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Supporting the next generation of practitioners through the Collaborate Sports Mentorship Programme

Progressing the field of sports performance is an integral part of the Hytro mission so when the opportunity arose to partner on the Collaborate Sport Mentor programme Dr Warren and the team were immediately interested.

Dan Howells, Director of Collaborate Sports, and Lead Mentor

Collaborate Sports was founded by Dan Howells, a Physical and Performance Coach and Mentor with over 15 years of experience within elite sports. Dan’s mission when creating the mentoring programme was to provide aspiring practitioners with education through collaboration, enabling them to develop personally and professionally to achieve their career potential.


The Collaborate Sports mentees are offered a wealth of peer-to-peer learning whilst being mentored by an industry expert. The mentorship programmes cover a range of focuses for practitioners, from S&C Principles, Soft Skills, Data Skills, and Rehabilitation. Each programme aims to focus on simplifying theory by establishing key principles for application in the mentee’s world.


Dr Warren Bradley, Founder and Head of Elite Performance at Hytro commented: “Dan is an experienced and respected practitioner who has worked with an array of athletes at the very highest level. When we learned of the mentorship programme we knew it would offer the next generation of practitioners the highest quality of professional development.

At Hytro we highly value the sharing of best practices so are thrilled to be able to work with Collaborate Sports and our partners to offer learning opportunities that will not only enhance the careers of these individuals but ultimately progress the performance industry as a whole.”


Thanks to Hytro’s extensive network of clubs, coaches, and athletes, there were several organisations interested in supporting the mentees due to their shared passion for developing the future of the industry. One of which was St Helen’s Rugby Club which welcomed Martin Hamer to spend a full day with Matt Daniels, Head of Strength and Conditioning, to gain an invaluable inside look into the workings of this renowned club.


Martin Hamer, Head of Performance at Blackburn Rovers Women Football Club, shared his key learnings and takeaways from the day: “I was hosted by Matt Daniels and introduced to the performance and medical staff, and players. It was match day + 3, so I observed gym work, breathing and mobility, and some volleyball team-building play. We went to the stadium to get an insight into the field session and look at the analysis performed. It was good to see how they work and compare to what we do at Blackburn in terms of the collaboration we both achieve between the medical and performance staff. I was impressed with how organised the field session was, they showcased excellent communication. I also witnessed the use of Hytro BFR Performance Shorts for Passive Recovery and Rehabilitation – they were big advocates of the use of BFR due to being able to get adaptations even when the loading on the players is very low.”


St Helen's Rugby Club using Hytro BFR for Passive Recovery in training hall


Dr Warren Bradley, Founder and Head of Elite Performance at Hytro detailed: “Matt Daniels is an excellent coach with many years of experience. When Matt, and the club, agreed to host a mentee we were overjoyed as knew it would provide them with a priceless learning opportunity to see how a top-level Rugby League Club organises their training, recovery, and rehabilitation. A huge thanks from Hytro to Matt and St Helen’s, we look forward to collaborating on future mentorship opportunities.”


Dan Howells, Director of Collaborate Sports, and Lead Mentor added: “I am immensely grateful for the support from HYTRO and all other partnering companies. The support they have provided for emerging coaches has had such a positive impact on their development. The industry is competitive, and often practitioners struggle to gain insight into high-performance environments to learn from, so the doors opened for them by Hytro have been fantastic. For example, to be able to facilitate a coach to spend a day in an elite team environment like St Helen’s is an experience that will shape the future direction of that coach’s practice in so many positive ways and will be an experience they won’t forget that’s for sure.”


The feedback from the participants to date has been resoundingly positive, with many commenting on the quality of the opportunities afforded to them by Hytro. The mentees have begun the journey at varying points, so the bespoke nature of the programme has ensured they are all progressing and getting valuable insight regardless of their previous experience.


During this latest season of development, Dan Howells shared with us some of the insight and learnings directly from mentees in the program.


Rachel Thomson, a Physical Performance Coach with expertise in women’s football, joined the Strength and Conditioning mentorship programme to challenge herself and gain diverse perspectives from her fellow colleagues within the industry. Rachel shared: “I am truly grateful to the sponsoring companies for this opportunity. I’ve enjoyed learning how to apply theoretical knowledge more thoroughly and found the program to be insightful and purpose-driven.”


Thomas McAuliffe, a student intern at Kilmarnock FC Youth Academy, is part of the Soft Skills mentorship programme. Being unable to fund personal development alongside his university fees, he felt concerned that his theoretical knowledge learned at university did not apply in real-world scenarios, leaving him doubting himself. Thomas shared: “This mentorship opportunity was the solution I needed, offering a support network to consolidate my learning and enhance my practice. Thank you to the sponsors for supporting my professional development.”


Bryan Gardener, a Physical Therapist from the United States, also joined the Soft Skills mentorship program with a specific aim. He sought mentorship to improve his soft skills, essential for entering the workforce and effective communication with athletes and fellow professionals. Bryan explained: “These two months have been filled with valuable insights. I have been connected with unique individuals who have been so supportive of my growth. This mentorship has given me tools to boost my confidence.”


Athlete wearing Hytro BFR Performance Shorts and Hytro BFR Training Tee whilst stretching


The whole Hytro team has been proud to support Dan and his mentees, and excited to be able to play a small part in their professional development.  Hytro Founder, Dr Warren Bradley was delighted that the mentees have found the program so valuable, commenting that “the opportunities provided to our partners actually benefit all of us in the end as we all continue to learn together. The feedback shared is a testament to the excellent design of the programme, as well as the commitment and enthusiasm of all involved. I very much look forward to supporting more aspiring practitioners to build their dream careers in the future!”


To learn more about what Collaborate Sports offer as part of their Group Mentorship Programme, visit them here. If you are a Hytro partner and would be interested in engaging in the programme, please contact the team by emailing elite@hytro.com.

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