PhD: Dr Steven Jones

Steven's PhD explored injury prevalence, strength training and performance in youth football. Based overseas, he completed his PhD by Distance, and was supervised by Dr Morgan Williams of the Injury, Training Load and Monitoring, Rehabilitation Group.

Steven has accepted an invitation to join the very prestigious Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Department of Sports Medicine in the Norwegian School of Sport Science, Oslo, Norway (OSTRC) as a visiting research fellow. Steven has also gained employment in Saudi Arabia at the Mahd Academy as a senior strength and conditioning scientist. "Steven now can continue to develop research skills and diversity of publications as part of their research team," said Dr Morgan Williams, his doctoral supervisor.

Background to the PhD

"I am a fully accredited strength and conditioning coach with the UKSCA," said Steven. "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 RG Punjab FC in India.

"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 was great because I received the highest level of PhD supervision, but I also gained practical advice on contemporary strength and sports performance-based training, and had the chance to collaborate with Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers youth academies. I 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 received from distance was of the highest quality whether I was in or out of the UK.  

"Not having to travel to campus for meetings or training sessions on testing equipment was both time and financially efficient.  It allowed me to concentrate more on writing and submission of manuscripts, which 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 did not slow the progression of my research or the submission to high-impact journals.  The ability to have consistent contact with my director of studies facilitated the progress of my thesis and the publication of papers in high-impact journals.  

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. I found him incredibly understanding and is  accessible whether on Skype, Zoom or Microsoft Teams.  We kept in weekly contact through emails and usually met once a month for me to provide an update on journal submission and how my thesis was progressing. This also gave me the chance to access the latest research in other areas of sports performance research that Morgan was 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 was incredibly lucky to have a dedicated and understanding director of studies. This enabled me to work abroad in total confidence that my PhD would not suffer in any way."