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Monday 13 November 2017

Putting Wigan Warriors through their paces

UCLan sports students share their experience of working with professional rugby league players in pre-season fitness tests

Super League giants Wigan Warriors are already looking ahead to the 2018 season and for the ninth year in a row, have called on the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) sports science experts to help players stay in peak condition.

As the ‘official university’ of Wigan Warriors, UCLan provides pre-season fitness tests for the first team squad using the University’s high quality equipment to test each player against a range of physiological checks.  This includes the punishing VO2 Max assessment, which pushes the athletes to exhaustion to test their aerobic capacity.  Students play an integral role in this, giving them access to elite athletes and practical experience to prepare them for the competitive sports industry.

Sports students, including strength and conditioning student Daniel Makin and Siraj Darvesh, who studies nutrition and exercise science, joined the sport, exercise, and nutritional sciences team to work with the Warriors to put the players through their paces.  The students also had the opportunity to chat to graduates John Wilkinson and Wesley Smallshaw who currently work with Warriors.

"I can really see how hungry the players are for success this season; they pushed themselves to the limit and were physically falling on the floor after each test."

Daniel said: “It really opened my eyes to how hard everyone works behind the scenes at Wigan, not just the players but also the staff. Being an aspiring strength and conditioning coach, it was good to get hands on with the tests as one day I may need to do a Vo2 Max test with athletes by myself. I can really see how hungry the players are for success this season; they pushed themselves to the limit and were physically falling on the floor after each test.

“Being from Wigan and being a Wigan Warriors fan myself, it was interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes and it was a privilege to take part in the testing and help the coaching staff and players as much as possible. I hope in my future strength and conditioning career I get the opportunity to work with top class athletes again like the Wigan Warriors.”

Siraj commented: “I think having fun and learning is the best way to experience and develop new skills, regardless if it’s at university, work or with friends and family. When I began in all honesty I was a bit nervous at first, but the lab testing team and our tutors created a safe and enjoyable learning environment.  It was my first time in a lab measuring professional athletes undertaking a VO2 Max on a treadmill, cycle ergo-meter and rowing machine. I felt this accelerated my real time thinking, problem solving and making decisions; it was a real learning-by-doing experience.

“I would highly recommend it to all my fellow students and would be happy to have the opportunity to do it all over again.”

View images from Wigan Warriors’ pre-season testing on the UCLan Flickr gallery.