February 13, 2019, by Charlotte Gauja

BUCS Nationals | Team Behind the Team

This weekend, 15 16 & 17 February the University of Nottingham will be taking over 140 athletes to Sheffield to compete for the #GreenandGold at BUCS Nationals. The athletes will be competing in swimming, athletics, judo, fencing, karate, climbing and badminton. We caught up with our Sports Injury Clinic physiotherapist, Rory, who will be supporting the athletes to reach their personal best over the weekend.

What is it like to work at BUCS Nationals as medical staff?

“In my experience attending BUCS nationals for the past 2 years, providing medical support at BUCS Nationals events has been a good blend of challenging but very enjoyable and rewarding. I work within the Sports Injury Clinic which means there is typically structure and order to your schedule whereas events such as BUCS Nationals can closer resemble controlled chaos given the unpredictability of the weekend.

A typical day involves being the first person in and the last person out as you need to be in to set up before the first event and close up after the last event when all the athletes are done for the day.

The atmosphere from a medical point of view is always good as there is a section where medical support for all universities will set up their treatment beds so being able to meet other medical professionals in a similar situation and see how others manage their athletes is always beneficial from both a social and learning perspective. Certain parts of the day can be quiet which gives you a chance to explore the facility and watch some of the events if you’re lucky but this is usually short lived as soon there is a long line of athletes looking for post event treatment or who may have picked up injuries during their events!”

What support do the athletes require over the weekend?

“The usual suspects typically involve pre event taping or strapping, pre event soft tissue treatment such as massage and then post event treatments to aid with quick recovery before their next event which could be later that day or the following day. This can get more or less intense as they weekend goes on depending on how many are still competing in the final events on Sunday, however even if there is less athletes, they tend to need more treatment and support as they have competed over a number of days.

A significant part of the support we provide revolves around educating athletes on how they can self-manage e.g. foam rolling or stretching techniques, warm ups ideas, managing rest between events, hydration, nutrition etc. However to most athletes this presumably sounds more like a nagging mother: “What have you eaten?” “Have you had enough water?” “Make sure you try get a nap before your next event!” “Don’t go eating junk food!” It’s important to make sure athletes are well supported and doing the right things to positively impact their performance, in a pressure cooker environment like BUCS nationals it’s equally important to remind them to enjoy the event atmosphere whilst keeping an eye on often over looked things like stress levels and anxiety.

As medical staff, recognising the importance of overall wellbeing and not just physical condition is essential so having the medical set up as a bit of a safe haven from the competitiveness where athletes can relax and wind down post event is something I try to install.”

What have you been up to the week leading up to Nationals?

“The week leading up to the event is just as important as the event itself. This is where the ground work and preparation for the event is done and where you can get a step ahead of any potential injuries going into the event. The objective is to try to be proactive with how athletes manage their injuries and not simply react to injuries on the day as by then it’s too late in most cases.

The week will be made up with assessing athletes who may have “niggles” going into the event and planning ahead of how we can manage during the event. This allows us to ideally know what athletes to keep tabs on and pre plan their treatment and weekend schedules. As helpful as this is for us organize and prioritize our time and resources, it’s equally helpful for the athlete as it provides structure and reassurance in what is often already a stressful and anxious time for them.

Alongside this, making sure we have the right equipment and staff in place for each event is a huge part of our week. Managing a number of events in 3 different venues presents a number of challenges so planning is essential on our part. We are lucky to have great support from students on the undergraduate sports rehabilitation and physiotherapy courses. They are often with us in the weeks leading up on placement and then play a vital role during the events itself helping us as staff but more importantly the athletes themselves. Without their help we couldn’t be able to support every athlete the way we can!”

What do you enjoy most about working at BUCS Nationals?

“What I look forward to most in these events is seeing the results of a year’s hard work not just from the athletes but also the long list of support staff be it the medical team, strength and conditioning team, the coaches, the club development team.

Being able to see that as a sports division, we played an important part in allowing the athletes to fulfill their potential in their given sport is what is most rewarding and at the end of the day is why we all work within the University sports department.

As a medical team, we would be like to be the least busy people at the event but this unfortunately rarely the case, injury plays a big part in competitive sport. This is even more relative for athletes who compete over all 3 days whether that be heats to finals or over multiple disciplines.

Knowing we play an important role to athletes achieving peak performance at the end of the sporting year has an even greater rewards when an athlete who may have had to manage injuries in the lead up or during the event achieve their sporting goals whether that means making a final, beating a personal best or getting a medal.”

You can follow the University of Nottingham’s progress in the BUCS Nationals on our TwitterFacebook, Instagram and also here. There will also be regular updates on the BUCS official website and social media channels.


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