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Combining coaching experience with a higher level qualification

James Wildsmith completed a two-year Higher National Diploma (HND) in Sports Coaching at Stourbridge College. He will now top up his course with a full honours degree at the University of Worcester.

“Studying this way has lots of advantages,” explained James. “The class sizes are smaller, the course fees are cheaper and it’s much easier to build relationships with your tutors because you spend more time with them.

“The course itself covers every aspect of coaching such as physiology, psychology and the application of sports coaching. You’re taken from the theory side of sports science into the practical applications of coaching and performance analysis. It’s a very relatable course, especially because everything I learn is backed up by my coaching experience.”

James’ CV includes volunteer coaching stints at schools in Dudley and Shrewsbury. He has even coached in America through a football coaching academy in New England.

“I’ve been coaching in various ways for the last five years,” said James. “It’s something that developed naturally from my time playing football and then became something I was keen to turn into a career.”

After completing A Levels, James started a degree in criminology but left during his first year after deciding it wasn’t a study route he wanted to follow. He had also injured his knee and needed to take a year out while he recovered. His volunteer coaching career began along with an opportunity to gain a Level 2 Football Association coaching qualification as well as a FA Youth Award.

“I do feel lucky that I’ve been able to do so much coaching, all of it very different but equally useful in helping me develop my skills,” continued James. “But without a higher level qualification to back up what I’ve done, I know I’ll be held back from going any further, which is why I’m doing my course.”


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