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Sara Hilton

Lecturer of Football + Coaching Science


Following a successful playing career which ended because of injury, Sara began coaching in 2011. To enhance her knowledge in the world of sport and exercise, Sara began studying the BSc (Hons) Sport & Exercise Sciences course as a full time student in 2013. Sara joined the sports coaching department of Wrexham Glyndwr University in 2016.
In terms of coaching Sara has gained an enormous amount of experience in coaching football at all levels, from grassroots football to the U15’s Girl’s national team. Sara has worked as a coach in Welsh Premier League Academies and she was also the director of the North East Wales Girl’s Performance Centre and the North Wales Coast Girl’s Performance Centre, as well as a North Wales Regional coach for many years. In April 2016 Sara coached the national under 16’s girls’ team and has helped many players progress through the Welsh player pathway.
Sara has was awarded the National Performance Coach of the Year 2016.

Sara continues to work as a level 1 and a level 2 coach educator for the FAW Trust and continues to progress as an educator within the FAW coach education pathway.

Interview Questions

1. What book(s) have greatly influenced your life?

i. Bounce – Matthew Syed
ii. Leadership – Alex Ferguson
iii. The Winner Effect – Ian Robertson

2. How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favourite failure” of yours?

My injury which forced me to stop playing football really felt like a failure. Having to give up the sport I loved was heart-breaking, however, I very much doubt I would have had the successes I’ve already experienced as a coach had it not been for that injury.

3. In the last five years, what new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life?

I think within sport it’s difficult to find a balance. Over the course of the past 12 months I’ve strived to find some kind of balance between work and personal life. It’ll never be quite 50:50 because that would be unrealistic. But making sure I take time to switch off and spend time away from the pitch has really improved my professional life as well as my personal one.

4. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring young coach, what would that advice be?

Always challenge yourself. Do not stagnate and think something is ‘good enough’. There’s nothing worse than hearing someone say “it’ll do”. Have pride in your work – reputation is everything within the world of sport, especially football, and its important coaches remember that at all times.

5. What bad advice do you hear most from your area of expertise?

I’ve been very fortunate to have had some brilliant mentors, so it’s difficult for me to identify any ‘bad advice’. I think it’s important that no coach tries to be a mini me of another coach. Having a real sense of identity and understanding your own philosophy is important. Use advice and experiences from others but don’t try and be someone else. No sport wants ‘robot coaches’ who do the same thing in the same way.

6. Who, in your life, has inspired you most? (and why)

I look up to many coaches and professionals. But I class inspiration as the reason to keep doing what I’m doing so to answer that I’d probably say my family. I’m from a family with a great work ethic and they’ve always encouraged me to ‘reach for the stars’ and to work hard.

7. How would you best define a coach?

A coach is someone who can change someone’s life without even knowing they’ve done so.

8. What do you do for your own CPD?

In terms of coaching, I’m fortunate to be around like-minded people who challenge my ideas while also sharing their own. I look at videos online to find any different kind of drills or practices I could integrate into my session and also read lots of research around coaching pedagogy.