Joseph (Joe) Taylor completed a BSc in Sports Science in 2002 which led to an interest in the area of performance analysis and the completion of a PhD focusing on performance analysis in football.
Since completing his PhD he has been employed by the English Institute of Sport, holding two positions: first, between 2007 and mid-2013 working as the Performance Analyst with British Disability Swimming and providing support to the Great Britain team at numerous competitions including two Paralympic Games (Beijing 2008 and London 2012). Since July 2013 Joe has transitioned to a Performance Pathway Scientist and works across all Paralympic sports to assist with identifying and developing talented athletes.
Working in elite sport brings a number of challenges including long and unsociable hours, many of which are spent away from home at training camps and competitions. Joe says the high pressure nature of elite sport and the lack of time to get things done causes sleepless nights, but the opportunity to apply his knowledge and skills to assist in athlete development and ultimately contribute to Great Britain’s sporting success is the most satisfying aspect of the role. Joe adds, “the job has also led to a number of other unique and fulfilling experiences such as being able to travel the world and being invited to attend the Queen’s Summer Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.”
Joe said he chose to study at Swansea University as the Sports Science degree was perfect for his development. On attending an open day, his thoughts were confirmed: “My degrees have provided me with knowledge and skills that are essential for a scientist working in elite sport. The diversity of the course which ultimately enabled me to obtain a broad knowledge of Sports Science while facilitating my desire to specialise in the analysis of performance. The staff were also fantastic and ensured that learning was challenging but fun.”
Joe continues, “Furthermore, the experience gained alongside my studies (working with Swansea City FC, Llanelli FC and Afan Lido AFC) allowed me to demonstrate that I not only know the relevant theories but that I can also apply them to positively impact on athlete performance. This was critical to obtaining employment with the English Institute of Sport.”
“I had an amazing seven and a half years in Swansea and the memories come flooding back on my regular return trips to the city. I fondly reminisce of the university, the Sports Science Department, the Jiu Jitsu club, the nights out and of the many friends made. More than anything, I miss living by the sea, the beaches and beauty of Gower, the restaurants in Mumbles and Swansea itself.”
Joe is now looking forward to the exciting challenges of the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janiero and the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo that lie ahead and has the following advice for current students and recent graduates:
“The job market in elite sport is extremely competitive and a degree alone is unlikely to be enough to secure employment. It is critical to be proactive in seeking out additional opportunities, such as applied work experience, that complement and enhance your degree(s). To this effect, I have previously encouraged students to start looking at job descriptions for the types of jobs they are interested in as soon as possible (even in the first year of a degree) so that they know what is required to land their dream job. Researching a job towards the end of your degree or after graduation will mean that there will be gaps in your skills and experience and you will have failed to identify ways to set yourself apart from your peers.”