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PhD student: Steven Jones

Steven is undertaking his PhD by distance and is exploring injury prevalence, strength training and performance in youth football. His supervisor is Dr Morgan Williams.

I am a fully accredited strength and conditioning coach with the UKSCA.  Originally, I am from Liverpool but, for the last 14 years I have worked in professional football mainly at academy level.  Over this time, I have worked across the world in countries like UAE (Al Ain SC), Russia (FC Zenit St Petersburg and FC Anzhi Makhachkala), China (Dalian) and at the moment I am based in India, working for RG Punjab FC.

Over the years I have seen a lot of players frustrated and unable to train due to non-contact lower limb injuries. When a player sustains an injury there can be harmful consequences for physical performance (i.e., speed, endurance, strength) which negatively influences talent development and potentially long-term health and well-being. With this in mind, it was important for me to develop an objective understanding of aetiology, mechanisms and consequence of injury at academy level, since the majority of research is on senior professional players. Investigating these issues will help drive the talent development process by assisting those working in an academy setting to make informed decisions about injury reduction and strength training.  

Before committing to studying a PhD, I spoke with several potential supervisors from UK and abroad.  For some time, I had followed with great interest the work of the Hamstring Injury Research Group of which Dr Morgan Williams is a member.  Since my interests were injury and strength training, Morgan was the perfect fit due to his research and applied practice experience.  

To have a director of studies like Morgan has been great because I receive the highest level of PhD supervision, but I also gain practical advice on contemporary strength and sports performance-based training, and am collaborating with Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers youth academies.  

To date, my PhD process at USW has been enjoyable since I have significantly increased both my theoretical knowledge and applied practice skills well beyond my expectations.  

PhD distance learning

From the very start of my PhD journey, the supervision and guidance that I have received from distance has been of the highest quality whether I am in or out of the UK.  My work continues as if I on campus.     

Not having to travel to campus for meetings or training sessions on testing equipment has been very time and financially efficient.  From a time-management point of view, I have been able to concentrate more on writing and submission of manuscripts, which has really helped my self-development and ultimately my CV.  

Despite being based in a couple of different time zones over the course of my PhD (first China and now India) this has not slowed the progression of my research or the submission to high-impact journals.  In my current situation where I am based in India, the ability to have consistent contact with my director of studies has facilitated the progress my thesis and recently the publication my second paper in a high-impact journal.  

Remote study and supervision

Dr Morgan Williams has a wealth of experience with remote working due to his involvement in the Hamstring Injury Research Group. Morgan is incredibly understanding and is always accessible whether that be via Skype, Zoom or more recently on Microsoft Teams.  We keep in weekly contact through emails and usually meet once a month where I provide an update on journal submission and how my thesis is progressing, this also gives me a chance to access the latest research in other areas of sports performance research that Morgan is involved in.  

Being a self-funded PhD student, I could have studied almost anywhere, but the decision to study under Morgan could not have worked out any better.  I’ve been incredibly lucky to have a dedicated and understanding director of studies, this has enabled me to work abroad in total confidence that my PhD would not suffer in any way.