Case Study 4 - The sport/life balance
Today’s performance athlete is bombarded by a mix of competing stimuli including studies, work, relationships and family commitments. In this complex situation, sportscotland institute of sport’s Performance Lifestyle™ team is playing a vital role in supporting Scotland’s world class athletes by making the sport/life balance easier to manage.
Led by Head of Performance Lifestyle Susie Elms, the team comprises eight Performance Lifestyle Advisers all qualified to world-class practitioner level, accredited externally, and on a par with those employed in the corporate sector.
Key to the team’s work is understanding every aspect of the athletes’ lives, identifying the factors that influence their performance and facilitating them to independence.
Colin Gallacher has been a Performance Lifestyle Adviser for 14 years and in that time has worked with Commonwealth Champion swimmer Hannah Miley, ensuring her education is not forgotten, assisting her and her family with the transitions involved in her move from promising young athlete to world class performer.
“My role has been to facilitate this for Hannah and I have worked with her father and coach, Patrick to make sure the environment is the best it can be,” said Gallacher.
“At the start I advised her on schooling, arranged for tutoring to help her when she was away competing and provided support for driving lessons so she could become more independent. More recently we have been making arrangements in preparation for London.”
In short that has involved assisting with Miley’s move to Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University for her Sports Science degree, negotiating with academic departments to enable her to study full time, and from January to September 2012 arranging a sabbatical in order that she can fully concentrate on London 2012.
As an example of the detail in a Performance Lifestyle Adviser’s work, in conjunction with RGUSport staff he has arranged for a flat at the university to be made available so she has somewhere to rest.
Recognising there is life beyond London, Gallacher has arranged for her to use the university facilities to catch up on any lectures and for her fees to be funded.
“This means that when it comes to doing her finals after London she will have had the chance to catch up and not had a year totally out of the academic cycle,” said Gallacher. “In the meantime she has access to the university to keep her ticking over which means she doesn’t lose contact with the world outside sport.”
Miley is in no doubt that this area of sportscotland institute of sport makes a difference.
“University is important because I need something to keep my brain ticking and it gives me a release from just swimming all the time,” she said.
“The RGU and Colin have pulled together opportunities to self-study enabling me to able to get the most out of my degree and education as well as my training.
“Performance Lifestyle has made a huge difference to me and if it hadn't been for Colin’s help throughout my education I think I would probably be in a very different position.”