Jim Crawford is the manager of the Republic of Ireland U21 football team. He joined the MSc Applied Sports Coaching in September 2021, and we asked him to share his thoughts on the programme to date.
What were your main reasons for studying the MSc Applied Sports Coaching programme?
The reasons why I decided to pursue the MSc Applied Sports Coaching programme was to delve deeper into the WHY I do WHAT I do. To get the science behind coaching has been a real eye opener for me and the programme has surpassed all expectations already. To challenge and get challenged from like-minded coaches on the programme was also an attraction. I want to become the best possible coach that I can, and to do this I need to be mentored by my peers and course leaders.
Did you have a highlight of the first semester?
First of all, getting to know my peers has been a highlight. Getting the background to their coaching was interesting and set up the first semester nicely. With regard to the modules, I have taken so much from the coaching behaviour assignment. It was an eye opener for me to look back on my coaching and dissect my behaviours in detail. This study enabled me to create an action plan for me to develop an even more productive coaching environment underpinned by these coaching behaviours.
What has the level of support from staff been like?
The level of support has been excellent. For me being out of formal education for so long, I was quite apprehensive to begin with. I was quickly made comfortable by the open door policy that the leaders encourage. All questions and queries are answered very promptly and you are never in a position of uncertainty with regard to what to do. My peers have been very helpful too with regard to pointing me in the right direction with assignments.
How did you manage studying in addition to your work and coaching?
My only issue is when I am approaching a camp and during a camp; I find it a challenge to stay on top of my work load. I understood this before I took on the course so it hasn’t come as a surprise. I am very fortunate to work full time in coaching so a lot of what I learn in class I can almost put it straight to the test during the International camps.
What were your thoughts on the assessments?
The assessments are challenging but very enjoyable. As mentioned before, I have been a long time out of the education system so typing up assignments and recording presentations has been time consuming but also increasing my skillset!
The assessments get me into a learning zone and also challenges certain theories I had with regard to my coaching. The assessments give me an opportunity to drill deep into aspects of my coaching that I have never done before. The COVID situation has presented a challenge where sometimes you feel isolated but my peers run a weekly informal meeting via Microsoft Teams where you can ask questions in relation to the assessments.
What are you most looking forward to in the remainder of the programme?
I am looking forward to more challenges whatever they may be! To get an opportunity to see my peers coaching is something that excites me as I am always fascinated to see how dedicated coaches work and communicate with their staff and players and see what environment they have created.
Where can I read more about the programme?
You can find out more about the programme here, and about further coaching-related activities at UL here.
Take a look at #MScAppliedSportsCoachingUL where you will find insights such as exemplar pre-course activities and examples of the type of research we will be engaging with.
If you are interested in the programme or require further information please contact:
Dr Philip Kearney PhD
Course Director – MSc Applied Sports Coaching
Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences
University of Limerick