Rachel Tytler is a member of both the JudoScotland and British Judo national squads. After graduating with a BSc in Sports and Exercise Science, she is now a full-time athlete with JudoScotland and also acts as the organisation’s athlete representative.
Rachel also spends a great deal of time coaching which, along with her representative role, has helped her to develop her leadership skills.
We caught up with the 22-year-old judo player to find out more about her experiences, the skills she has gained through sports leadership and how she thinks young people can make a difference to sport in their communities.
How did you get first get involved in judo?
I got involved in judo when my swimming lessons came to an end. My friend’s dad, who was our childminder, thought judo would be a good way of keeping the kids he looked after busy, so we all gave it a go.
How did you get into coaching?
I started coaching after I did a competition timekeepers course. I quickly realised that I enjoyed being around the kids who were competing, and wanted to give something back to my club for putting so much time and effort into my own judo practice.
What do you enjoy most about your roles as a young leader?
When I’m coaching, I enjoy seeing kids having fun and learning. It’s great seeing them making friends and getting excited when they start to see their hard work paying off, whether that’s a skill or a move they’ve been training hard at.
What has been your biggest highlight so far?
My biggest highlight with coaching, whether someone wins a medal or not, is helping them to see and realise their potential. I feel that this support drives them to work harder, and to focus on specific areas, which then helps to improve their whole fight.
Who were your role models while growing up?
When I started judo I spent about four years doing one session a week for fun, and since no one in or around my family had done judo before, I didn’t really know where to look for role models or inspiration. Once I got a bit older and more involved in judo, I went to a masterclass with Iliadis, which was very exciting.
Seeing the grit and determination of Gemma Gibbons on her way to silver at the London Olympics was definitely when I started watching and being inspired by people like herself and Sally Conway, who I train with at JudoScotland.
How do you manage to balance your various roles?
Balance is key, but balance can be really hard at times. I was able to balance my studies alongside training and coaching by managing my time carefully, prioritising and focusing fully on one at a time. I timetabled my week so that I could clearly see how much time I was dedicating to each part of my life, and was then able to stick to it closely or amend it if one aspect had to come first.
Do you think being a young leader has given you skills you can use outside of judo?
Yes - I think being a young leader helps you to learn a wide range of skills that go far beyond judo.
You learn how to speak to people and communicate information face-to-face or to a group; you adapt how you speak and approach people depending on how they react to you.
This in turns helps you learn to build rapport. As well as the communication aspects, I’ve been able to develop my leadership skills, prioritised being punctual, a good listener, and have been able to offer motivation with regards to goal-setting, through sharing my own ideas and knowledge.
What are your plans for the future?
I am focusing and prioritising my training and coaching just now. In the future I hope to keep competing internationally and coaching young athletes to help them get where they want to be. I might return to university to do a Masters degree but I will always stay involved with judo.
Find out more
Visit the JudoScotland website