Skip navigation


Greg Irvin

Career Path: Mental Skills Coach, Sunderland Football Club
Location: Sunderland, UK

I had always had an interest in psychology having completed an undergraduate degree in it, and had developed an interest in using psychology to improve performance whilst playing professional rugby. When it came to transitioning out of sport due to injury, it seemed a natural step to develop this interest in sport psychology. The course at Northumbria seemed the perfect opportunity by which to do this.

What are you doing now?

I now work full time as the Mental Skills Coach at Sunderland Football Academy, delivering sport psychology support to all players and coaches at the Academy, from the under 21 age group down to the under 9s.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

The content and structure of the course were very interesting, and the reputations of both the course and the staff delivering it were excellent. In addition, I was very impressed with the sporting and academic facilities on offer when I visited the University prior to applying for the course.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

All course content was delivered over two days in the week, which left plenty of time to conduct independent study to develop knowledge in areas of particular interest. The course was delivered through a good mix of lectures, seminars and workshops, and a range of assessed work was used, including essays, applied case studies and conducting actual work with real athletes.

What impressed you most about our academic staff?

It goes without saying that the academic staff were all very knowledgeable, however I was very impressed by the efforts they made to ensure the content they delivered was interesting and engaging. This meant that I always felt very involved in the learning process, and I think this was one of the most significant aspects of added value related to my experiences on the course.

How connected was your course with industry?

The course was very connected with the sport psychology industry, since it sought to provide us with both the science and theory that we needed to know, but also the personal skills to engage in the art of applying what we knew to work successfully with groups and individual athletes.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals/ give your career an edge?

The chance to work at Sunderland came about through links between Northumbria and the club, and so I wouldn't be where I am now without having studied at Northumbria.  However, I firmly believe that even without the opportunity to go to Sunderland, studying at Northumbria would have given me the knowledge and experiences to succeed whatever avenue my career would have progressed down.

What was the best thing about your course?

The content of the course was exactly what we needed to know, however it was delivered with an additional focus on how to apply the knowledge to best work with athletes in a practical sense. As such, we left the course ready to being a career in a real world sport setting.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

I use all the theoretical knowledge I gained on the course, especially when delivering the educational sessions I run at SAFC. However, more importantly, I use the more personal skills the course gave us every day when working with individual athletes on performance enhancement.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

The course, the staff, my course mates and the opportunity it gave me to got straight into working in professional football.

What advice would you give somebody who is thinking of studying at Northumbria?

Do it! You will gain a range of experiences and knowledge that will well prepare you for success in your chosen field. You will also get the opportunity to use excellent facilities for both work and play whilst you are studying.

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

Intense, interesting and enjoyable.

Latest News and Features

Crime scene
Sustainable condenser tumble dryers
View of the countryside from Richmond, London. People on green grass field near lake during daytime
The Crypt at Newcastle Cathedral
Event aims to connect academic knowledge and policy makers
More news
More events

Upcoming events

Grow Your Own – How To Attract, Develop and Retain a Talented Team.
The Building Safety Act and its Implications

Back to top