Case study

Senior sport psychologist and lecturer — Andrew Cruickshank

Andrew enjoys combining research and teaching with practical work enhancing the sporting performance of elite judo athletes

How did you get your job?

After graduating with a BSc Psychology and MSc Performance Psychology, both from The University of Edinburgh, I undertook the Stage 2 Qualification in Sport & Exercise Psychology alongside a PhD in Sport Psychology at the University of Central Lancashire.

Upon completing my thesis I was fortunate to be given a chance to continue my research as part of a teaching role at the same university. In terms of my applied work, after finishing the Stage 2 Qualification I continued to practice privately before being given an opportunity to become senior sport psychologist for the British Judo Association.

I enjoy helping others to deliver on their potential, making a difference to performance and contributing to advances in professional practice

How relevant is your degree to your job?

Extremely. I wouldn't be able to do the jobs I do now without my degrees.

What are your main work activities?

In my university role I mainly act as a tutor for students on our distance-learning based professional Masters and Doctorate programmes. A typical day involves remote tutorials and discussions or a site visit to help each individual with their personalised programme. In between, I do a lot of research on applied topics.

In my applied work, a typical day involves observing and assisting training activities as well as working as part of an interdisciplinary support team. I also work with team management on the overall performance system and environment.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

Having only started my current roles relatively recently, these haven't changed too much to date. Moving forward, I would expect to have higher expectations placed on me for securing income for my university, continuing publication efforts and managing links with the sport psychology/performance 'industry'.

In terms of my career ambitions, I would like to continue to balance and extend on my academic and applied work in the immediate future.

Longer term, I would like to put myself in a position to potentially lead a performance-focused team or department within a university, take on a leadership/management role within elite sport, and contribute to the training/development of applied sport psychologists.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I feel extremely fortunate to be in two environments where the people I work with have a real passion for their professions, performance, and personal development.

I enjoy helping others to deliver on their potential, making a difference to performance and contributing to advances in professional practice.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

Beyond balancing my time, the biggest challenge is probably the need to be constantly creative in identifying, designing and deploying bespoke performance solutions.

Perhaps not surprisingly, however, this can also be where some of the greatest rewards come from.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

Where possible, speak to a wide a range of people before you make the call to go for it: senior practitioners, those in the early stages of their career, those who have just finished their Stage 2 training, and those just getting started on their MSc.

Also, take note that while there are more and more courses providing the opening steps toward chartered/registered status, there are still relatively few full-time, (and arguably part-time), roles. Going 'above and beyond' in your training is crucial.

It's a relatively long, (and unfortunately not cheap), journey but if it's the one for you and you have the drive to succeed then get in there.

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