Rebecca MacLaren is one of only two female Strength & Conditioning coaches working in men’s professional cricket in England and Wales.

On International Women’s Day – as Becks heads into her third season as a Bear – she gives an insight into her role and how she hopes more women and girls will follow her into the sport.

“I’ve always been involved in sport. I’ve got a really sporty family, my sister is a professional golfer, so I’ve seen up close what elite sport looks like and what it takes to get there. I always knew I wanted to go into sport but not necessarily playing.”

Rebecca joined Warwickshire’s coaching team in 2021 shortly after completing her Masters in Strength & Conditioning at Loughborough University.

The 24-year-old works with the Bears senior squad, plus teenagers in the Club’s Academy and Emerging Player Programme (EPP), to tailor fitness plans designed to optimise each player’s performance on the pitch.

It’s more than simply lifting weights or doing shuttle runs. The role encompasses the entire physical development of an athlete and what is needed to allow them to be in peak physical condition.

Winter is a busy time for Becks as she puts the Bears squad through their paces during a series of gruelling fitness tests.

“We’re not the most popular members of staff during pre-season as some of our testing can be pretty tough,” joked Rebecca. “We love it, and it’s important to benchmark where each player is and how we can help them improve. Do the players love it? Maybe not.

“I work closely with the Club’s physio team but S&C is more about physical development. We work with physios on reducing the risk of injury and on return-to-play strategies for players coming back from injury.

“A lot of our work is evidence based. We use a lot of data and scientific research to shape our training programmes.

“We take from research from other sports with other athletes. In fact, we take quite a lot from studies into baseball players. There’s a lot of research been done on power hitting and throwing workloads in baseball and, naturally, there’s a synergy with cricket.

“We also consider test results on players and injury histories when tailoring each player’s plan. But there will always be space for gut feeling and what we ‘feel’ is best for the player.”

Rebecca – who’s sister is women’s pro golfer Meghan MacLaren – also leads the Club’s Strength & Conditioning of young players in the Academy, EPP and Youth Pathway.

She added: “With young players it’s important that we consider their individual physiologies and maturation rates. Children develop and their bodies mature at different speeds so you can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach as some 15-year-olds, for example, will be significantly bigger or stronger than other 15-year-olds.

“It’s important to pay close attention to maturation rates as it helps us to understand when a child might be at greatest risk of injury and for us to adjust their workloads accordingly.”

Northamptonshire-born Rebecca had spells working with Northampton Town’s women’s and academy sides and men’s performance hockey at Loughborough University before becoming a Bear.

She hopes to inspire more women and girls to consider roles in men’s professional sport.

“I’ve no issues at all fitting into the team here,” Becks added. “Obviously being around the playing staff it is male dominated but the guys have made me feel very included and I’m not treated any differently to male colleagues.

“I enjoy coming in to work every day and being around a great group of players and staff. Professionally it gives me a great sense of satisfaction to see players develop, especially Academy players who step up to the senior squad. And younger players who initially didn’t really understand how our work can help them, to a point where they are really keen to do it and appreciate how it can make them better cricketers.

“I’m proud to be one of few women S&Cs in the men’s professional game; we’re showing women can do the job just as well as men.

“I’m passionate about bringing in female placement students to have a good experience in this environment and hopefully inspire them to carve out careers in sport.

“I’d encourage girls to get into sport courses at university, be that S&C, physiotherapy or sports analysis.

“If you don’t see people in the role it’s hard to picture yourself doing it. Don’t be afraid to stick with it, there are so many opportunities out there. Put your all into it, get as much experience as you can, don’t be afraid to dream big.”

Over 13,000 sold for Women’s IT20 vs Pakistan

Pakistan Women will be in Birmingham on Saturday 11 May 2024 and over 13,000 tickets have already been sold.

With the Men’s IT20 already sold out, this is your last chance to see Pakistan at Edgbaston next summer and tickets are available from only £17, with under 16s £5.