therapy programmes in the UK scoring a National Student Survey score of 97% for Overall Satisfaction, within a Sport and Exercise department ranked 13th in the 2017 Guardian League Table. To find out more about our programme click here or follow us on Twitter @SUSTclinic.

From Beijing to Stoke:  How Staffordshire University and Stoke City FC are changing the face of Chinese football

As the European Football Championships enter the knock-out stages a unique football programme starts in Stoke-on-Trent.  Sixty coaches from across China have arrived in the City to start a 12-week football coaching programme delivered by Staffordshire University and Stoke City FC. The coaches arrive in the UK across China, from Beijing to Shanghai, from Xiamen to Tibet.

Chinese Soccer Coaching

The coaches will learn all aspects of practical football coaching including undertaking several coaching qualifications during their stay.  The aspects delivered by University and the Football club will include lessons in coaching, physiology, psychology, nutrition as well as practical classes in using GPS technology to monitor player work rates.


The coaching programme is prestigious being funded by the Chinese Government.  The University/SCFC partnership is one of only three organisations in the UK that was approved by the Chinese Government, the other two being at Loughborough and Bournemouth.


This programme builds on the Universities growing profile and reputation in Asia.  Head of International recruitment at the University Dr Lisa Blenkinsop commented “The International Office is keen to develop Staffordshire’s presence in China, particularly around Sports and Exercise, and we hope this is the start of a long-term relationship with the Chinese Government and SCFC. The selection of Staffordshire University as a host institution for the Chinese football coaches underlines the excellent opportunities – facilities and teaching expertise – available at Staffordshire University to potential Chinese students.”


The coaches will be staying in University state-of-the-art accommodation on its Leek Road campus which underwent a £3.5million refurbishment last year and they will be having lessons and practical classes at both Stoke City training ground and at the University.

As Dr Jacky Forsyth who is leading the academic aspects of the project for the University points out that this is important for growing links with China.  Dr Forsyth says “the investment in football in China at the moment is incredible.  Its promotion and development is a key part of Chinese government policy with billions being invested in the next 20 years at all levels from grass roots to elite.  The programme being delivered by the University and Stoke City is important in developing the skills needed to improve football coaching in China.

Angela Smith from Stoke City FC adds “The Football club has very strong links already with China already, in particular with work we do with our coaches based at Western International School in Shanghai so we are used to delivering football coaching in the global marketplace.  This programme will further raise the profile of Stoke City in South East Asia.  It is also great to work with the Staffordshire University on this project, further supporting our partnership.”

The presence of so many coaches from across China completing such a high profile government-backed programme in Stoke-on-Trent also has economic benefits for the City.  Acting Dean of Business and Law at Staffordshire University Dr Peter Jones states “One of the key outcomes of the city being European City of Sport is economic.  By welcoming the coaches to the city and delivering a great programme we will further build the City’s business relationships with China and this will have economic benefits to the people of the City.”


Follow the Summer of Sport and the European Football Championships at #StaffsSquad @staffsUni. 

For more details of the wide range of sport related undergraduate and postgraduate degrees on offer at Staffordshire University check out our webpages at the School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise. We are a leading UK University for Sport degrees in the heart of England, we produce Internationally recognized research which is driving knowledge in this area forward and we work with leading national sporting teams.

Details of the new Soccer Coaching and Performance degree at Staffordshire University can be obtained from

Psychology and Sport and Exercise degrees at Staffordshire continue to rise up the league table for a third year in a row

Both Psychology and Sport and Exercise degrees at Staffordshire University have moved up the 2017 Guardian League Table for the third consecutive year running, demonstrating that Staffordshire offers some of the highest ranked Psychology and Sport degrees in modern Universities in the UK.

Psychology rose two places to 47th firmly securing their place in the top 50th and being in the top 10 of new (post -1992) universities.  Similarly, Sport and Exercise rose 8 places to rank 13th overall in the UK.

The Guardian University Guide rates the quality of student experience rather than just research outputs, therefore it is a measure of how good the learning experience is.  It uses a range of different measures in calculating table position, but is focused towards student satisfaction, teaching and employability.

Judy David Head of undergraduate Psychology comments “this shows we continue to have some of the best Psychology degrees in the UK for a new (post 1992) University.  This rise illustrates what a great degree our students get whilst studying at Staffordshire.

We put the student experience at the heart of what we do, which is why all our Psychology degrees are rated in the top 10% in the UK for student satisfaction.  I’m really proud of what our team have achieved on behalf of our students, and proud of our students too.”

James Capper, Head of undergraduate Sport and Exercise adds “For Sport and Exercise this is excellent news and is testament to the innovative teaching, real world placements and exceptional student support we offer here at staffs.”

Head of the School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise Dr Peter Jones adds “these results demonstrate that what our academic, technical and support teams provide for the student experience is magnificent.  When you add this to the great research and academic enterprise we deliver it makes a fabulous first class student experience.  I’m really lucky to work with some brilliant people who are innovating and pioneering in their approach to producing high caliber graduates.”

Staffordshire University has invested over £30 million pound in the Science centre in 2014, the home of Psychology. In the last two years it has spent two million pounds on upgrading its sport laboratories and facilities.  Staffordshire University is currently transforming its Stoke campus with a £40 million development.


For more information on the range of Psychology and Sport and Exercise degrees at Staffordshire University then check out our website, read the news from the School on our In-Psych or SENSE blogs, and follow us on Twitter @StaffsPsych and @StaffsSpEx  for the latest news

.the guardian

Science centre

Entrepreneurial skills benefitting Sports Therapist

Twelve months on from graduating in June 2015 Sports Therapy graduates Natalie Jones, Sophie Minor and Kate Highy are all reaping the benefit of the entrepreneurial, business and transferable skills at the heart of its programme design.  On completing their studies all three of these graduates took the first brave steps into the world of work by setting up their own sports therapy businesses.  In a competitive market, all three have successful developed their business drawing upon the skills and knowledge gained throughout their studies to ensure they have been able to survive the initial challenges that all new businesses face in its first year and have now begun to establish a strong reputation for their practice.


Reflecting back on their studies Sophie stated “The business proposal assessment we had to complete has helped me massively in setting up my “Sophie Minor Sports Injury and Rehabilitation Clinic” based in Blythe Bridge.  I’ve been able to use the materials acquired in the module and my 3-year plan in almost identical to that which I submitted for my assessment, allowing me to put my knowledge into practice”.


Adding further to this Natalie stated that “Having to complete the work placement module really helped to confirm to me which path of sports therapy I wanted to follow, and gave me a really insight into how to effectively use my time during appointment,Natalie Jones clinic logo and being able to develop communication skills with patients.  From this module it became an easy decision to base my “Natalie’s Sports Therapy and Massage”  business out of LS Health Club in Stafford.  I know love being in a working environment that I feel comfortable in and having a positive impact on people’s lives”.



All three of these graduates have utilised the increasing importance of online and social media marketing of their businesses and describe the importance the role of this in generating the initial client base.  Natalie said “A lot of behind the scenes work is needed to simply get clients through the door such as advertising, of which word of mouth is highly underrated. It’s also become abundantly clear to never stop studying or stop learning about lesser known conditions.” While Sophie added “The hardest thing was drawing people’s attention to my business to allow my reputation to build; therefore i put on a new offer each month to gain this attention. This has worked really well and I now notice that Sophie Minor Clinic Room Sophie Minor private practiceword of mouth is the best form of advertisement which has brought many people into my clinic.”




To illustrate the impact that Staffs students are now having further afield than Staffordshire, Kate Highy has successfully overseen the growth of her own Sports Therapy business in Windsor.  Similar to Natalie and Sophie, Kate has shown how the development of her understanding of the role that social media can play in driving new businesses by using her Kate Highy Sports TherapistKate Highy in practice Facebook page to promote her practice and drive new custom.  Kate said “It’s been great being able to set up my business and make an income to fit around my life.  The hardest part was having belief in myself and being brave enough to make the first steps, but the confidence I gained from being out on placement during my course, and gaining that understanding of the financial aspects of running a business helped give me that confidence.  Now each time my client leaves feeling improved from before their treatment just boosts my confidence further”.Kate Highy Logo






The Sports Therapy course at Staffordshire University was ranked 1st place in the UK when rated against the National Student Survey 2015-16 with 100% Overall student satisfaction and recently ranked 13th in the 2017 Guardian League Table for sports courses.   To find out more about our Sports Therapy course click here.

Sport Therapy Students Soft Tissue Masterclass From Dan Buchannon

Level 6 Sports Therapy students were given a soft tissue masterclass in myofascial “Rolfing” by Soft Tissue Therapist Dan Buchannon.  Dan, who has been a practising soft tissue therapist for 10 years having worked with an array of elite sports teams including Bracknell Bee’s Ice hockey, Reading FC, Ipswich Town FC, and most recently Derby County FC.

Dan provided students his experience and insight into the challenges facing new 20160314_140505graduates trying to break into professional sport, before passing on his knowledge of an emerging soft tissue technique known as “Rolfing”.  The technique was completely new to the students and helped enhance the skill set for these soon to be graduates.  The session included some unique methods of exposing the students to the realities of the myofascial matrix through the manual dissection and manipulation of raw meat tissue, before focusing on the application of techniques applicable to restoring ankle and hamstring function as well addressing postural faults in the torso and back.

The students excelled in their willingness to learn the skills and gain an appreciation of the treatment modality.  The students reported “Its been great to have someone like Dan who is currently working in elite sport come in to show us new areas in which the industry is working.  Seeing some the immediate effects and responses of the rolfing has been great too, and is something I definitely want to learn more about after today.”20160314_145119

Having just set up his own private practice (Go-Perform) in addition to his work with Derby County FC Dan finished the session with a Q&A about the important employability qualities within new graduates and discussed the importance for grauates to find their own niche area of expertise within the industry.  The students further commented “hearing from Dan about the importance of networking, and the ways he has gone about building a reputation both in sport and private practice has been priceless, and has been a real eye opener for myself with just 2 months to go before we graduate”.

Dan commented himself “It’s been a privilege coming in and sharing what I can to the students both in terms of new techniques and helping them understand what takes for them to make their own ambitions a reality. They’ve all taken on board everything I asked of them, and if they can show that same working ethos as graduates they every chance of succeeding in this industry.”

You can find out more about more about our Sport Therapy Course via our website or following us on twitter @SUSTclinic.

Professor Vish Unnithan assists in the development of Blackburn Rovers FC Academy

A group of Blackburn Rovers FC youngsters are being monitored as they progress from the Under-12 to Under-14 age groups, to ascertain the effects of the increased training load on the cardiac function of young players as a result of the introduction of the EPPP.

The players are being tested on a cycle ergometer exercise test three times from 2015 to 2017. During the test, measurements of the structure and function of the heart will be obtained Vish testing Blackburn academyusing echocardiography, as well as the aerobic fitness levels of the boys.

The second stage of this project was completed this year and the results are in the process of being analysed. The project was co-ordinated by Professor Vish Unnithan from the School of Sport and Exercise at Staffordshire University, who said: “The enthusiasm of the boys has been first class and the help of all the staff at Blackburn Rovers Academy, particularly Dr. Russ Wrigley, in helping to organise a complex project is very much appreciated by all the researchers. We are looking forward to coming back to the club in 2017 to complete the project.”

Find out more about Professor Vish Unnithan and his his research interests

Maria Sharapova – How does it come to this?

Maria Sharapova bravely faced the press on Monday 7th March 2016 and reported that she had failed a drugs test. The press expected her to be announcing her retirement at the age of 29 and a glittering career. In fact, she declared that she had failed a drugs test for meldonium on 26th January, following her match with Serena Williams at the Australian open.

All top sport people will be subjected to drug testing both in and out of competition. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) control the World’s drug testing by having sports governing bodies (in this case the International Tennis Federation) adhere to their testing policies and procedures. Every January WADA publish a list of banned substances. They also maintain a list of monitored substances. Meldonium (or as previously known mildronate) was on the monitored list but WADA decided to add it to the banned list from 1st January 2016. This will be because WADA have noticed increasing usage and determined that it has performance enhancing effects. It increases endurance capacity. Something which is clearly of benefit in tennis matches and training.

Sharapova claimed she had been taking the drug for 10 years for medicinal purposes. She admitted that she had received an e-mail from WADA on 22nd December informing her that the status of meldronium would be changed from 1st January. By her own admission, she ignored the e-mail. In fact, sports people and their support staff were notified as far back as September that meldronium was being added to the banned list.

Sports people can face a ban from their sport for varying lengths of time depending on the drug and the circumstances. A four year ban is a possibility but her lawyers will argue that she was taking the drug legitimate for medical purposes. That should not wash. If that was the case then she should have submitted a Therapeutic Use Exemption Certificate (TUE). She should not be able to claim she didn’t know. That is not a legitimate defence. Her sponsors have suspended their support for her rapidly and now we wait for the ITF to make their decision.

WADA are potentially expecting a number of such cases. It is possible that a number of Ethiopian athletes have failed tests for meldronium recently, but these have yet to be publically confirmed.

Trevor Barter – Senior Lecturer, Sport & Exercise.  Click here to find out more about Trevor or our sport and exercise programme


Britain’s strongest man visits Sport and Exercise Science Laboratories

Eddie ‘The Beast’ Hall recently visited the Sport and Exercise Science Laboratories at Staffordshire University as part of a BBC 1 documentary that is to be aired in March 2016. Eddie, who hails from Stoke-on-Trent, has recently retained his title as Britain’s Strongest Man for the third consecutive year, finished 4th in the 2015 World’s   Strongest Man, and is currently the world record holder for the deadlift (lifting a staggering 463 kg to break the record!)

Sport and Exercise Science staff and students put Eddie through a series of physiological tests to ascertain what it takes to be one of the world’s strongest men. Eddie undertook tests to measure his resting metabolic rate, body composition, anaerobic capacity, muscular power, and muscular strength. Eddie’s results were astounding and nothing like those typically seen when students perform these tests as part of their Sport and Exercise Science degree here at Staffordshire University.

With a body mass of 174 kg, Eddie’s sheer size would not allow him to fit inside the Bod Pod for the assessment of body composition. Instead, Sport and Exercise Physiology Lecturer, Dr Jacky Forsyth was left with the arduous task of trying to measure Eddie’s body composition with a set of skinfold calipers.
Resting metabolic rate, which provides an estimate of how much energy Eddie’s body needs to sustain its basic functions to stay alive, was nearly double what is typically seen in a recreationally active male and female.
Eddie’s muscular strength and power were extremely high and easily surpassed what staff and students had seen during any previous sports science testing with athletes. What is even more astonishing is that these incredible results were achieved less thIMG_20160202_143053899an 3 days after Eddie’s victory at the British Strongest Man Championships. As Dr Dean Burt explains, “it can take up to 4 – 6 weeks to fully recover from a bout of strenuous exercise. Given the incredible amount of physical strain Eddie would have put his muscles through to win Britain’s Strongest Man, he would have arrived for testing in a heavily muscle damaged state whereby maximal strength and power might have been reduced by as much as 30 – 40%. It is not difficult to assume that the exceptional strength and power results Eddie achieved today are only a fraction of what he can actually produce”.

The gruelling afternoon of testing finished with a full-body massage from one of current undergraduate Sports Therapy students, and in fact, Eddie’s current sports therapist is Thomas Hatrick, a 2015 graduate of Sports Therapy from Staffordshire University.

On Eddie’s visit to the Sport and Exercise Science Laboratories, Dr Jacky Forsyth said that “the experience had provided the Sport and Exercise Science students, who assisted with the tests today, a really unique and fascinating insight into what it takes to become one of the world’s strongest men”.
Finally, Head of School, Dr Peter Jones, added that “we would like to thank Eddie for visiting the Sport and Exercise Science Laboratories and we very much look forward to supporting him in his future quest to become the World’s Strongest Man”.

Please click on the links for more information about similar sports science and sports therapy services we offer through the Peak Condition and Sports Therapy (SUST) clinics.