05 July, 2022 | Posted by Colm McDonnell

#FollowYourPassion – Coach John Noonan On Going From Gyms to the Silverstone Grand Prix

While studying sports science in the UK, John Noonan admits that he never had the Silverstone Grand Prix or motorsport in his plans when envisioning his career as a coach. In fact, he started off working in gyms with the clear goal of helping people to become healthier and fitter.

He loved football growing up and, like many, dreamed of a career as a professional footballer.

“I thought football was an option but in actual fact, I had two left feet. I didn’t really take into any further than Sunday League football.

“I realised I was a better coach than an athlete and here we are,” he said.

John followed his passion for sports, studied and worked hard in the field and became a coach just as he intended. His first experience of coaching was in a sport he loved, football.

His first coaching role came in what some might consider a bit of a niche starting spot. He briefly served as a sports scientist and strength and conditioning coach for the Ghanaian women’s national football team. He was with the Black Queens as part of their training camp for the 2007 Women’s World Cup, one of two African nations at the tournament.


The Black Queens at the 2007 Women's World Cup. Credit: Getty

Shortly thereafter, John joined Scunthorpe United as part of an internship programme that saw him work with the team during the 2007-08 season, their second since their return to the Championship, the second tier of English football. He implemented a football-specific strength and conditioning model to enhance the performance of the first team to deal with the demands of playing Championship-level football.

During his time at Scunthorpe, John was studying for a master’s in physiology. He was passionately following his interests, gaining a higher level of education in his field to feed his hunger for knowledge and open more doors.

However, an opportunity arose that he could not turn down which involved moving to a new city, long before blended learning allowed people to study from anywhere in the world.

“After a year, I dropped the programme because I ended up moving to London and working for Chelsea. I couldn’t find the time to continue the work at university, so I had to shelf it,” he said.

His role at Chelsea was with their academy set-up, helping their young players develop physically, and preparing them for a jump into senior football. It was his first taste of working with younger athletes and would not be his last.

John then moved on from football and pivoted into the world of rugby. He would spend five years across two different clubs, namely Yorkshire Carnegie (now known as Leeds Tykes) and Huddersfield Giants. He served as Head of Strength and Conditioning for both clubs in his respective tenures, a testament to the experience he had collected to that point in his career.

During his time working as a rugby coach, a more niche opportunity also presented itself for John. He was brought on board with GB Snowsport to work closely with their ski and snowboard athletes.

During this time, John returned to education, earning a Master of Philosophy in Biomechanics.

“As part of a research project with the British freestyle snowboard programme, I started an MPhil there. That was on the taxonomy of demands for ski and snowboard athletes. It was quite an exciting project,” he said.


Zoe Gillings-Brier, GB Snowboarder. Credit: Getty

The work he did with GB Snowsport acted as a bridge between his work in rugby and his return to the world of football. While still working in snowboarding, John also found work with Premier League outfit, Everton FC.

He spent three years with the Merseyside club as Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for their academy side, working with players like Anthony Gordon, who has now made himself a key player for their first-team side.

 Anthony Gordon

Anthony Gordon celebrating his goal against Manchester United at Goodison Park. Credit: Talksport.

John was with Everton from 2016 to 2019 and it was during this time that a key development in his career took place, joining Hintsa, a prestigious world-leading organisation in the provision of high-quality performance coaching.

“I joined Hintsa in 2018.

“Hintsa are a really forward-thinking and ambitious organisation with phenomenal people, who all share the common goal of helping people reach their potential, whether that be in a corporate setting or a sports setting.

“Most notably, we are known for our history and depth of experience within motorsport, providing coaches to deliver services to motorsport athletes.

"We work across other sports as well and there are more in the pipeline. But particularly in the social media space, we are most known for performance coaching in motorsport. I work in the elite sports sector and a little bit in the corporate sector,” he said.

John currently works with Danish driver Frederik Vesti, who drives for ART, in Formula 2. He was able to provide Portobello Institute with an insight into just what goes into the preparation for a race weekend. You can read more about his 'Day in the Life' here.

John's early passion for sport, his commitment to his studies and taking every opportunity that came his way with a deep love for his work have led him to this unique and brilliant career in sports. 

Many people find that they are passionate about sports but don't know what careers are out there or don't know how to fulfil their potential.

The global sports market is expected to grow from $354.96 billion in 2021 to $501.43 billion in 2022, meaning there is a career for your passion, no matter how niche or general it may be. 

If you are interested in following your passion to fulfil your potential in sport just like John, get in touch with Porotbello Institute's sports department today. We can support you to choose the course for the career you want. 

Visit our department page here. Get in touch with our expert admissions advisor, Jo Shaw by calling 01 892 0024, emailing jo.shaw@portobelloinstitute.com or booking a one-to-one consultation call here

Read more: #FollowYourPassion – Michael Italiano's Journey to Formula 1 Coaching

Read more: #Follow Your Passion – How David Howarth’s Obsession with Rugby Turned into an NBA Coaching Career

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