The Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences has a strong and energetic research culture. In the RAE2008, a proportion of the Department’s research was considered to be “world-leading” and other esteem indicator scores designated 70% of staff submitted to the Sports-Related studies Unit of Assessment as being “ internationally excellent” or “world leading”. Its research activity can be divided into two distinct groups – Sociology of Sport and Exercise and Applied Sport and Exercise Sciences – which focus on advancing knowledge through high quality research that is of benefit to numerous recipients as a consequence of its impact on the exercising and sporting populations, society, public policy, culture and quality of life. Staff and postgraduate research is positively developed in an energetic environment which provides the opportunity to disseminate and discuss research through Department research seminars. This facilitates an interdisciplinary approach to a number of research questions which have evolved from identified real life problems.

Recent Submissions

  • The physiological, perceptual and neuromuscular responses of team sport athletes to a running and cycling high intensity interval training session

    Twist, Craig; Bott, Richard; Highton, Jamie; University of Chester
    Purpose: The acute physiological, perceptual and neuromuscular responses to volume-matched running and cycling high intensity interval training (HIIT) were studied in team sport athletes. Methods: In a randomized cross-over design, 11 male team sport players completed 3 x 6 min (with 5 min between sets) repeated efforts of 15 s exercising at 120% speed (s"V" ̇O2max) or power (p"V" ̇O2max) at VO2max followed by 15 s passive recovery on a treadmill or cycle ergometer, respectively. Results: Absolute mean "V" ̇O2 (ES [95%CI] = 1.46 [0.47-2.34], p < 0.001) and heart rate (ES [95%CI] = 1.53 [0.53-2.41], p = 0.001) were higher in running than cycling HIIT. Total time at >90% VO2max during the HIIT was higher for running compared to cycling (ES [95%CI] = 1.21 [0.26-2.07], p = 0.015). Overall differential RPE (dRPE) (ES [95%CI] = 0.55 [-0.32-1.38], p = 0.094) and legs dRPE (ES [95%CI] = -0.65 [-1.48-0.23], p = 0.111) were similar whereas breathing dRPE (ES [95%CI] = 1.01 [0.08-1.85], p = 0.012) was higher for running. Maximal isometric knee extension force was unchanged after running (ES [95%CI] = -0.04 [-0.80-0.8], p = 0.726) compared to a moderate reduction after cycling (ES [95%CI] = -1.17 [-2.02- -0.22], p = 0.001). Conclusion: Cycling HIIT in team sport athletes is unlikely to meet the requirements for improving run-specific metabolic adaptation but might offer a greater lower limb neuromuscular load.
  • Quantifying the hip-ankle synergy in short-term maximal cycling

    Burnie, Louise; Barratt, Paul; Davids, Keith; Worsfold, Paul; Wheat, Jon; Northumbria University; Sheffield Hallam University; English Institute of Sport; BAE Systems Digital; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2022-08-24)
    Simulation studies have demonstrated that the hip and ankle joints form a task-specific synergy during the downstroke in maximal cycling to enable the power produced by the hip extensor muscles to be transferred to the crank. The existence of the hip-ankle synergy has not been investigated experimentally. Therefore, we sought to apply a modified vector coding technique to quantify the strength of the hip-ankle moment synergy in the downstroke during short-term maximal cycling at a pedalling rate of 135 rpm. Twelve track sprint cyclists performed 3 × 4 s seated sprints at 135 rpm, interspersed with 2 × 4 s seated sprints at 60 rpm on an isokinetic ergometer. Data from the 60 rpm sprints were not analysed in this study. Joint moments were calculated via inverse dynamics, using pedal forces and limb kinematics. The hip-ankle moment synergy was quantified using a modified vector coding method. Results showed, for 28.8% of the downstroke the hip and ankle moments were in-phase, demonstrating the hip and ankle joints tend to work in synergy in the downstroke, providing some support findings from simulation studies of cycling. At a pedalling rate of 135 rpm the hip-phase was most frequent (42.5%) significantly differing from the in- (P = 0.044), anti- (P < 0.001), and ankle-phases (P = 0.004), demonstrating hip-dominant action. We believe this method shows promise to answer research questions on the relative strength of the hip-ankle synergy between different cycling conditions (e.g., power output and pedalling rates).
  • Are you lookin’ at me? A mixed-methods case study to investigate the influence of coaches’ presence on performance testing outcomes in male academy rugby league players

    Richardson, Ben; Dobbin, Nick; White, Christopher; Bloyce, Daniel; Twist, Craig; University of Chester; York St John University; Manchester Metropolitan University; Wrexham Glyndwr University; University of Chester (Sage Publications, 2022-09-21)
    The study used a mixed-methods approach to examine how the presence of coaches influenced male academy rugby league players’ performance during physical performance testing. Fifteen male rugby players completed two trials of 20 m sprint, countermovement jump and prone Yo-Yo test; one with only the lead researcher present and a second where the lead researcher conducted the battery with both the club’s lead S&C coach, academy manager, and the first team assistant and head coach present. Players and coaches then completed one-to-one semi-structured interviews to explore their beliefs, attitudes and opinions towards physical performance testing. In all tests, the players’ performance was better when the coaches were present compared to when this was conducted by the sport scientist alone. Interviews revealed performance testing was used by coaches to exercise their power over players to socialise them into a desired culture. Players’ own power was evident through additional effort during testing when coaches were present. Practitioners should ensure consistency in the presence of significant observers during performance testing of male rugby players to minimise their influence on test outcome.
  • Individual and situational factors affecting the movement characteristics and internal responses to Touch match-play during an international tournament.

    Dobbin, Nick; Thorpe, Cari; Highton, Jamie; Twist, Craig; Manchester Metropolitan University; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2022-08-03)
    The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of individual and situational factors on the movement characteristics and internal responses of players to an international Touch tournament. Using 47 International Touch players (25 men and 22 women), the associations between the movement characteristics and internal responses with individual (sprint, glycolytic test, Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test level 1 [Yo-Yo IR1], jump performance and wellbeing) and situational (sex, squad, position, competition day, points scored/conceded, result, and opposition rank) factors were examined using linear mixed modelling. Yo-Yo IR1 distance was associated with all movement characteristics and internal responses (r=-0.29 to 0.37), whilst sprint and glycolytic times only influenced mean heart rate (HRmean) (r=0.15) and high-speed distance (r=0.10), respectively. Sex influenced high-speed distance (r=-0.41), whilst squad was associated with playing time and HRmean (r=-0.10-0.33). Other associations included: playing position with all movement characteristics (r=-0.67-0.81); points conceded with relative distance (r=-0.14); winning with high metabolic power and session RPE (r=-0.07-0.09), and opposition rank with HRmean and RPE (r=0.11-0.35). Individual and situational factors can influence the movement characteristics and internal responses to Touch and should be considered when developing the characteristics of players and interpreting responses to match-play.
  • The effects of prehabilitation on body composition in patients undergoing multimodal therapy for esophageal cancer

    Halliday, Laura J; Boshier, Piers R; Doganay, Emre; Wynter-Blyth, Venetia; Buckley, John P.; Moorthy, Krishna (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2022-07-07)
    Summary Prehabilitation aims to optimize a patient’s functional capacity in preparation for surgery. Esophageal cancer patients have a high incidence of sarcopenia and commonly undergo neoadjuvant therapy, which is associated with loss of muscle mass. This study examines the effects of prehabilitation on body composition during neoadjuvant therapy in esophageal cancer patients. In this cohort study, changes in body composition were compared between esophageal cancer patients who participated in prehabilitation during neoadjuvant therapy and controls who did not receive prehabilitation. Assessment of body composition was performed from CT images acquired at the time of diagnosis and after neoadjuvant therapy. Fifty-one prehabilitation patients and 28 control patients were identified. There was a significantly greater fall in skeletal muscle index (SMI) in the control group compared with the prehabilitation patients (Δ SMI mean difference = −2.2 cm2/m2, 95% CI –4.3 to −0.1, p=0.038). Within the prehabilitation cohort, there was a smaller decline in SMI in patients with ≥75% adherence to exercise in comparison to those with lower adherence (Δ SMI mean difference = −3.2, 95% CI –6.0 to −0.5, P = 0.023). A greater decrease in visceral adipose tissue (VAT) was seen with increasing volumes of exercise completed during prehabilitation (P = 0.046). Loss of VAT during neoadjuvant therapy was associated with a lower risk of post-operative complications (P = 0.017). By limiting the fall in SMI and promoting VAT loss, prehabilitation may have multiple beneficial effects in patients with esophageal cancer. Multi-center, randomized studies are needed to further explore these findings.
  • Can Player Tracking Devices Monitor Changes in Internal Response During Multidirectional Running?

    Oxendale, Chelsea L.; Highton, Jamie; Twist, Craig; Smith, Grace; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2022-07-07)
    Purpose: We examined the movement, physiological and muscle function responses to running with and without (i.e. linear) multiple directional changes to understand which measures of external demands better reflected changes in the internal response. Methods: Twelve team sport athletes completed a linear and multidirectional running trial during which movement characteristics, oxygen consumption (), blood lactate (B[La]) and heart rate (HR) were measured. Isometric peak torque of knee extensors and flexors was also assessed before and after each trial. Results: High speed running distance was higher during the linear trial (p < 0.001), whereas time at high metabolic power (p = 0.046), number of accelerations (p < 0.001), summated HR (p = 0.003) and B[La] (p = 0.002) were higher during the multidirectional trial. Integrated external to internal ratios of high-speed running: summated HR and high-speed running: total were different between multidirectional and linear trials (p ≤ 0.001). Conversely, high metabolic power: summated HR and high metabolic power: total were similar (p ≥ 0.246). Small decrements in knee flexor (p = 0.003) and extensor torque (p = 0.004) were observed after both trials. Conclusion: Time at high metabolic power better reflects the increased internal response during running with more directional changes than high speed running
  • Effects of strength training on the biomechanics and coordination of short-term maximal cycling.

    Burnie, Louise; Barratt, Paul; Davids, Keith; orcid: 0000-0003-1398-6123; Worsfold, Paul; Wheat, Jonathan Stephen; orcid: 0000-0002-1107-6452 (2022-06-28)
    The aim was to investigate the effects of a gym-based strength training intervention on biomechanics and intermuscular coordination patterns during short-term maximal cycling. Twelve track sprint cyclists performed 3 × 4 s seated sprints at 135 rpm, interspersed with 2 × 4 s seated sprints at 60 rpm on an isokinetic ergometer, repeating the session 11.6 ± 1.4 weeks later following a training programme that included two gym-based strength training sessions per week. Joint moments were calculated via inverse dynamics, using pedal forces and limb kinematics. EMG activity was measured for 9 lower limb muscles. Track cyclists 'leg strength" increased (7.6 ± 11.9 kg, = 0.050 and ES = 0.26) following the strength training intervention. This was accompanied by a significant increase in crank power over a complete revolution for sprints at 135 rpm (26.5 ± 36.2 W, = 0.028 and ES = 0.29). The increase in leg strength and average crank power was associated with a change in biceps femoris muscle activity, indicating that the riders successfully adapted their intermuscular coordination patterns to accommodate the changes in personal constraints to increase crank power.
  • ‘It’s about portraying that we are organised …’ A case study looking at identity changes within one Free school’s Physical Education and School Sport (PESS) programme.

    Williams, Gareth; Burrows, Adam; Williams, Dean; University of Chester; St John Rigby College; Edge Hill University (Taylor and Francis, 2021-05-20)
    This research looked at changes made towards PESS at one of the first Free schools in England. Opened by parents as a new institution within an unfamiliar setting, the school had to contend with limited resources for an ambitious programme based upon a full complement of examination courses and an emphasis on prestigious team sports. A single case study methodology revealed that subsequent changes in identity stemmed from staffing changes, alongside a shift in personal philosophies towards a more inclusive ideology. Research participants agreed that ‘too much’ had been attempted ‘too soon.’ Using Goffman’s concept of ‘impression management’, changes are explained by the analysis of a team ‘performance’ communication to parents, identified by interviewees as key policy actors in the life of the school. This approach has been successful in justifying change, a finding that will help to understand the extent to which parental expectations are managed at Free schools.
  • Beyond the Rainbow: A Discourse Analysis of English Sports Organisations LGBT+ Equality Diversity and Inclusion Policies.

    Spurdens, Bradley; Bloyce, Daniel; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2022-05-31)
    LGBT+ issues and advocacy are becoming more considered in various policies throughout society. However, sport is often described as a resistive space to such policies. This paper examines the effectiveness of current LGBT+ equality policies within English sports organisations. Specifically, 188 National Governing Body (NGB) policies were reviewed as well as 67 policies from other relevant organisations. We utilised a Foucauldian discourse analysis to identify the dominant narratives within the policies. From our analysis we suggest that what is explicit throughout the policies is a partial stasis. This stasis takes the form of organisations gesturing towards change but failing to implement it concretely in their policies. We describe this process using the concept of ‘equality-proofing’ where just enough is done by organisations to gesture towards change or equality. Finally, recommendations for future policy praxis are considered.
  • Weight loss practices and eating behaviours among female physique athletes: Acquiring the optimal body composition for competition

    Alwan, Nura; Moss, Samantha; Davies, Ian; Elliott-Sale, Kirsty; Enright, Kevin; Liverpool John Moores University; University of Chester; Nottingham Trent University (Public Library of Science, 2022-01-14)
    Little is known about weight loss practices and eating behaviours in female physique athletes. This study investigated the weight loss history, practices, and key influences during the pre-competition period in a large cohort of female physique athletes stratified by division and experience level. Eating attitudes and behaviours were assessed to identify whether athletes were at risk of developing an eating disorder. Using a cross-sectional research design, female physique athletes (n = 158) were recruited and completed an anonymous online self-reported survey consisting of two validated questionnaires: Rapid Weight Loss Questionnaire and Eating Attitudes Test-26. Irrespective of division or experience, female physique athletes used a combination of weight loss practices during the pre-competition phase. Gradual dieting (94%), food restriction (64%) and excessive exercise (84%), followed by body water manipulation via water loading (73%) were the most commonly used methods. Overall, 37% of female physique athletes were considered at risk of developing an eating disorder. Additionally, 42% of female physique athletes used two pathogenic weight control methods with 34% of Figure novice athletes indicating binge eating once a week or more. The coach (89%) and another athlete (73%) were identified as key influences on athletes' dieting practices and weight loss. The prevalence of athletes identified with disordered eating symptoms and engaging in pathogenic weight control methods is concerning. In future, female physique athletes should seek advice from registered nutritionists to optimise weight management practices and minimise the risk of developing an eating disorder.
  • ‘If you haven’t got the contacts… you have no choice’: A figurational examination of unpaid work in football scouting in men’s professional football in England.

    Griffiths, Jacob; Bloyce, Daniel; University of Chester (Sage, 2022-03-09)
    Association football has been viewed as an industry with considerable lucrative career prospects; however, this has not prevented the use of unpaid staff throughout football in the UK. There has been increasing academic research regarding the professionalisation and commercialisation of football, yet there has been little acknowledgement of the role of those working in football in an unpaid capacity. Therefore, this paper examines the culture of unpaid work in football scouting, by exploring the motivations of 12 unpaid scouts at professional clubs, from a figurational perspective. Our findings suggest that scouts want to work in the industry because of their ‘love of the game’, in a ‘quest for excitement’ in their career. Unpaid work was in the pursuit of experience and contacts, the latter of which was highly valued in the industry. Football clubs are enclosed figurations and the scouts placed importance on developing interdependent social relations to gain entry to the industry, demonstrating how football may be perceived nepotistic. The likelihood of gaining a paid role directly from an unpaid position was low and therefore the decisions to continually accept unpaid work represented the notion of fantasy-laden thinking.
  • Raising the bar in sports performance research.

    Abt, Grant; orcid: 0000-0002-4079-9270; Jobson, Simon; orcid: 0000-0002-1377-2128; Morin, Jean-Benoit; orcid: 0000-0003-3808-6762; Passfield, Louis; orcid: 0000-0001-6223-162X; Sampaio, Jaime; orcid: 0000-0003-2335-9991; Sunderland, Caroline; orcid: 0000-0001-7484-1345; Twist, Craig; orcid: 0000-0001-6168-0378 (2022-01-06)
  • Bi-exponential modelling of W' reconstitution kinetics in trained cyclists

    Chorley, Alan; Bott, Richard P.; Marwood, Simon; Lamb, Kevin L.; University of Chester; Liverpool Hope University (Springer, 2021-12-18)
    Purpose The aim of this study was to investigate the individual W′ reconstitution kinetics of trained cyclists following repeated bouts of incremental ramp exercise, and to determine an optimal mathematical model to describe W′ reconstitution. Methods Ten trained cyclists (age 41 ± 10 years; mass 73.4 ± 9.9 kg; V˙O2max 58.6 ± 7.1 mL kg min−1) completed three incremental ramps (20 W min−1) to the limit of tolerance with varying recovery durations (15–360 s) on 5–9 occasions. W′ reconstitution was measured following the first and second recovery periods against which mono-exponential and bi-exponential models were compared with adjusted R2 and bias-corrected Akaike information criterion (AICc). Results A bi-exponential model outperformed the mono-exponential model of W′ reconstitution (AICc 30.2 versus 72.2), fitting group mean data well (adjR2 = 0.999) for the first recovery when optimised with parameters of fast component (FC) amplitude = 50.67%; slow component (SC) amplitude = 49.33%; time constant (τ)FC = 21.5 s; τSC = 388 s. Following the second recovery, W′ reconstitution reduced by 9.1 ± 7.3%, at 180 s and 8.2 ± 9.8% at 240 s resulting in an increase in the modelled τSC to 716 s with τFC unchanged. Individual bi-exponential models also fit well (adjR2 = 0.978 ± 0.017) with large individual parameter variations (FC amplitude 47.7 ± 17.8%; first recovery: (τ)FC = 22.0 ± 11.8 s; (τ)SC = 377 ± 100 s; second recovery: (τ)FC = 16.3.0 ± 6.6 s; (τ)SC = 549 ± 226 s). Conclusions W′ reconstitution kinetics were best described by a bi-exponential model consisting of distinct fast and slow phases. The amplitudes of the FC and SC remained unchanged with repeated bouts, with a slowing of W′ reconstitution confined to an increase in the time constant of the slow component.
  • ‘I didn’t realise the variety of people that are climbers’: A sociological exploration of young women’s propensities to engage in indoor rock climbing

    Hewitt, Jack R.; McEvilly, Nollaig; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2021-12-02)
    This paper focuses on the increasingly popular leisure pursuit of indoor rock climbing amongst young women in the UK. Adopting a Bourdieusian perspective, we draw on the concepts of field, habitus and capital to explore the factors associated with young women’s propensities to start, and continue, engaging in this activity. Data were generated through semi-structured interviews with 12 women (aged 18-25), who had been regularly engaging in indoor climbing for at least six months. Thematic analysis of the transcripts led to the construction of three themes: preconceptions of a masculine field; habitual feelings of intimidation and inferiority; and deploying and accruing ‘climbing capital’. The findings indicate that climbing’s deep-rooted classification as a ‘man’s sport’ initially facilitated feelings of intimidation and inferiority amongst the women, inhibiting their propensity to participate. However, having been introduced to climbing (often by men, such as their boyfriends or brothers), the women found that the social aspects of the activity, along with the sense of achievement they felt when participating, meant they re-evaluated their preconceptions of the field. Their access to various forms of capital facilitated their continued engagement in the field.
  • The content and load of preseason field-based training in a championship winning professional rugby league team: A case study

    Fairbank, Matthew; Highton, Jamie; Daniels, Matthew; Twist, Craig; University of Chester; St Helens RFC (Sage, 2022-01-07)
    This study reports on the content and periodisation of the preseason field-based training for a professional rugby league team. Thirty elite male rugby league players (26 ± 5 y, 180.9 ± 6.5 cm, 94 ± 9 kg) completed an 8-week preseason. Global positioning system devices and heart rate were used to monitor physical and physiological responses of different field-based training components (speed, conditioning, rugby skill and game-based training). Rugby skill training contributed the most to total distance covered, conditioning was the greatest contributor to high-speed running (>15 km.h-1) and game-based training provided the greatest high metabolic distance (>20 W.kg-1) and overall external load. Game-based training provided the greatest time with heart rate 80% estimated maximum. Field-based training comprised a 4-week increase in total distance, followed by a “regeneration week” in week 5 before a peak in load during week 6. The weekly pre-season cycle had lower loads on Monday and Thursday whereas Tuesday and Friday produced the highest loads. The preseason described herein adopted a progressive overload comprising a weekly undulating cycle. This study emphasises how skill and games-based training contributes significantly to the overall load of a professional rugby league team’s preseason with more traditional conditioning promoting high speed running load and high metabolic load.
  • Sleep disruption and depression, stress and anxiety levels in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) during the lockdown measures for COVID-19 in the UK

    Kite, Chris; Atkinson, Lou; McGregor, Gordon; Clark, Cain C. T.; Brown, James E.; Kyrou, Ioannis; Randeva, Harpal S.; University of Chester; Aston University; University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire National Health Service (NHS) Trust; Coventry University; University of Warwick (Frontiers Media, 2021-06-04)
    Background: Lockdown measures have been enforced globally in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the comorbidity burden in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), these lockdown measures may have a particularly negative impact on sleep health, quality of life (QoL), and depression/stress levels in this population. The aim of this study was to explore whether such potential problems were present in women with PCOS during the COVID-19 lockdown in the UK. Methods: UK women with PCOS were recruited through social media into a cross-sectional study during the COVID-19 lockdown. The study survey was delivered online, and included demographic and COVID-19 relevant questions, as well as validated questionnaires/scales, namely the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI), Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21), and PCOSQOL questionnaire. Results: Three hundred and thirty-three women with PCOS [median age: 30.0 (9.0) years] were recruited. Participants were dichotomized based on responses regarding the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on their sleep [negative (N = 242) vs. no/positive (N = 91) impact]. No differences were noted between groups regarding age, time since PCOS diagnosis, body mass index, or number of comorbidities. Based on the ISI, 44.2% of participants reporting a negative impact on sleep exhibited at least moderately severe clinical insomnia. Compared to those who reported no/positive effect on sleep, the participants reporting a negative impact on sleep also reported poorer QoL, based on the total PCOSQOL score, with a greater impact of PCOS and poorer mood in the corresponding PCOSQOL domains. Based on the DASS-21, the latter also had statistically higher depression and stress levels compared to the former. Finally, for this cohort significant inverse correlations were noted between the ISI and PCOSQOL scores (total and domain scores), whilst the DASS-21 and ISI scores were positively correlated (all p-values <0.001). Conclusion: The majority of recruited UK women with PCOS reported that the COVID-19 lockdown had a negative impact on their sleep, which was also associated with impaired QoL and higher depression/stress levels. Whilst further research is required, women with PCOS should be considered a vulnerable population that may experience an adverse impact on sleep, QoL and mental health well-being due to lockdown measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviour due to enforced covid-19-related lockdown and movement restrictions: A protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis

    Kite, Chris; Lagojda, Lukasz; Clark, Cain C. T.; Uthman, Olalekan; Denton, Francesca; McGregor, Gordon; Harwood, Amy E.; Atkinson, Lou; Broom, David R.; Kyrou, Ioannis; et al. (MDPI, 2021-05-14)
    Prolonged lockdown/restriction measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have reportedly impacted opportunities to be physically active for a large proportion of the population in affected countries globally. The exact changes to physical activity and sedentary behaviours due to these measures have not been fully studied. Accordingly, the objective of this PROSPERO-registered systematic review is to evaluate the available evidence on physical activity and sedentary behaviours in the general population during COVID-19-related lockdown/restriction measures, compared to prior to restrictions being in place. Defined searches to identify eligible studies published in English, from November 2019 up to the date of submission, will be conducted using the following databases: CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus, PSYCinfo, Coronavirus Research Database, Public Health Database, Publicly Available Content Database, SCOPUS, and Google Scholar. The applied inclusion criteria were selected to identify observational studies with no restrictions placed on participants, with outcomes regarding physical activity and/or sedentary behaviour during lockdown/restriction measures, and with comparisons for these outcomes to a time when no such measures were in place. Where appropriate, results from included studies will be pooled and effect estimates will be presented in random effects meta-analyses. To the best of our knowledge, this will be the first systematic review to evaluate one complete year of published data on the impact of COVID-19-related lockdown/restriction measures on physical activity and sedentary behaviour. Thus, this systematic review and meta-analysis will constitute the most up-to-date synthesis of published evidence on any such documented changes, and so will comprehensively inform clinical practitioners, public health agencies, researchers, policymakers and the general public regarding the effects of lockdown/restriction measures on both physical activity and sedentary behaviour.
  • Deteriorations in physical qualities during a 10-week unsupervised off-season period in academy rugby union players

    Twist, Craig; Williams, Jack; Dobbin, Nick; University of Chester; Manchester Metropolitan University
    Purpose: To determine the changes in physical qualities of academy rugby union players over a 10-week unsupervised off-season period. Methods: Body mass, jump height, sprint performance, and intermittent running (30:15 IFT) of 64 academy rugby union players (age = 17.2 ± 0.4 y) were recorded before and after the off-season. Results: Changes in body mass (+1.4 ± 1.3 kg), countermovement jump (-2.2 ± 1.2 cm), squat jump (-1.5 ± 1.8 cm), 10 m sprint (+0.06 ± 0.05 s), 40 m sprint (+0.13 ± 0.11 s) and 30:15 IFT (-0.8 ± 0.8 kmh-1) were observed (P < 0.001, d = -1.77 to 0.47). Only changes in body mass were greater in forwards than backs (P = 0.036, d = 0.46). Players with higher end-of-season body mass, squat jump and 30:15 IFT had greater off-season changes (P = < 0.001 to 0.044; d = 0.63 to 0.94), whilst the pre-post difference in body mass influenced CMJ (P = 0.005, d = 0.75) and 10 m momentum change (P <0.001, d = 1.61). Conclusion: Understanding the individuality of the changes in physical qualities of academy rugby union players during the off-season is important to ensure players return safely to pre-season training loads.
  • Physiological characteristics of female soccer players and health and performance considerations: A narrative review

    Randell, Rebecca; Clifford, Thomas; Drust, Barry; Moss, Samantha; Unnithan, Viswanath; De Ste Croix, Mark; Datson, Naomi; Martin, Daniel; Mayho, Hannah; Carter, James; et al. (Springer, 2021-04-12)
    Female soccer has seen a substantial rise in participation, as well as increased financial support from governing bodies over the last decade. Thus, there is an onus on researchers and medical departments to develop a better understanding of the physical characteristics and demands, and the health and performance needs of female soccer players. In this review we discuss the current research, as well as the knowledge gaps, of six major topics: physical demands, talent identification, body composition, injury risk and prevention, health, and nutrition. Data on female talent identification are scarce, and future studies need to elucidate the influence of relative age and maturation selection across age groups. Regarding the physical demands, more research is needed on the pattern of high-intensity sprinting during matches and the contribution of soccer-specific movements. Injuries are not uncommon in female soccer players, but targeting intrinsically modifiable factors with injury prevention programmes can reduce injury rates. The anthropometric and physical characteristics of female players are heterogenous and setting specific targets should be discouraged in youth and sub-elite players. Menstrual cycle phase may influence performance and injury risk; however, there are few studies in soccer players. Nutrition plays a critical role for health and performance and ensuring adequate energy intake remains a priority. Despite recent progress, there is considerably less research in female than male soccer players. Many gaps in our understanding of how best to develop and manage the health and performance of female soccer players remain.
  • Differences in the vertical and horizontal force-velocity profile between academy and senior professional rugby league players, and the implications for strength and speed training.

    Dobbin, Nick; Cushman, Simon; Clarke, J; Batsford, Jake; Twist, Craig; Manchester Metropolitan University; Reasheath College; England RFU; Salford Red Devils Rugby League Football Club; University of Chester (Edizioni Minerva Medica, 2021-03-26)
    BACKGROUND: This study compared the vertical and horizontal force-velocity (FV) profile of academy and senior rugby league players. METHODS: Nineteen senior and twenty academy players from one professional club participated in this study. The vertical FV profile was determined using a series of loaded squat jumps (0.4 to 80 kg) with jump height recorded. The horizontal FV profile involved a 30-m over-ground sprint with split times recorded at 5, 10, 15, 20 and 30 m. Theoretical maximal force (F0), velocity (V0) and power (Pmax), optimal F0 and V0, and activity specific variables (e.g. vertical FV imbalance) were determined. RESULTS: Absolute F0 and Pmax from the vertical and horizontal profile were moderately different between groups (standardised mean difference (SMD) = 0.64-1.20, P <0.001-0.026), whilst for V0, differences were small (SMD = 0.33-0.41, P = 0.149-0.283). Differences in relative F0, Pmax and optimal F0 during both assessments were trivial to moderate (SMD = 0.03-0.82, P = 0.021-0.907). CONCLUSION: These results highlight senior and academy players present with different FV profiles and highlight some potential developmental opportunities for senior and academy rugby league players that sport scientists, strength and conditioning and rugby coaches can implement when designing programmes and considering long-term athlete development.

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