We showcase a top practitioner in the industry as we want you to get an inside scoop on what they do and how they do it. We always aim to give you access to the best information from the people who own it!!
This week we are talking to Jon Cooper, an Associate Lecturer in Sports Coaching at Southampton Solent University.
As a teenager, Jon was swept away with the sailing bug after heading out on his grandpa’s boat around the solent. Competing in Leicestershire and on the National sailing circuit, studying a BSc in sport science and interning within professional sport, led Jon on his path to becoming a Strength & Conditioning (S&C) Coach for Olympic Sailors, conducting training all over Europe with athletes from several nations.
As well as having completed a MSc in Athletic Development & Peak Performance, Jon is a ‘Senior Sailing Instructor’, ‘Strength & Conditioning Specialist’, ‘PowerBoat Instructor’ & has kicked it with the Crystal Palace Football Team! Something you wouldn't know, is that this guy also has bought, read & given out so many copies of Paulo Coelho’s book ‘The Alchemist’, he should be a stockist!
Hey Jon, how long have you been an associate lecturer in sports coaching for?
I started lecturing in Jan 2017. I got this role after completing my MSc and being on the professional sailing circuit for a few years as a coach.
How did you get started in sports coaching?
As a teenager learning to sail, I started to help out on youth and adult sailing courses with basic instructing of techniques on how to steer around a course, basic manoeuvres and how to begin racing. At that time I was taking part in national competitions in places like Plymouth, Bridlington, Carsington & Penzance so this experience directly helped.
After Uni, I felt like I had the basic knowledge of the biomechanics, physiology and the psychology of sport but I really wanted to have experience in applying high performance coaching and S&C. Luckily, I managed to gain a role as a Sports Science and S&C Intern for Crystal Palace Football Club in their 2012/13 championship season.
What was interning at CPFC like?
Interning gave me a great introduction to what professional coaching could be like in sport, around full-time athletes where every day mattered. I was helping to make decisions for athletes in their training plans based on heart-rate monitoring, osmolality testing, pre-habilitation routines and cardiovascular fitness monitoring. Working closely in the gym with footballers such as Danny Gabbidon, Aaron Wilbraham and Yannick Bolasie taught me a lot about putting the player first and working within a high performance environment.
What does a day in the life of a Strength & Conditioning Coach for professional sailors look like?
I’ve written a little bit about this for anyone interested in a career in sports coaching but essentially at the off-season base camps in Lake Garda, Valencia & Malta, we would coach the athletes on the water 5x a week, plus provide them with daily strength & conditioning sessions in the gym, or sometimes on the beach! As sailing is such an individualised sport, I set up pre-habilitation warm ups with the whole squad but develop individualised training programmes with each athlete so that their strength, endurance and cardiovascular fitness was on point for achieving the best possible result in competitions.
Want to know where's good to sail in Europe? Have a read here.
What is your wellness philosophy?
As a Coach you often hear me saying:
‘Posture’ & ‘Breathe’!!! I have found that athletes tend to focus on the outcome of a lift but they might struggle or lose technique, typically within their posture. Also, when you're pushing hard, we can all forget to breathe. Sailing is a predominantly aerobic sport so you need to be able to maintain posture, stiffness, muscle tension whilst still being able breath.
If you could only do 3 exercises, what would they be?
Ooh, that's hard to choose. Definitely a deadlift.
What’s your favourite pre-workout breakfast?
Top tips for motivation?
Athletes I’ve worked with are very self motivated and if they buy into their training program, they’ll do it! There's no need for me to be Mr Motivator, I just need to be there technically for them. I would make sure I match my attitude and energy to fit the athlete, how they are feeling and the aims of their session, so if you're training for max strength today and it looks like they could safely do another 4 reps, then yeah, go for it. But if it's a recovery session and you're there trying to beast them into more reps, you could risk injuring them.
What 3 songs are on your workout playlist?
If I wasn’t a Lecturer / Strength & Conditioning Coach / Sailing Coach, I’d be: