A host of professional coaches swapped their tracksuit for a cap and gown as they graduated from UCLan. Elite hockey, table tennis and rugby league coaches were among 1,500 students who took to the stage to receive their academic awards in Preston's Guild Hall.
The 13 specialists have spent the past two years combining their full-time careers with studying for the United Kingdom Coaching Certificate (UKCC) Level 4 Postgraduate Diploma in Elite Coaching Practice.
The England Hockey coaches were Andy Bradshaw, Carolyn Rolleston, Clare Hayes, Jody Paul, Marc Bourhill and Jon Bleby. The English Table Tennis Association coaches were Craig Bryant, Stephen Gertsen, Paul Whiting and Natalie Green, while the Rugby Football League coaches were Christopher Chapman, Dan Clements and Martin Cunningham.
Andy Bradshaw, Head Coach for the England Hockey Girls' Under 18's squad, commented: "I've been able to access research at the University that proved to be particularly useful when developing our talent identification processes. Working with like-minded professionals from other sports has also been beneficial."
Highlights of the intensive course included analyzing techniques and discovering innovative training methods.
The Rugby League National Player Development Manager Chris Chapman said: "This course was the natural progression for my career and it's been both challenging and rewarding. Sharing knowledge across a range of sport disciplines has allowed me to think differently about coaching and what new techniques we can apply."
Paul Whiting, South West Regional Coach for the England Table Tennis Association, added: "I have really challenged myself to see the job from a different perspective by sharing ideas of best practice with coaches from other sports, particularly in the area of performance analysis."
Bryan Jones, UCLan Principal Lecturer in Coaching and Performance, said: "The course is making a big difference to coaching methods throughout various sports. We've got more sports looking at sending their coaches as they've seen and heard great things. That can only be of benefit to the individuals and their national teams."