English Institute of Sport (EIS) Performance Lead LIZ SINTON is a former international hockey player who still plays at National Premier League level with Clifton Ladies.
She spent nearly a decade as a Strength and Conditioning Coach before taking on her current role and explains what attracted her to a career in high performance sport and how she views the future for Women in Sport.
Sport has always been a huge part of my life. My granddad was the traditional athletic trainer of his era and both my mother and grandmother were international level athletes, so I grew up with sport and the values it instils.
Our holidays were like training camps alongside GB motor cross and water skiing athletes, inclusive of hill sprints and high knees, but whilst I’d always wanted a career in sport, it wasn’t until I was part of the England U21 Hockey squad that I got the bug for Strength and Conditioning (S&C).
There I worked alongside an EIS S&C coach who established the training programme for the squad and I found I really enjoyed getting underneath a heavy barbell, running to exhaustion and pushing myself to the max. Realising I could have a career coaching others to do the same seemed like an absolute dream so I applied to the UK Sport Fast-Track practitioner programme and haven’t looked back since.
For nearly ten years I worked as an S&C coach with a vast number of sports including Swimming, Para Canoe, Modern Pentathlon, Judo, Athletics and Sailing, with a highlight being the journey I went on with British Swimming from 2008 to London 2012 as part of the team at the Intensive Training Centre in Bath.
It started as a new centre in 2008 and achieved three personal best swims and a silver medal at London 2012. I believe I was part of a very special team there with head coach and sport science working in alignment and athletes inputting and taking ownership of their training plans.
Last year I was offered a role as a Performance Lead at the EIS, where I work with a range of Olympic and Paralympic sports. My role is to work with the sports to better understand their performance needs, support practitioners and multidisciplinary teams to align their work to meet these needs, and facilitate research and innovation projects when it is felt a further performance gain can be made.
It’s a varied and challenging role but my time as a Strength and conditioning coach provided me with many transferable skills. The ability to build relationships and rapport quickly, communicate effectively with numerous parties and effectively problem solve is what both an S&C coach and Performance lead do each day. These skills combined with the technical expertise and passion for sport performance assisted my career move.
For me that passion is key to working in elite sport. As a female I think you do have to be tough willed and self-assured as it can seem like a male dominated world, particularly in an area like S&C, but I can honestly say that I have always felt I have been treated fairly.
As careers in sport science have become more popular over the years, the standard and number of the coaches in the system has increased and I believe there are more females interested in the pursuing it, perhaps as a result of having female athletes as role models in the media, female athletes transitioning from their sporting ambitions to coaching and weight lifting becoming more accessible and mainstream in the fitness world – whatever the reason I am in full support of it.
The challenge that mother-nature has put upon us is not likely to change, however in modern day society there is a lot of support available for working mothers so I cannot see any reason why there won’t be more women working in sport in the future.
There are more opportunities now for people to get into sport, regardless of gender. If someone wants to work in sport, has the passion and is prepared to commit to the lifestyle that comes with it, then there are ways to do it.
The fact that we have a week to celebrate women in sport will only raise the profile and opportunities that are available, so let’s get the message out there!
The EIS (www.eis2win.co.uk) helps athletes to improve performance through the delivery of science, medicine and technology. It is the UK’s largest provider of sport science and its 300+ employees deliver more than 4,000 hours to over 1,700 elite athletes.