Currently Strength and Conditioning Coach for Arsenal Women Football Club as well as running her own personal training business, Amy Shaw tells us about how she is now looking after elite athletes following her London Met Sport Science degree (now Sport and Exercise Science BSc).
Why did you choose to study at London Met?
I chose to study at London Met after looking into universities that were closer to home that offered me the right courses. After going to the open day here I knew it was the right place to go. I met lecturers who were extremely helpful in giving advice about what to expect and what university involved. After having a tour of the science and sport centre I could see the new facilities were top class and would offer me a great place to learn and take a step towards my chosen career in professional sport.
What were the highlights of your degree?
Over my three years of study there were many highlights. In my first year, a firm highlight was being thrown into the deep end, attending freshers' events and making new friends I’d spend the next few years with!
I remember being so nervous when I was introduced to my flatmates on our move-in day – I have made memories for life at university. The best highlight for me has to be graduation – after years of hard work and determination I finally felt it was all worth it. It was great to celebrate with family and enjoy the day together.
How did your course prepare you for the world of work?
My course most certainly prepared me for the world of work, especially in my industry. One of our modules was called Work Experience – the name speaks for itself. It made me go out in search of one-hundred hours to be completed across four months, September to December.
I applied for a year-long work experience placement at AFC Wimbledon as an Academy Sport Scientist. Anyway, that led to five football seasons and a promotion at the club! University gave me the tools to become the Lead Academy Sport Scientist and Strength & Conditioning Coach at AFC Wimbledon. Going to London Met also opened the door to completing my MSc in Strength and Conditioning, a route I was keen to specialise in. So without attending London Met, neither my current job role or the progression into postgraduate study would have been possible.
What are your top tips for first-time university students?
I have a few top tips! My first would be to have fun, make great friends and memories – you don’t want to look back on your experience and hate it! My second would be to try new things and get out of your comfort zone, join a sports team or club. Thirdly, manage your time wisely... university is great fun but remember why you are there in the first place. Schedule time in your diary to knuckle down and study hard. The harder you study the easier your assignments and exams will be!
Tell us about your current position and how you got there
I'm going into my fourth season working with Arsenal Women Football Club with the Under 21's and college programmes as their Strength and Conditioning Coach. I do speed testing, looking at the players’ speed and acceleration. I run agility tests, getting the players to turn on their left and right-hand sides. This in turn tests their balance and enables me to see which side potentially needs a bit of work.
Physical screening is another key area of my role. To test the players’ landing mechanics, I get them to jump off a platform, land and explode up into another jump.
I’ll also carry out posture assessments, to see if they’ve got rounded shoulders or if they need to work on their upper back. Then there’s the more conventional stuff like gym work, so things like deadlifts and bench press.
As with any football club, some people will pick up certain things quicker than others. That’s always a challenge in my role, but one I really enjoy.
Before that, I worked as the Lead Academy Sport Scientist and Strength & Conditioning Coach at AFC Wimbledon. The role came as a promotion from my work experience at the club.
I worked hard to get where I am today and it’s been worth it. I get to work with elite youth athletes in a sport I love – the best thing for me is seeing how I can improve an athlete's performance and watch them flourish.
I also run my own business part time, I’m currently branching into the world of online personal training to help as many people as I can! My company is called SHAW FIT Complete Coaching, and I offer fitness, lifestyle, sports performance, nutrition and mindset coaching for all ages and abilities. It’s down to key skills learnt over my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees that have helped me to excel and grow my business to the level it's at now.
"I worked hard to get where I am today and it’s been worth it. I get to work with elite youth athletes in a sport I love – the best thing for me is seeing how I can improve an athlete's performance and watch them flourish."