27 April, 2022 | Posted by Colm McDonnell

Why Sports Performance is a Rewarding Career

When you look at Cesar Azpilicueta go to lift the UEFA Champions League trophy, you probably think, “What a leader he is! What an accomplishment he and his teammates have achieved on the pitch!”

When you look at Serena Williams playing at the highest level of tennis well into her late 30s and early 40s, you probably admire the longevity and total commitment she has shown to her sport for the better part of two decades.

When you look at Max Verstappen winning yet another Formula 1 Grand Prix, you probably think of what a fantastic individual achievement he has added to his CV.

While the names mentioned above and all elite athletes should be commended for their commitment to excellence and their outstanding achievements in their respective sports, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that you don’t see on your TV screen or even if you’re in the arena itself.

Physiotherapists, strength and conditioning coaches, psychologists, nutritionists. These are just some of the personnel that work in the background, all year long, so that the athletes they work with are put in the best possible position to succeed.

One area that is crucial to the success of an athlete is performance analysis. Performance analysis involves the gathering of performance-related data and putting it into context, analysing it, and assessing what needs to be improved in order to achieve optimum performance. Elite athletes require the sharpest minds to be able to tell them where they can improve their performance.

You can find out more about how to enter the world of performance analysis by attending Portobello Institute’s free webinar on May 5th, at 7 pm.

So, what makes performance analysis a rewarding career? Why not hear from those who work in the field themselves about where they get their sense of satisfaction?

Pyry Salmela is the performance coach for Formula 1 driver, Pierre Gasly. He derives immense satisfaction from working so closely with the Frenchman.


“I feel very lucky to work with Pierre. We have built a relationship.

“He is always seeking the next step. He is always seeking to challenge himself. He is also challenging all of us around him.

“Seeing Pierre win in Monza was the cherry on top of the cake,” he said.

As you can see, an athlete’s victory gets enjoyed by far more than just the athlete themselves. There are many people behind them that get satisfaction from their performance.

Performance analysis doesn’t just involve achieving maximum performance. It is a discipline that is embedded in many different roles within the sporting community. One such role is that of a scout.

In football and other sports, scouting is vitally important in seeking out the next big talent.

Danielle Prescott is an academy scout for Manchester United. One of the biggest pieces of satisfaction she gets from her role is seeing someone she scouted from a young age goes on to be successful in their adult career, even if it is not for Manchester United.

Dwight McNeil-1

“It’s always nice to see the development of someone.

“A key one for me is Dwight McNeil for Burnley. I watched him in the underage groups, and you could see there was something there. He’s someone that has gone right through.

“The people that I recognise, and watched over numerous years, you can see where they’re going,” she said.

Nick Winkelman is the Head of Athletic Development for the IRFU. He oversees many different operations that ultimately come together to try and put Irish rugby players in the best place to succeed on the pitch. While on the pitch success is an important part of the job description, his approach to job satisfaction is a little bit more fundamental.

Bundee Aki

“If you don’t get enjoyment out of what you do for the pure act of doing it, the job will likely not be sustainable.

“For me, I enjoy the process of what I do. I enjoy talking to our coaches. I enjoy problem-solving. I enjoy engaging in mentorship. I enjoy working in a space where our key objective, day in and day out, for ourselves, is to get better,” he said.

These are just some of the reasons that sports performance can be a rewarding career for you.

Read More

Follow Your Passion: From American Football to the Head of Athletic Performance & Science at the IRFU

Get in Contact

If you are interested in any of our sports courses or have any questions you can book a consultation call with our expert sports advisor Jo Shaw here, email jo.shaw@portobelloinstitute.com or call 01 892 0024. 


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