We get to know another member of staff behind the scenes at Staplewood, to find out more about building the fitness and physicality of our Academy graduates...
Name Jonathan Woodhouse
Job title Academy Strength & Conditioning Coach (Professional Development Phase)
Year joined 2013 & 2016
When/how did you develop an interest in Sport Science?
I guess my career in Sport Science began when I joined the University of Bath back in 2011 to study Sport and Exercise Science as an undergraduate. As I was growing up, I realistically knew that I wasn’t going to make it professionally, but I always wanted to be involved in football in some domain. During my third year at University, I completed a work placement with Saints working closely within the professional development phase alongside Alek Gross (Head of Sports Science), and this confirmed I wanted to continue working in Sport Science.
How did your job at Saints come about?
After completing my work placement in 2013/14, I continued to keep in close contact with the club, as my final year project analysed the physical match data focusing on the differences between age groups and positions. From then on, I always kept a close eye on vacancies and in June 2016, an Academy Data Scientist position came up, before I progressed to Academy S&C Coach.
What does a normal working week look like for you?
It’s normally a six-day working week working with the Under-18 squad. I would get into Staplewood around 7:30am every day and leave about 6pm. The squad train from Monday to Friday before a Saturday match in the U18 Premier League. Although the hours are long, it’s a very satisfying role knowing you can make a real difference. Not many people can say their job does not feel like work.
How does your work help improve performance?
As a department, we put time and effort into a range of areas including physical testing, injury exposure data, daily GPS monitoring and well-being, training and match data, body composition data and psychometric testing. We measure various things and look at the differences from expected values for that individual. We know and understand that individuals will have different profiles but we’re looking for differences outside of that normal profile for that player in order to make any amendments to training programmes, whether it be on-field or in the gym, or a way they may be able to improve their performance. We have similar processes across age groups.
You play a key role in the annual Sports Science Undergraduate Summit – tell us about that…
I work closely alongside Sam Beaglehole & Tom John in delivering the summit each year. For the previous two seasons, we have invited undergraduates from across the country to Staplewood, allowing them to gain an insight into the practicalities of delivering applied sports science within professional football. Not only do undergraduates witness how applied sports science varies from an Academy setting to first-team level, but appreciate and understand how the multiple disciplines are incorporated into daily practice. We’re looking forward to hosting the event again this season.
What advice would you give aspiring sport scientists trying to land a job in football?
I advise all young Sport Science enthusiasts and students to take every opportunity, it doesn’t matter if it’s one night a week at your local football team or assisting one of your University clubs on a Wednesday afternoon – all the experience adds up. Your degree will only give you so much but the practical experience is invaluable. However, be cautious and remember that you are still in the infancy of your career so instead of being critical, ensure you are willing to learn as much as you can and reflect on what you have done or seen. I have been told by many people that you only get out what you put in, and they are absolutely spot on. Ultimately, my advice is to keep learning, focus on your skillset and be open to every opportunity available to you.