Developing guidelines for effective internship within strength and conditioning

Project: Research project

Project Details


With more and more UK universities offering both undergraduate and master’s degrees in the field of strength and conditioning, the field has become more competitive where there are more individuals than there are jobs (Read et al. 2016). For individuals to gain successful employment within the field of strength and conditioning, Jeffreys (2013) outlines three things that individuals need to gain employment. Firstly, some form of formal education through either a BSc or MSc in Sport Science or strength and conditioning; secondly that they hold a professional accreditation and finally that they have an appropriate level of experience coaching athletes. It is this final point that may students have not always had opportunity to undertake as part of their formal education. As a consequence, we are now seeing more students undertake formal placements so that they can accumulate experience coaching athletes (Stewart et al. 2016).

Internships are common place on undergraduate sports degrees as they offer students the opportunity to apply knowledge and skills learnt in a formal setting in a safe and real-world environment (Dorgo, 2009; Piovani et al 2019). Internships are not exclusive to sport science disciplines and are common place in professions such as medicine (Keshk et al. 2018) teaching (Theleen et al. 2020) and engineering (Diaz, 2022). Yet, with strength and conditioning being a relatively new field in sport science, internships within strength and conditioning are a relatively new when compared to older disciplines outlined previously. As a consequence, there has been a number of concerns around the way internships are run, roles and responsibilities of individuals and the exploitation of students as “free labour” (Brannigan, 2016; Malone, 2017; Read et al. 2016; Stewart et al. 2016).

In response to concerns raised by both practitioners and academics of the quality of strength and conditioning internships, the UK Strength and Conditioning Association (UKSCA) released an “Intern Pack” (2018) outlining the definitions of a placement/internship and when individuals should be paid; expectations and current experiences of those who have completed internships within the field. Whilst this was a step in the right direction, there is little to no guidance as to what should be included in a strength and conditioning internship or what makes an effective internship. As a result, two individuals completing a strength and conditioning internship in the same sport for the same length of time but at different clubs may face vastly different experiences (Read et al 2016).

With more of the BSc Strength and Conditioning students wanting to undertake the integrated placement module and the creation of the postgraduate placement module on the MSc Strength and Conditioning course, now is a good time for us to review what makes a good internship that assists in the development of our student achieving excellent graduate outcomes. Therefore, the aim of this project is to invite practitioners who run internships and current and alumni students who have completed internships to participate in a focus group to discuss how what makes an effective internship. The focus group data will be analysed to determine themes that emerge from the focus groups. As a result, we would aim to develop a Hartpury University internship guide for practitioners to use which could then be disseminated to further NGB’s.
Effective start/end date1/1/2331/7/23


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