Welcome to our Women in Sport series, a platform to profile and provide well-deserved exposure for influential women working in the sports science and performance space.
What better way to start than with a sports scientist from a team that’s giving us plenty of excitement in this incredible summer of sport. Introducing the ECB’s Hannah Jowitt.
Currently an international pathways analyst at the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Hannah is predominantly acting as a touring analyst with the England U19s men’s cricket team. Hannah has a strong background in sports science, having played a big part in working with Catapult at the ECB as a sports scientist and performance analyst, and previously working as a sports science and strength and conditioning intern at Notts County FC.
Growing up, Hannah played cricket and, more unusually, was a synchronised swimmer until she was 18. With sport having always been a huge part of her life, there was no question about entering the industry for a career. She confesses that she was “never going to be a pro sportswoman”, which, combined with her aptitude for maths and science, meant that the sports performance route was the way to go.
Perseverance is key to Hannah’s success in landing an enviable role within the UK sports industry. “It was incredibly hard to get into a paid role within sport, something I think a lot of people struggle with. I thought about giving up several times, but was stubborn and carried on.” When asked about any barriers she faced in what is traditionally a predominantly male industry, the answer was positive. “Of course there are a few gender stereotypes that you had to break down, particularly early on in my career and in my intern roles, but I’ve been very lucky to have great mentors.”
A career highlight for Hannah is the work that she did at the ECB alongside Catapult: the development of the fast bowling algorithm that won Sport Industry’s Cutting Edge Tech Award in 2017.
This landmark project was designed to automatically recognise deliveries by fast bowlers using the inertial sensors within Catapult’s wearable technology. The algorithm quantifies the loads bowlers are placing on their bodies, with this information used to establish training and match demands and ensure that bowlers are fully prepared for the rigours of competition. The data is also used to benchmark individual players, helping users to improve rehabilitation processes and only bring athletes back to match intensities when they’ve reached their pre-injury numbers.
“To be involved in a project like that was fantastic for my personal development,” Hannah said. “But professionally, the fact that it is used across the board now, and across all the teams, is a game changer. It means we’re able to see the real impact it is having.”
When asked what she would hope to be remembered for in her professional career, Hannah says that without a doubt it would be “making an impact with the players”. Be it short term or long term, she strives to do something that will help players with their careers.
Hannah explains that the current team she is working with, the U19 men’s team, has had the biggest impact on her. “That age group is very rewarding to work with. They’re so responsive to coaches and yourself as a practitioner. We’ve got a great bunch of coaching staff – and we’ve got the balance just right between competition and development – wanting to win competitively, but also developing players as individuals and preparing them for their future.”
It’s Hannah’s impression that tech will play a big part of player development over the next ten years; it’s already growing, expanding, and making an impact on younger players that will rise up through the ranks. Hannah hopes that as an industry we’ll see an increase in the number of women working within sport. “In cricket in particular, we’re unfortunately not seeing much of an increase in women in sports tech roles, but I’m hopeful that the female sports analyst interns of today will become the heads of performance of tomorrow. We just need to make sure we nurture that talent.”