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Active Hearts exercise session

Uni work placements: the best part of my degree

Hi – I’m Darja and in this blog I’m going to tell you about my experience of work placements at university.

My Sports Coaching degree involved compulsory placements in the second and third year. The way you find and do placements is different for each course but for my degree we could find our own placements.

I was a bit nervous about doing it as I didn’t have much previous coaching experience- and there was a lockdown! But I did know what I was interested in – working with elderly people – and I wanted to gain experience in this area.

What I liked most about my university work placement

I really enjoyed the placement, and I got a lot out of it. I loved the excellent regular feedback I was given. I had the opportunity to progress and do a little bit more each week. It really helped grow my self-confidence, as I could see how far I had come.

I gained in confidence

In the end, I was able to comfortably lead a chair-based exercise session, a big step forward from just observing which I did when I first started.

The placement really helped me understand how to coach people with particular needs, and work out the best individual approach to help them.

It helped me find my ‘real’ area of interest

My experiences from my second-year placement also helped me discover that my real area of interest was coaching in a rehabilitation setting. So when the pandemic eased off, I decided to gain some in-person experience with a different rehabilitative population.

This led me to do my third-year placement with the Active Hearts cardiac rehabilitation group, which is based here at The University of Brighton. This involved working with people recovering from heart attacks, encouraging and helping them to do personalised gym-based exercise programmes.

I learned new strategies that were incredibly useful

This was a great experience because I got to learn more about and understand rehabilitation clients’ motivations for exercise, which weren’t quite what I expected. People enjoy the social side and knowing that helped me to learn strategies I could use to motivate and help people.

It also gave me an insight into the cardiac rehabilitation referral process works in real life, which I found incredibly useful as I’m now planning to go into the NHS.

Online coaching was a bit different to the in-person coaching I had done on the course. I had to think about how I use my voice and camera angle, but I worked out how to do this.

Finding a university work placement in a pandemic

Finding a second-year placement was challenging in the middle of the pandemic, but I did eventually manage to find one with Rehab4You, which provides specialised physiotherapy for people with neurological conditions.

My placement involved working with a small group of elderly stroke patients, coaching chair-based exercises helping a qualified physiotherapist. And it was on Zoom.

Online coaching or in-person coaching?

Online coaching was a bit different to the in-person coaching I had done on the course. I had to think about how I use my voice and camera angle, but I worked out how to do this.

My uni work placement was the best part of my degree!

Although I didn’t expect it, my placements ended up being the best part of my whole degree. I can’t believe how useful they have been.

Student looking at their phone

Word from the uni…

For more information about this course, visit University of Brighton’s Sport Coaching BSc page.

Find out more about University of Brighton’s work placements.

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Darja Knotkova-Hanley • 10th October 2022

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