Sport psychology students' field trip

Manchester Academy

Day 1

Our journey began as we departed from Liverpool John Moores University – our first stop of the trip was at the Awesome Walls Rock Climbing Centre in Stockport where we embraced on our first activity of our two days away. The coach journey to Stockport allowed us to get to know the people we didn’t know so well and catch-up with the people that we have bonds with already. Before we knew it, we had arrived at the rock climbing centre.

We arrived in sunny Stockport for our first obstacle (fear of heights!) for a number of my colleagues. I personally hate heights, but my team really helped me overcome my fear with their continuous support, high morals and banter.

“A fun and challenging activity that enabled people to interact with colleagues who they might have not talked to before. I thoroughly enjoyed it due to its team bonding and group cohesive atmosphere.” – Apo De Makoso

Once we had accomplished our goals, we had a refuelling period which was over in no time as we needed to make our way to the Manchester United Football Club Aon Training Complex in Carrington.

Climbing wall

On arrival at Carrington we were greeted by Daniel Ransom, Academy Sport Psychologist, and Chris McCready, Academy Player Care Assistant. During our time at Carrington, we embarked on a grand tour of the Aon Training Complex, where we saw some of the youth teams training and took in the immense facilities. After the tour, we then got to hear more from Dan and Chris as they opened up about their journeys to becoming employees of Manchester United. It was clear that they had both experienced very different paths to becoming what they are today. Chris was an ex-professional footballer who wanted to give something back to the world of football and chose to do a degree at LJMU once his footballing career was over. Whereas Dan, started at LJMU on the Applied Sport Psychology course, followed by the MSc Sport Psychology and is now undergoing his Prof Doc at LJMU, as well working as the Sport Psychology support at Manchester United Academy.

We then got to experience a number of psychological interventions that Dan would use with the young people at Manchester United. A student was challenged by Dan to complete as many keepy-uppies as he could do, whereas another student was set a task of completing 100 keepy-uppies and they would both win a bottle of water, but the latter would hypothetically win £100. This created an incentive for the student to achieve the goal set by Dan, as he could potentially win £100. This was an example of one of the methods Dan uses with the academy footballers to teach them about the different types of motivation.

We also embarked on another activity the young people would do at Manchester United, which was to match up the professional footballer to which hobby or career they also do. An example of this was Yannick Bolasie who in his spare time enjoys writing poetry and rapping. The identity activity showed us that the professional footballers do things outside of their footballing lives, which suggested that the young people at Manchester United were pushed to thinking of having another plan of action just in case they didn’t make it as a professional footballer, as there is less than 1% of a chance that they would ever make it as a professional footballer.

“Overall it was a worthwhile trip, which provided a unique and valuable insight into professional environments and how course content is delivered in the real world.” – James Sowerby

It was time for us to depart from Carrington and head to Sheffield for the night. The rush hour traffic turned into a three-and-a-half-hour journey in which we exploited to catch up on sleep for the night ahead of us, as well as upcoming assignments and feedback about our trip to the Aon Training Complex. As we arrived at the hotel in Sheffield, we decided as a group that we would go out for food and see where the night takes us. The evening out in Sheffield really helped us to integrate as a group and we got to really know some people we would not normally interact with on the course.

Day 2

This was a very early start for some people to say the very least, as our alarms went off at 7am to start the day nice and early. We made the most of a full English breakfast cooked by someone other than ourselves and caught up on the activities from the previous day before setting off for our next highly anticipated activity of the trip.

We were in the middle of the Yorkshire countryside on a little farm in what felt like the middle of nowhere. We all bustled into the archery shed and our competitive energy took over. After a brief demonstration, bets were made over who was going to beat who and we proceeded to shoot. The natural talents shone very quickly amongst the group.


After a short drive we arrived at the English Institute of Sport (EiS). We were greeted on our arrival and given a grand tour of the building. This consisted of visiting the GB Paralympic Basketball training courts for women and men, followed by the netball courts which are used by a mixture of the general public, universities, schools and GB athletes. We also saw the indoor 200m athletics arena. This is used both for GB practice (it’s where Jessica Ennis trained), and for events such as school sports days. There were also two multi-purpose sports halls and a table tennis and badminton hall. We also had a tour of the GB Boxing centre and had some information of who trained in the gym, including big names like Anthony Joshua. The public have access to the main EiS gym in the building, which had some very fancy top brand equipment. After the tour, we sat down and had a delicious lunch to perk our energy back up, which was much needed after a busy morning.

The main talk at the EiS was from Hannah Levi and Hugh Gilmore who have been through the sport psychology training process. They talked to us about their experiences, how they have been through the pathway to get to where they are today and the different routes that they have been through. I found this talk very useful and eye opening. They took time to answer each of our individual questions as well as giving us some tips and advice for the future. The key information that I took away from that talk was how varied the experiences you get should be and how key communication is when used properly (e.g. not stepping on other people’s toes too much - if at all!). Others have said that the guest speakers really impressed them.

“The efforts they made to put us in touch with the realities of working in sport psychology.” – Gina McNab

It was time to load back onto the coach and head back to Liverpool. The three-hour coach journey consisted of games, naps and chatter and all in all helped us bond even more.

We all agreed that the activities and trip really helped us all bond with people we hadn’t spent as much time with, or only see for a couple of hours a week for lectures and seminars. The trip helped us bond as a cohort and enjoy each other’s company outside of sitting in lectures taking notes.

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