There is a lot going on during your first few weeks of university so don’t worry if you didn’t feel ready to sign up to any clubs or societies just yet – there are still plenty of opportunities to get involved this year. All student clubs run a little differently, however most welcome all abilities and may offer Performance teams that focus on competing, as well as social sessions for those just wanting to play for fun.
In this blog post we’ll be looking at some of the reasons joining a sports club can enhance your university experience!
The University of Bristol Student Roundnet Club was new on the scene in 2019. In this post Committee member, Antoine, writes about the experience of setting up a brand new Bristol SU Sports Club, and shares top tips for any students interested in doing the same thing next year with another new sport!
What is Roundnet?
Roundnet is a relatively new sport which is very popular in the US and is taking the rest of the world by storm. The sport is amazing because it can be played almost anywhere and really caters to all abilities; from your casual BBQ with friends to competing in a World Championship final. The European and UK Roundnet scenes are thriving with new and exciting clubs and tournaments, so it was definitely a great time to get into the sport. Roundnet is also well known for its incredibly friendly and inclusive community, which is at the core of our Club’s ethos.
Roundnet is a sport played by four players in teams of two around a circular net. Once the ball is served onto the net, the other pair have up to three touches to hit it back onto the net. Once the ball contacts the net, possession changes to the other team. There are no boundaries, it is a 360º game! A team wins a point once the other team is unable to return the ball legally onto the net.
“I have been really struggling with motivation during these last few weeks. The Run Series provides me with an excellent opportunity to do this for me, to collect the medals, join a community and feel a part of the university again.”
Studying: Bachelor of Science, BS Childhood studies
What is your experience with running up until now?
I never used to run; I was adamant that I couldn’t do it. I used to think it would deteriorate my muscle growth. However, in the first lockdown, I purchased my first pair of running shoes. I started with a short 5k around the downs, once or twice a week as a maximum. I was very much a gym girl; cardio wasn’t my forte at all. Since the first lockdown, I have steadily increased my distance and decreased my time. So, to cut it short, I am probably an intermediate runner.
What motivated you to sign up for the run series in 2021?
I have been really struggling with motivation during these last few weeks. The run series provides me with an excellent opportunity to do something for myself, to collect the medals, join a community and feel a part of the university again.
What is your top tip for getting out the door for your training runs?
For me, I must schedule the run a few days before. I am not a spontaneous person as such, I like to mentally prepare for a run. I like to eat properly beforehand (a carby meal a few hours before). It is about doing what suits you. I also like to run in the evenings, as a break in-between studying. The sunsets are also so beautiful so it is great for the mind as well.
What are you most looking forward to about taking part in the Run Series this year?
I am most looking forward to being a part of a community again. I love to socialise and, obviously, it has been hard this year to feel connected. The run series will allow me to feel a part of a team and strive to be the best version of myself that I can be!
What is your favourite pre-run snack/food?
I love sliced banana with peanut butter on top (crunchy peanut butter, of course). Personally, it is so important that I also eat well the day before. If I eat poorly, I can’t expect a good time but again just getting out and running is so much better than not doing anything. Do this for you.
There is still time to sign up for the first Run Series event, the virtual 5k, this weekend (20-21 March). For more information, and to sign up, visit the Run Series website.
Our second Face of the Run Series is this year’s elected Sports and Student Development Officer, Rushab Shah. Rushab has been at home in Nairobi, Kenya since Christmas, which is where he will be running the Run Series virtual 5k on the weekend of 20-21 March.
We caught up with Henry Abrahams, our resident Sports Physiotherapist at the University of Bristol SportsMedicine Clinic,who has just got back from 2 weeks working with the GB Olympic Rowing Team helping them prepare for the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.
“For the athletes and support teams who were working towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, the pandemic has really shifted the goalposts, not only with the games being delayed to 2021 but also through restrictions on travel and training. Alongside my role as a Physiotherapist based at the University of Bristol Sports Medicine Clinic, I am also lucky enough to work as a contractor with British Rowing, the National Governing Body for Rowing.
Did you know that the Sport, Exercise and Health Division at the University of Bristol has more to offer than just competitive sport? We know that Sport isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so here are 10 ways that you can get involved in active life at Bristol, without a referee or score-board in sight!
1. The Gym
The University of Bristol gym is located in the Indoor Sports Centre on Tyndall Avenue – right in the heart of campus. There is a range of cardio machines and an extensive free-weights zone, as well as a functional fitness and stretching areas located over two floors. Whatever your health and fitness goal, you’ll find everything you need.
2. Fitness classes
In the same building as the Gym, we have a number of fitness studios which are home to our gym-based fitness classes. We have over 100 in-person and virtual classes to choose from every week from ZUMBA and Aerobics, to Hatha Yoga and HIIT Pilates. As a Les Mills partner, you can join instructor-led and virtual classes from their popular catalogue including GRIT, RPM, Body Balance and Body Balance. Get unlimited access to classes with a membership, or PAYG for your favourite.
B:Active is our non-competitive, low-cost and beginner-friendly fitness and activity programme exclusive for students. Split across two timetables, B:Active Campus and B:Active Residences, you can take part in as many classes as you like each week, no commitment needed.
The University of Bristol Swimming Pool is located in the basement of the Richmond Building (Bristol SU building) and has over 100 hours available per week for casual and/or lane swimming. The Pool has six lanes, at full length is 32 meters long, and is 3.8m at it’s deepest point. If you’re looking for a low-impact, full-body conditioning activity, swimming might be the one for you!
5. Treat an injury
If you’re finding yourself sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, or you’re suffering an existing injury that’s keeping you from your favourite activity, get in touch with our Sports Medicine Clinic and speak to one of our expert physiotherapists. Book yourself and 10-15 minute (virtual) initial appointment for FREE for some advice on next steps and put yourself back on the path to peak physical condition.
6. Sign up to an event
In-person or virtual, events are a great way to join our #WeAreBristol active community and feel a part of something bigger – last year we had over 700 Bristol Uni students, staff and alumni sign up to the Great Bristol 10k. Events may be looking a little different for 2020/21 but keep an eye out for virtual event opportunities coming this year!
7. Learn or develop a skill
Book yourself a coached session to boost your skills and confidence! Our Tennis Coaches, Swim Teachers and Personal Trainers all offer 1:1 or small group coaching sessions to help support you in reaching your activity goals, whether that’s learning something completely new, or building on previous experience. It’s never too late, and you’re never too old!
8. Work with us
Student Activators form a valuable part of the S.E.H Team and help us to connect with students, run events and communicate all things active online! Student Activators are paid student staff, and can be a great CV-boosting role – as well as connecting you with other like-minded students. Keep an eye out for opportunities to get involved as a Student Activator during your time at Bristol by following @bristolunibactive and @bristolunisport on social media.
As well as paid opportunities, you can learn new skills and enhance your CV by taking part in our Sport Leadership and Volunteer programme, Game Changers. The programme runs continuously throughout the year to fit flexibly around student studies, and provides students with online and in-person training and qualifications to enable them to volunteer in a range of areas, including; coaching, officiating and community outreach.
10. Have your say
Join a committee, attend Bristol SU meetings or join student networks and groups that can have an impact on shaping the student experience around Sport and Physical Activity! Could you nominate yourself for a position on the University of Bristol Sports Network? If you’d like to see something done differently, you need to get involved and have your say – check our the Bristol SU website for opportunities and who to contact!
As a University of Bristol Sports Club, our Clubs can still choose to also work with external partners and governing bodies, to improve skills, enter competitions and gain notoriety in their sport for particular achievements or standards. For the University of Bristol Archery Club, this is Archery GB; the national governing body for archery in Great Britain. Archery GB’s Ontarget programme launched in 2010 and aims to equip grassroots level archery with the structure, vision and support to help the sport and its participants flourish and grow.
Following the announcement that UoB Archery had been recognised by Archery GB as an Ontarget Performance Specialist Club, we asked the Club to tell us a little bit about their journey to getting here.
The Archery GB ontarget scheme is designed to create a support network for archery clubs across the UK to develop and grow. Within this, clubs can achieve three specialisms: Community, Young People, and Performance. We [University of Bristol Archery Club] joined the scheme earlier this year, and have now been recognised as a Performance specialist Club!
To achieve this specialism, a club must work with its athletes, coaches, judges, and volunteers to promote an atmosphere in which sporting excellence is encouraged and promoted.
The club is in a great place to …continue bringing the sport of archery to the students of Bristol University.
Our new 2020/21 Club Captain, Will Black says that the recognition from Archery GB is “a testament to the great work of the past committees that we have been able to achieve. The club is in a great place to stay strong through the current crisis and continue bringing the sport of archery to the students of Bristol University. I am incredibly proud to be part of this club and hope to continue the success story this year.”
In university archery, archers that have shot (been in the sport) for less than one year have their own category. When archers move from being a ‘novice’ to ‘experienced’, they suddenly find themselves up against archers that have much more training under their belts – some upwards of 10 years! This can be incredibly demotivating for relatively new archers, especially those who excelled in their novice season.
To tackle this our club decided to create a new badge system during the 2018/19 academic year, for archers to track their progress through the standard indoor rounds. The badges take athletes from the beginner’s courses (white badge) to the very top of competitive archery (purple badge). The top-tier purple badge has only been achieved by one member so far! This new system has proved popular over the last year especially, with many archers in the club using it in their goal setting.
In 2019/20, we reformed the beginner’s course so that it was much more structured and used the time more effectively. A record number of 90 archers completed a course with the club in this year, and we are expecting many of these archers to continue with us in the 2020/21 season. Alongside the courses, our club ran a short ‘Introduction to Coaching’ course, during pre-season. Our volunteer coaches gained much more confidence through this course and it gave our Club’s coaching a much more cohesive approach.
The club has also increased emphasis on the importance of strength and conditioning over the last few years, with record numbers of archers attending Monday morning Motiv8 sessions during the 2019/20 academic year. Strength and conditioning has also been prevalent in keeping the club active over lockdown, with committee members running our own Motiv8 via zoom!
The 2019/20 season also saw the first off-range training sessions run by the club. We hosted a goal setting workshop in November and had another planned for April, which sadly had to be cancelled. These sessions are key to individual development as they boost motivation and encourage archers to maintain drive.
For 2020/21 we are introducing a new tiered membership structure so that our athletes can maximise their experience with the club. We also plan to continue to run workshops both on and off the range, in addition to weekly bow drills sessions to promote good technique and strength for archery.
About the announcement, University of Bristol Sport Performance Manager, Matt Paine says “The Archery club at the University of Bristol has grown from strength to strength in the last 5 years. This has been made possible by the dedication and strong leadership provided by the club captains and committees. The creation of an inclusive and open club for all is not easy within a University, and providing opportunities for both new and Performance archers is a tricky balance alongside the degree pressures. The Archery GB Ontarget recognition for the club is a reward for all of this and we look forward to supporting the club as it continues to strive for even more success in the coming years”
Like all student sports at the moment, Women’s Cricket have taken their Club online. However with their season even yet to start, current circumstances added uncertainty if they’ll see any match-time this year. Should they continue training as normal? Undeterred by the distance between them, UBWCC took on the challenge of hosting a full-on virtual pre-season for their members – with huge success!
We asked Anna Biggs, UBWCC Captain, to write about the experience, and give her top tips for hosting socially-distance pre-season training, for any #WeAreBristol clubs that may find themselves in a similar situation come the Autumn term!
Due to the nature of the cricketing season, our training and matches are skewed towards the end of the academic year. Under normal circumstances we hold a preseason during the Easter break, in preparation for the onset of matches in the Summer term.
However, due to the pandemic our original plans for preseason were cancelled, along with our whole summer season. Obviously, we were devastated by this news and truly saddened that we were unable to complete the season in the way we imagined.
As a club, and like the rest of the country, we decided to put a positive spin on a rubbish situation and run a Virtual Preseason for the same dates we would have been our regular pre-season – Wednesday 15th April until Friday 17th April.
Throughout each day, we announced three challenges on the Facebook event and on our Instagram (follow us @UOBWCC):
An artistic challenge (announced at 10am)
A cricketing challenge (announced at 12pm)
A S&C (strength and conditioning) challenge (announced at 2pm)
Everyone who joined in gained one point for completing each challenge and some challenges were ranked, with the top-three awarded extra points.
At the end of each day, we would post the leader board, and on Friday night we announced the overall ranking and winner of pre-season as a whole!
What went well?
Releasing events at set points throughout the day gave structure to the pre-season – like a normal timetable of activities.
Set times also reduced the chances of members feeling overwhelmed by all of the challenges at the start of the day and enabled a continual trickle in of content over a few hours.
Members really enjoyed the ‘arty challenges’ – although we wouldn’t really be doing this in a normal pre-season, it was a really effective way to engage members and create an inclusive and friendly feel to the event.
The leader board created a competitive edge and was affective at engaging members in all the different challenge types.
Having a social in the middle of few days of virtual pre-season brought back the social side to pre-season that we were all missing.
Advice for planning a virtual pre-season:
Give clear outlines, timelines and structures to the virtual pre-season. This will reduce confusion and increase involvement.
Advertise pre-season well in advance to increase engagement – such as via social media pages, email, or any direct contact like messages.
What to write a Club Takeover blog for us? Email us your ideas!
As my self-imposed exile manifested into a government-enforced necessity, I felt confident that I’d have enough things to tackle and enough support around me that “I would be fine”.
Let me not delude you into thinking I wasn’t feeling overwhelmed by uncertainty and stress – I was. Psychologists say that isolation has profound effects on the body and mind – anxiety, paranoia, depression etc. But I promised myself I must keep a strong sense of perspective throughout these changes.
An essential constant we all have, which I wish to emphasise is community.
While the pandemic has physically isolated us from each other, our ingenuity and resilience ensure that we can still forge a sense of community with each other. No matter where I am geographically, or the limitations I have, I am still a member of my communities; my family, my friends, my teams, my university, and my workplace, to name a few.
While travelling back to Wales to be with my family – for an indefinite period of social-distancing – I began planning.
I set my agenda for each day, and week. I found this simple process of tracking my targets for the day an easy resource to keep me sane. They say Newton incepted his theory of gravity, Shakespeare wrote his best plays, and Hugo finalised Les Misérables in a time of quarantine.I knew I wasn’t going to emerge from lockdown with any ground-breaking new theories, but I pledged that this will be a time for reflection and revision (something I am not very good at).
As a hockey player for Wales and the University I felt betrayed that my season had been cut short and cheated out of the international Hockey scheduled for the summer.
But as I reflected, I reminded myself of my good health and the physical condition I was in. I reminded myself of the goals I had set and how these were transferable and adaptable to the current climate. I focused on my original goal for the season and created a “plan for quarantine” – to get fitter and keep getting stronger.
I miss the pitch; I miss the atmosphere and dynamic and I miss the team environment. But I am lucky that this is something I am coming back to and I reminded myself that this is only temporary.
In the interim, everyone’s desire to keep the momentum of our seasons going has meant that both coaches and athletes in the squad are using their imaginations to set wild and wonderful targets and challenges!
We all sympathise with each other’s seasons coming to a halt and these humorous, yet valuable, engagements have allowed us to keep some consistency within the squad. As athletes, we do not train because people are watching and tracking our success. The motivations for me are internal, and I train to achieve my own goals. It is at times like this – when my training is behind closed doors in my family home in Newport – that I can focus on my own personalised training programme.
My educational endeavours have now shifted online.
As a final year student, I am in a huge phase of finalising my degree and moving onto my law conversion in September. This is obviously extremely stressful, but I am confident that the University will install measures to prevent anything out of my control causing detriment to my hard work. Circumstances aside, my dissertation is not going to write itself and it gives me all the more motivation to steal my place on my MA!
It is a peculiar time not to be receiving emails about lost property items or upcoming fixtures of the week from the Staff Team. The support of S.E.H is something I will welcome with open arms as this all settles down. Yet, there is no feeling of disconnection – technology connects us! In all of this I recognise the power and feeling community brings, no matter the size and no matter the affiliation. Be it virtual gym sessions (or online pub trips) it’s all a matter of making the time to stay in contact and ‘normalise’ the situation in this unprecedented time.
As I think about my future, I break it down into short-term and long-term goals and expectations.
In all of this, my strive to achieve is internal, but also driven by external factors and fuelled by my engagement with my communities. Academically, as I look to go onto my masters come September, the University and the Squad act as a major support network in securing this. The Performance Squad is not just a collection of achieving athletes, but a foundation and team where, as individuals and as a group, we can grow and develop to become the best student athletes. This is both in our sporting successes, academic performance, mental growth and as an ambassador for all that we represent – the University, the Squad, our sporting teams and ourselves.
Juggling both academics and training priorities at a time of uncertainty is of course difficult to maintain. With consistent distraction and anxiety, it is easy to take your foot (or stick, in my case) off the ball. Within the Squad, we have a phenomenal sense of accountability for each other – this is complimented with compassion and determination, which ensures we always have someone to confide in. It is the bizarre circumstance we are currently in, where the Squad can be seen at its best with an overriding togetherness and amity.
“When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal, you do not change your decision to get there”
During a difficult time in my sporting career this has reminded me to broaden my perspective and step into reality. Every athlete has difficulties, every student has things to manage, every colleague is balancing demands and priorities. But everyone in my communities have things they desire to achieve. When external controls change your ideal path, it is essential to re-calibrate and find a new one.
My goal to go to the Commonwealth Games will never change, but my path to get there through these current circumstances, has changed. All in all, it is about acting on what I can control; communicating with my team and managers, training to the best of my ability with the resources I have, and always learning and growing wherever possible. Sport is all about physical attributes, but equally about your mental ability to lead, cope with stress and manage. It is in this time we can all grow as individuals and as athletes with the people around us.
As the Easter break comes to an end it’s a time to keep up the momentum of my goals, to keep encouraging my squad and peers, and to keep learning, developing and reflecting (and raiding my bookshelf)!
As of yet, I still have an U23’s invitational this Summer for Wales Hockey, I have a team to go back to, and I am where I need to be in these circumstances. I still have a degree to complete and masters to achieve, and a University where I will thrive and develop academically and professionally as a student and athlete.
COVID-19 can be seen everywhere in the news today, in fact it’s almost impossible to open up social media without seeing an article about it. However, at UBWRFC (Women’s Rugby), we didn’t let the fact our members are all hundreds of miles apart get in the way of everyone’s highlight of the year – the AGM.
The aim of our AGM was to make the best out of a bad situation and to ensure newly elected committee don’t miss out on the experience of this important event in our club calendar.
I hope to share with you some tips to ensure every club is able to host a successful, fair but most importantly inclusive, virtual, AGM for their whole club.
65+ members voting
70+ people watching along
11 newly elected committee members
Accessible to both members and coaches
Choose an appropriate media platform!
As silly as it sounds, the choice of platform you decide to host your AGM on can really detract or enhance everyone’s experience. An application such as house party is in accessible to a lot of members and quite frankly rather messy-especially for a group of rugby girls. Our solution was to use Facebook live stream as we were able to broadcast the event to everyone without having to make a new group, ensuring everyone was included…coaches too!
Keep it as true to a real AGM as possible
Admittedly this years’ AGM aren’t exactly going to be the same as normal, however by making it as realistic as possible makes the night seem as if it is no different. In our AGM we included speech videos to watch together and live facetime calls to record the newly elected committees’ reaction of the best moment of their life. Additional to this, we had a committee stick man drawing in the background, so that as people were elected their paper faces were moved up, gradually forming the committee as the meeting went along-this even made a new committee picture possible. Play about with this, plus it makes the night more memorable.
Keep everyone involved
As well as live facetimes on the night, club members were also able to comment along and express their thoughts and feelings throughout the night making sure everyone was included.
Even on a regular AGM night, there is bound to be an unexpected curve ball that needs to be dealt with. In our case, a vacant committee position was opened up on the night and people put themselves forward for the position. Ensure you have the ability to deal with situations like this, i.e. be able to make a voting medium quickly to cater for these changes.
Let’s just say these alternative, virtual AGM events will be remembered by club members for years to come but remembered as an event that continued to unify the club even during the craziest time of our lives!