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If you know your stuff, you can apply it to any sport

Professor Matt Greig

At Edge Hill our suite of laboratories, clinics and specialist practical spaces gives students an opportunity to put theory into practice. This learning experience is supported by staff who also have experience of working in practice, and their breadth of experience reflects the diversity of professional roles that support elite sport.

Your learning is therefore informed by staff who have perhaps done the job that you aspire to – staff like Professor Matt Greig, one of the Sports Therapy Teaching staff at Edge Hill.

Picture of Professor Matt Greig

Matt joined Edge Hill from his role as Exercise Scientist at the Football Association. Prior to this, he completed his PhD investigating the influence of fatigue on the mechanisms of football injury, and subsequently worked with the England football teams for a number of years, putting theory into practice. We asked Matt about how these experiences have shaped his teaching and research at Edge Hill.

“My first experience of working in elite sport was straight after graduation from my undergraduate degree, where I worked in sports science support for the Great Britain track & field team for four years. These were not my sports, but it was a great experience in trusting that if you know your stuff you can apply it to any sport. I worked in elite, professional rugby union, rugby league and football as a practitioner, and these experiences with athletes really shaped my research interests early in my academic career. Those real-life experiences helped me to develop research questions that were actually of interest and value to the athletes.

For my PhD I developed a treadmill programme to replicate the demands of a professional football match, because I wanted to see how fatigue increased the risk of injury – in particular, how fatigue affects strength, balance, coordination, and technique. You can actually have a go at this yourself in our labs here – in fact, I used the same equipment you will use in our labs while you’re studying with us. That piece of work has been published in world leading journals and helped in getting the job with the Football Association. I got to work with the England teams from the Under 16s all the way through to a senior game at Wembley. I think the blend of research and practice is invaluable in teaching, not just in providing theories, but also reflecting on how this works in the real world.

Many of my colleagues in the Department have similar experiences, working in sport across a breadth of roles that reflect our suite of undergraduate programmes. It certainly helps when we have done the job that you aspire to – as we can do a much better job of guiding you.”

Matt also had some great advice about getting stuck in during your undergraduate degree, and not being afraid to get involved with research that interests you.

Vikings player (American football) throwing ball to teammate in a match.
Aerial picture of several people stood on football pitch.

“I think it is important to stay involved in elite sport, to make sure that your teaching is relevant. It also really helps to shape my research, which also then informs my teaching. If you know your sport, and can develop the academic skills, then you can create some really innovative work even as an undergraduate student.

I am immensely proud that some of our students have actually published their own work in international journals, work that they did as part of their dissertation at Edge Hill as final year undergraduate students.”

Matt was proud to tell us about the recent feedback the programme has had from current students, and how satisfaction like this often leads to ongoing working relationships with students after graduation.

“I teach on our BSc (Hons) Sports Therapy programme, and earlier in 2020 we scored 100% for Overall Satisfaction in the National Student Survey. That is the best indicator of student experience, when our own students are so positive. It’s a great feeling when they then go on to work in elite sport and stay in touch, and even better when they then take our current students on for placement opportunities!”

Studying at Edge Hill, your learning will always be informed by real-world situations, ensuring that all your knowledge and skills are of value to the people you’ll go on to work with. Matt is passionate about encouraging his students to make the most of the facilities available to them, to prepare for a successful career.

Picture of several Vikings (American football) teammates stood together.

“It’s great to be able to influence and motivate students to enjoy a career in elite sport. It’s about more than just getting a certificate after 3 years, those practical experiences are vital. We are here to help you on your way, to help you shape your path. We work hard to ensure that all your knowledge and skills can be applied to the world of elite sport, so that everything you learn will be of use to the athletes you’ll go on to work with. I still work with professional football clubs, and that generates research that has value in practice, as well as generating fantastic placement opportunities for students. Staying involved with the sector also allows me to bring anecdotal evidence and provide some context to my teaching.

Our facilities are the envy of professional teams, and some will come and use them during pre-season. That’s a great opportunity for you to experience putting theory into practice and see how the reality differs from the text book – and you’ll also have the opportunity to practice using all of the state of the art equipment you would find out on your work placements.”

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