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.

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  • 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.
    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, N; Cushman, S; Clarke, J; Batsford, J; Twist, C; Manchester Metropolitan University; Reasheath College; England RFU; Salford Red Devils Rugby League Football Club; University of Chester
    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.
  • What is PE and who should teach it? Undergraduate PE students’ views and experiences of the outsourcing of PE in the UK

    McEvilly, Nollaig; University of Chester
    This paper investigates beginning BSc Physical Education (PE) students’ views and experiences of the outsourcing of PE in the UK. Outsourcing involves the provision of PE by external providers such as sports coaches. PE in the UK (and other neoliberal Western contexts) is a site in which outsourcing has become increasingly normalised. I anticipated that, as first year undergraduates, the participants would have relatively recent experience of outsourcing as pupils/students (i.e. experience of receiving outsourced PE provision). Data were generated through written narratives (n = 16), completed on the participants’ first day at university, and follow-up semi-structured interviews (n = 10). Drawing on a Foucaultian theoretical framework, I employed a poststructural type of discourse analysis concerned with analysing patterns in language. Referring to PE, the participants drew heavily on a sport discourse, often conflating PE and sport and emphasising the necessity of teachers having knowledge and experience of sports content and skills, as well as a pedagogical discourse (and, to a lesser extent, a ‘healthy lifestyles’ discourse). The participants had a range of experiences of outsourcing in PE, particularly at primary level. They were in favour of primary PE being taught by either specialist PE teachers, or sports coaches (rather than generalist teachers alone). They spoke positively about their experiences of external provision at both primary and secondary school. While few critical comments were provided, participants raised concerns about external providers’ pedagogical knowledge, and some questioned if teachers might feel devalued by external providers being brought in to teach aspects of their curriculum. In general, while the participants recognised teachers’ pedagogical expertise, they also valued external providers’ perceived content knowledge and sporting experience. As such, by conflating PE and sport, they considered that PE should be taught by sport ‘experts’ and that external providers could enhance schools’ internal capabilities.
  • Low body fat does not influence recovery after muscle-damaging lower-limb plyometrics in young male team sport athletes

    Fernandes, John; Lamb, Kevin; Twist, Craig; University of Chester
    Aim: This study assessed the influence of fat mass to fat-free mass ratio (FM:FFM) on recovery from plyometric exercise. Method: After assessment of body composition, 20 male team sport players (age 20.7 1.1 years; body mass 77.1 11.5 kg) were divided into low- (n = 10; 0.11 0.03) and normal- (n = 10; 0.27 0.09) fat groups based on FM:FFM ratio. Thereafter, participants completed measurements of knee extensor torque at 60 and 240 s􀀀1, countermovement jump flight time, plasma creatine kinase (CK) activity and perceived muscle soreness (VAS) before and at 0, 24 and 48 h after 10 10 maximal plyometric vertical jumps. Results: Evidence of muscle damage was confirmed by alterations in VAS, peak torque at 60 and 240 s􀀀1 and flight time at 0, 24 and 48 h after plyometric exercise (P < 0.05). CK was increased at 0 and 24 h (P < 0.05) but returned to baseline values by 48 h. No time by group e ects were observed for any of the dependent variables (P > 0.05). Conclusion: The current findings indicate that while muscle damage was present after plyometric exercise, the magnitude was similar across the two body composition groups. Applied practitioners can allow for a similar recovery time after plyometric exercise in those with low and normal body fat.
  • Development of a reliable and valid kata performance analysis template

    Augustovicova, Dusana; Argajova, Jaroslava; Rupcik, Lubos; Thomson, Edward; University of Chester
    Abstract With the new kata evaluation procedure, examination of the underpinning features of successful kata performance appears warranted.The purpose of the study was to create a valid and reliable analysis template for the assessment of the movement characteristics of competitive kata. Following the creation, and scrutiny, of action variables and operational definitions, three observers were provided with the operational definitions of the performance indicators, example kata clips and instructions detailing the method of ‘tagging’ using a computerized analysis software. Intra- and inter-rater reliability assessment and median sign tests, and Cohen’s Kappa coefficient were conducted. There were no significant differences (p ˃ 0.05) between the observer’s and analyst’s test-retest observations for all the performance indicators. The intra-rater reliability was found to be “almost perfect” in all raters (LA K = 0.99 [95% CI: 0.98-0.99]; PA K = 0.94 [95% CI: 0.93-0.95]; KR K = 0.94 [95% CI: 0.93-0.95]) and the inter-rater Kappa coefficients were moderate (K = 0.55 ± 0.05). This study has demonstrated that a novel performance analysis template yields reliable observations of the key movements during kata and the procedures could therefore be used to objectively appraise features of successful performance.
  • Aging and Recovery After Resistance-Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage: Current Evidence and Implications for Future Research

    Fernandes, John F. T.; Lamb, Kevin L; Norris, Jonathan P; Moran, Jason; Drury, Benjamin; Borges, Nattai; Twist, Craig; University of Chester; Hartpury University; University of Essex; The University of Newcastle (Australia); Derbyshire County Cricket Club
    Aging is anecdotally associated with a prolonged recovery from resistance training, though current literature remains equivocal. This brief review considers the effects of resistance training on indirect markers of muscle damage and recovery (i.e., muscle soreness, blood markers, and muscle strength) in older males. With no date restrictions, four databases were searched for articles relating to aging, muscle damage, and recovery. Data from 11 studies were extracted for review. Of these, four reported worse symptoms in older compared with younger populations, while two have observed the opposite, and the remaining studies (n = 6) proposed no differences between age groups. It appears that resistance training can be practiced in older populations without concern for impaired recovery. To improve current knowledge, researchers are urged to utilize more ecologically valid muscle-damaging bouts and investigate the mechanisms which underpin the recovery of muscle soreness and strength after exercise in older populations.
  • Perfectionism Among Young Female Competitive Irish Dancers: Prevalence and Relationship with Injury Responses

    Pentith, Rebecca; Moss, Samantha; Lamb, Kevin; Edwards, Carmel; University of Chester
    The present study investigated the prevalence of perfectionism among young competitive Irish dancers and examined the relationships between three different types of perfectionistic tendencies and coping strategies ultilised when experiencing injury. Sixty-eight female dancers (Mage = 14 ± 2.3 years) completed the Child-Adolescent Perfectionism Scale and the Ways of Coping Questionnaire, alongside a record of injuries incurred during their championship careers. Participants reported 189 injuries, mostly involving lower extremities. Seventy-nine percent of dancers reported perfectionistic tendencies (mixed perfectionism 40%, pure self-oriented perfectionism 29%, pure socially prescribed perfectionism 10%), and most frequently adopted planful problem-solving, seeking social support, distancing, and self-controlling strategies to cope with injury. Perfectionism and the utilisation of two coping strategies were found to be significantly (p = .03) related; planful problem-solving was used typically ‘quite a bit or a great deal’ by the mixed perfectionism group, but only ‘somewhat’ by the non-perfectionism group, whereas confrontive coping was typically not used by the non-perfectionism group, but was used ‘somewhat’ by the mixed perfectionism group. Given the high frequency and intensity of perfectionism and the simulaneous employment of problem- and emotion-focused strategies when coping with injuries, it is suggested that practitioners acknowledge such tendencies when supporting their athletes’ in order to reduce the likely negative psychological impact.
  • Effect of combined home-based, overground robotic-assisted gait training and usual physiotherapy on clinical functional outcomes in people with chronic stroke: a randomized controlled trial

    Wright, Amy; Stone, Keeron; Martinelli, Louis; Fryer, Simon; Smith, Grace; Lambrick, Danielle; Stoner, Lee; Jobson, Simon; Faulkner, James; University of Winchester; University of Gloucestershire; Hobbs Rehabilitation; University of Gloucestershire; University of Chester; University of Southampton; University of North Carolina; University of Winchester; University of Winchester (SAGE, 2020-12-27)
    Objectives:To assess the effect of a home-based over-ground robotic-assisted gait training program using the AlterG Bionic Leg orthosis on clinical functional outcomes in people with chronic stroke. Design:Randomized controlled trial. Setting:Home. Participants:Thirty-four ambulatory chronic stroke patients who recieve usual physiotherapy. Intervention:Usual physiotherapy plus either (1)10-week over-ground robotic-assisted gait training program (n=16), using the device for 30 minutes per day, or (2)control group (n=18), 30 minutes of physical activity per day. Measurements:The primary outcome was the Six-Minute Walk Test. Secondary outcomes included: Timed-Up-and-Go, Functional Ambulation Categories, Dynamic Gait Index and Berg Balance Scale. Physical activity and sedentary time were assessed using accelerometry. All measurements were completed at baseline, 10- and 22-weeks after baseline. Results:Significant increases in walking distance were observed for the Six-Minute Walk Test between baseline and 10-weeks for over-ground robotic-assisted gait training (135±81m vs. 158±93m, respectively; P0.001) but not for control (122±92m vs. 119±84m, respectively). Findings were similar for Functional Ambulation Categories, Dynamic Gait Index and Berg Balance Scale (all P0.01). For over-ground robotic-assisted gait training, there were increases in time spent stepping, number of steps taken, number of sit-to-stand transitions, and reductions in time spent sitting/supine between baseline and 10-weeks (all P<.05). The differences observed in all of the aforementioned outcome measures were maintained at 22-weeks, 12 weeks after completing the intervention (all P >.05). Conclusion:Over-ground robotic-assisted gait training combined with physiotherapy in chronic stroke patients led to significant improvements in clinical functional outcomes and physical activity compared to the control group. Improvements were maintained at 22 weeks.
  • Fitness Monitoring in Elite Soccer Players: Group vs. Individual Analyses.

    Rabbani, Alireza; Kargarfard, Mehdi; Twist, Craig (2020-11)
    The aims of this study were to (a) examine changes in group and individual HR measures during a submaximal warm-up test, and (b) investigate the relationship between accumulated internal training loads and HR changes during an in-season phase among elite soccer players (n = 14). Before and after an in-season phase (24 days), exercise HR (HRex) and HR recovery (HRR) expressed either as the number of beats recovered (HRR60s) or as the mean HR (HRpost1) during 1 minute of recovery were analyzed. Heart rate measures were expressed as the % of maximal HR. Session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE) was computed for all training/match sessions. Group and individual HR changes were analyzed using magnitude-based inferences. Pearson correlation coefficients were also used to examine the relationships. Group analyses of HR changes revealed there were possibly to likely trivial changes in all HR measures. When analyzing individual data, no substantial change was observed for HRR60s%. However, substantial changes in HRex% and HRpost1% were observed for 4/14 and 5/14 players, respectively. The relationships between HRex% and HRpost1% were nearly perfect (r = 0.90, confidence limits [0.82-0.95]). The associations between changes in HRex% and HRpost1% were also nearly perfect (r = 0.92, 0.80-0.97). A very large inverse correlation was observed between HRex% and accumulated sRPE (r = -0.75, -0.44 to -0.90). This study highlights the value of conducting individual vs. group aerobic fitness monitoring. This study also showed the importance of how HRR is reported when aerobic fitness monitoring of elite soccer players.
  • A quest for relaxation? A figurational analysis of the transformation of yoga into a global leisure time phenomenon

    Thurston, Miranda; Bloyce, Daniel; Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, University of Chester
    Eric Dunning and Norbert Elias began developing their concept ‘quest for excitement’ in the 1960s. In this paper we consider the concept in the context of their work on the civilizing process and leisure in the sparetime spectrum, applying it to an analysis of the global diffusion and transformation of yoga. In so doing, we develop a preliminary theoretical account of its global popularity as a leisure-time movement form. We specifically consider the extent to which yoga’s transformation from the late 19th century onwards can be understood as a socially generated psychological quest for excitement rather than as a need for relaxation. We take a long-term developmental perspective, focusing on processes of globalization to explain the transformation of yoga into an increasing variety of forms. We argue that its global popularity is linked to its transformation into a diversity of styles, which provide flexible, individualized, non-competitive and health-oriented leisure opportunities that have become attractive to an increasing number of people. We conclude that the contouring of yoga in this way reflects the socially generated leisure time needs of complex societies. Our preliminary theoretical account, informed by the work of Dunning and colleagues illuminates how yoga, as a polymorphous social practice, provides leisure enclaves which can lead to an upsurge of satisfying emotions and hence can be psychologically restorative.
  • “It is always going to change” – examining the experiences of managing top-down changes by sport development officers working in national governing bodies of sport in England

    Thompson, Anne; Bloyce, Daniel; Mackintosh, Chris; Manchester Metropolitan University; University of Chester
    Research question: This article examines how sport development officers (SDOs) employed within national governing bodies of sport (NGB) managed Sport England’s top-down policy changes from 2008 to 2015. The main research question examines the experiences of SDOs as they responded to, and managed these changes at the community level. Research methods: In-depth, semi-structured interviews gathered qualitative data from 18 employees from four NGBs, including 6 SDOs, Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), senior managers and a representative from Sport England, with responsibility for policy formulation. Results and Findings: SDOs felt increasingly constrained in how they worked due to the intensification of a top-down and cyclical process of change, a result-orientated approach and the sporting habitus of SDOs. These factors combined to create resistance among some SDOs as the power differentials within the interdependencies formed, which contributed to the unintentional outcome of elongating the time taken to implement policy on the ground. Implications: This article has developed more object-adequate insights into how SDOs have responded to, and managed top-down policy implementation. The article suggests recommendations for policy-makers, Sport England and NGBs, to consider the dynamic interdependencies in which employees are bound and a more rounded and processual view to policy formulation and implementation
  • Sporting celebrity and conspicuous consumption: A case study of professional footballers in England

    Law, Graeme; Bloyce, Daniel; Waddington, Ivan; York St John University; University of Chester
    Association football is a lucrative sport with high financial rewards for top players. However, there has been little empirical work on the lifestyles of professional footballers. Based on interviews with 29 current and former male professional footballers, this paper examines the relationship between money, status and image management within and outside the changing room. The concept of conspicuous consumption is used to help explain players’ attitudes to money, their relationships with others within the football environment and how they advertise their earnings in an environment where open discussion of wages is seen as taboo. Our findings suggest that professional footballers are expected to display a particular image of the professional footballer and this constrains players, even those on lower incomes, to buy expensive clothes and accessories in order to be accepted by others. Players who do not conform to the expected image may be subject to sanctions by their teammates.
  • "Even if you don't care ... you do care afer all"

    Røset, Linda; Green, Ken; Thurston, Miranda; Inland University of Applied SCience, Norway; University of Chester, UK; Inland University of Applied Sciences, Norway
    In the past decade or more, improving young people’s mental health has been identified as a priority for policy-makers in many countries, including Norway. Physical education (PE), as a setting for physical activity, is increasingly viewed as having a potentially significant role to play in addressing mental health among the young. This paper reports the findings from a study of 148 Norwegian youngsters (68 girls and 80 boys) from the 10th grade (15-16 year olds) in eight secondary schools in Norway in 2017. It explores Norwegian youngsters’ experiences of PE in relation to aspects of their mental health – specifically, being judged and, by extension, ‘othered’. The findings suggest that PE may undoubtedly serve to generate positive feelings associated with physical activity and games and, in doing so, bolster some youngsters’ self-esteem and self-identities. On the other hand, however, for those less competent in sporting terms, and whose bodily self-image is not particularly positive, the public nature of PE and the nature of the activities that constitute the subject can give rise to unplanned and unintended harm to some youngsters’ mental health – especially in countries, such as Norway, where sport is a significant aspect of the group habitus and collective ‘we-group’ identity.
  • The Application of Critical Power, the Work Capacity above Critical Power (W'), and its Reconstitution: A Narrative Review of Current Evidence and Implications for Cycling Training Prescription

    Chorley, Alan; Lamb, Kevin L; University of Chester
    The two-parameter critical power (CP) model is a robust mathematical interpretation of the power–duration relationship, with CP being the rate associated with the maximal aerobic steady state, and W' the fixed amount of tolerable work above CP available without any recovery. The aim of this narrative review is to describe the CP concept and the methodologies used to assess it, and to summarize the research applying it to intermittent cycle training techniques. CP and W' are traditionally assessed using a number of constant work rate cycling tests spread over several days. Alternatively, both the 3-min all-out and ramp all-out protocols provide valid measurements of CP and W' from a single test, thereby enhancing their suitability to athletes and likely reducing errors associated with the assumptions of the CP model. As CP represents the physiological landmark that is the boundary between heavy and severe intensity domains, it presents several advantages over the de facto arbitrarily defined functional threshold power as the basis for cycle training prescription at intensities up to CP. For intensities above CP, precise prescription is not possible based solely on aerobic measures; however, the addition of the W' parameter does facilitate the prescription of individualized training intensities and durations within the severe intensity domain. Modelling of W' reconstitution extends this application, although more research is needed to identify the individual parameters that govern W' reconstitution rates and their kinetics
  • The influence of warm-up duration on simulated rugby league interchange match performance

    Williams, Robert; Gillham, Scott; Highton, Jamie; Twist, Craig; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2020-09-10)
    Objective: The study was conducted to understand the effects of a short (10-minute) and a long (30-minute) duration warm-up on subsequent readiness to exercise and movement during simulated rugby league match play. Methods: Using a randomised cross-over design, 13 male rugby players (age: 23.6 ± 4.1 y) completed a 10- or 30-minute warm-up immediately before 2 x 23 min rugby league movement simulation protocol. Comparisons of the responses to the warm-up and during the simulation were made between each trial. Results: Total distance, high- and low speed running and tympanic temperature (ES = 0.56 to 20.8) were all higher in the 30 min warm-up, with differences in relative distance and heart rate unclear (ES = -0.36 to 0.06). Differences in participants’ readiness to exercise after the warm-ups were unclear (ES = 0.25). Differences between trials for movement characteristics (ES = -0.13 to -0.32), RPE (ES = -0.13 to 0.04) and B[La] after the simulation were mostly unclear, with only trivial changes in high-speed running (ES = 0.08) and a lower heart rate (ES = -0.26) between the two playing bouts after the 30 min warm-up trial. Conclusion: Practitioners can use warm-ups between 10 or 30 minutes for rugby league interchange players without any implications for subsequent match running performance.
  • Biomechanical measures of short-term maximal cycling on an ergometer: a test-retest study

    Burnie, Louise; Barratt, Paul; Davids, Keith; Worsfold, Paul; Wheat, Jon; Swansea University, Sheffield Hallam University, University of Chester, English Institute of Sport, Team INEOS, Manchester, UK
    An understanding of test-retest reliability is important for biomechanists, such as when assessing the longitudinal effect of training or equipment interventions. Our aim was to quantify the test-retest reliability of biomechanical variables measured during short-term maximal cycling. Fourteen track sprint cyclists performed 3 x 4 s seated sprints at 135 rpm on an isokinetic ergometer, repeating the session 7.6 ± 2.5 days later. Joint moments were calculated via inverse dynamics, using pedal forces and limb kinematics. EMG activity was measured for 9 lower limb muscles. Reliability was explored by quantifying systematic and random differences within- and between-session. Within-session reliability was better than between-sessions reliability. The test-retest reliability level was typically moderate to excellent for the biomechanical variables that describe maximal cycling. However, some variables, such as peak knee flexion moment and maximum hip joint power, demonstrated lower reliability, indicating that care needs to be taken when using these variables to evaluate biomechanical changes. Although measurement error (instrumentation error, anatomical marker misplacement, soft tissue artefacts) can explain some of our reliability observations, we speculate that biological variability may also be a contributor to the lower repeatability observed in several variables including ineffective crank force, ankle kinematics and hamstring muscles’ activation patterns.
  • Physiological and anthropometric determinants of critical power, W′ and the reconstitution of W′ in trained and untrained male cyclists

    Chorley, Alan; Bott, Richard P; Marwood, Simon; Lamb, Kevin L; University of Chester (Springer, 2020-08-09)
    Abstract Purpose This study examined the relationship of physiological and anthropometric characteristics with parameters of the critical power (CP) model, and in particular the reconstitution of W′ following successive bouts of maximal exercise, amongst trained and untrained cyclists. Methods Twenty male adults (trained nine; untrained 11; age 39 ± 15 year; mass 74.7 ± 8.7 kg; V̇O2max 58.0 ± 8.7 mL kg−1 min−1) completed three incremental ramps (20 W min−1) to exhaustion interspersed with 2-min recoveries. Pearson’s correlation coefficients were used to assess relationships for W′ reconstitution after the first recovery (W′rec1), the delta in W′ reconstituted between recoveries (ΔW′rec), CP and W′. Results CP was strongly related to V̇O2max for both trained (r = 0.82) and untrained participants (r = 0.71), whereas W′ was related to V̇O2max when both groups were considered together (r = 0.54). W′rec1 was strongly related to V̇O2max for the trained (r = 0.81) but not untrained (r = 0.18); similarly, ΔW′rec was strongly related to V̇O2max (r = − 0.85) and CP (r = − 0.71) in the trained group only. Conclusions Notable physiological relationships between parameters of aerobic fitness and the measurements of W′ reconstitution were observed, which differed among groups. The amount of W′ reconstitution and the maintenance of W′ reconstitution that occurred with repeated bouts of maximal exercise were found to be related to key measures of aerobic fitness such as CP and V̇O2max. This data demonstrates that trained cyclists wishing to improve their rate of W′ reconstitution following repeated efforts should focus training on improving key aspects of aerobic fitness such as V̇O2max and CP.
  • Assessment of energy availability and associated risk factors in professional female soccer players

    Moss, Samantha; Randell, Rebecca; Burgess, Darren; Ridley, Stephanie; Ó Cairealláin, Cairbre; Allison, Richard; Rollo, Ian; University of Chester; Gatorade Sports Science Institute, Arsenal Football Club, Tipperary GAA, Melbourne Football Club (Taylor & Francis, 2020-08-06)
    This study aimed to assess energy availability (EA), alongside possible risk factors of reduced or low EA of professional female soccer players during a competitive season. Thirteen players (age: 23.7 ± 3.4 y, stature: 1.69 ± 0.08 m, body mass: 63.7 ± 7.0 kg) engaged in a 5-day (two rest days, one light training, heavy training and match day) monitoring period. Energy intake (EI) and expenditure during exercise (EEE) were measured. EA was calculated and categorised as optimal, reduced or low (≥45, 31-44, ≤30 kcal·kg FFM-1·day-1, respectively). Relationships between EA and bone mineral density, resting metabolic rate (RMR), plasma micronutrient status, biochemical markers and survey data were assessed. EA was optimal for 15%, reduced for 62% and low for 23% of players. Higher EA was observed on rest days compared to others (P<0.05). EA was higher for the light compared to the heavy training day (P<0.001). EEE differed significantly between days (P<0.05). EI (2124 ± 444 kcal), carbohydrate (3.31 ± 0.64 g·kg·day-1) and protein (1.83 ± 0.41 g·kg·day-1) intake remained similar (P>0.05). Survey data revealed 23% scored ≥ 8 on the Low Energy Availability in Females Questionnaire and met criteria for low RMR (ratio <0.90). Relationships between EA and risk factors were inconclusive. Most players displayed reduced EA and did not alter EI or carbohydrate intake to training or match demands. Although cases of low EA were identified, further work is needed to investigate possible long-term effects and risk factors of low and reduced EA separately to inform player recommendations.
  • Influence of contextual factors, technical performance and movement demands on the subjective task load associated with professional rugby league match-play

    Mullen, Thomas; Twist, Craig; Daniels, Matthew; Dobbin, Nick; Highton, Jamie; University of Chester
    Purpose: The aim of the study was to identify the association between several contextual match factors, technical performance and external movement demands on the subjective task load of elite rugby league players. Methods: Individual subjective task load, quantified using the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Task Load Index (NASA-TLX), was collected from 29 professional rugby league players from one club competing in the European Super League throughout the 2017 season. The sample consisted of 26 matches, culminating in 441 individual data points. Linear mixed-modelling was adopted to analyze the data for relationships and revealed that various combinations of contextual factors, technical performance and movement demands were associated with subjective task load. Results: Greater number of tackles (effect size correlation ± 90% CI; η2= 0.18 ±0.11), errors (η2= 0.15 ±0.08) decelerations (η2= 0.12 ±0.08), increased sprint distance (η2= 0.13 ±0.08), losing matches (η2= 0.36 ±0.08) and increased perception of effort (η2= 0.27 ±0.08) led to most likely – very likely increases in subjective total task load. The independent variables included in the final model for subjective mental demand (match outcome, time played and number of accelerations) were unclear, excluding a likely small correlation with the number of technical errors (η2= 0.10 ±0.08). Conclusions: These data provide a greater understanding of the subjective task load and their association with several contextual factors, technical performance and external movement demands during rugby league competition. Practitioners could use this detailed quantification of internal loads to inform the prescription of recovery sessions and current training practices.
  • Enhancing the formulation of Shared Mental Models in football players

    Robbins, Mandy; Newton, Joseph L. (University of ChesterWrexham Glyndwr University, 2020-06-24)
    A significant amount of research has examined the development of Decision-Making (DM) in sport. However, only a limited amount of research has explored decisions in the context of which they are made. Using the Naturalistic Decision-Making (NDM) paradigm this thesis employs Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) approaches and Performance Analysis (PA) within a professional football environment, through the lens of a performance analyst. Applying the DM Framework, outlined by Richards, Collins and Mascarenhas (2016), this thesis applied a mixed method approach using three CTA approaches; Critical Decision Method (CDM), Thinking Aloud Problem Solving (TAPS) and Concept Mapping (CM) to examine the development of Shared Mental Models (SMMs). Additionally, PA data was collected to measure on-field application of SMMs in the format of match performance. Method: The development of DM ability was examined using professional footballers (n=16) and professional coaches (n=2), over an eight-week period. PA provided video footage of critical attacking play situations for use in team meetings. Meetings were designed to empower players in the DM process and involved the integration of CTA approaches in the form of a DM booklet. The booklet consisted of questions and diagrams relating to six clips identified by the coaches. Players and coaches would reflect on the clips individually and collectively as a team in an off-field setting. Each clip was split into three Phases, and six clips were shown to all team members in weekly meetings. To ascertain the retention of SMMs developed over the eight weeks, qualitative narratives recorded by the players (DM booklets) were analysed. No CTA processes were applied on week seven, as this was classified as a retention week. The CTA booklet recorded individual team members understanding of the situation and facilitated group discussions after clips. PA analysed data in the form of match statistics to assess transference of SMMs to the field of play. Results: CTA analysed data qualitatively indicated that individual Situational Awareness (SA) improved. Players identified more key themes in weeks six and eight compared to week one, indicating a development in SMMs and increased compatibility of SMM outlined by the two expert coach’s SA. Additionally, the complexity of the players SMMs and team SMMs developed. The PA data illustrated that the team generated more shots on target and more shots on target per Phase 3 entry in weeks six and eight than week zero (pre-investigation). The improved on-field performance of key performance indicators, combined with the increased identification of key themes and growing compatibility of players SMM in line with the expert coaches, demonstrate a more developed SMM which resulted in enhanced DM by the team. In summary, the application of PA and CTA methods within an off-field environment provides a mechanism to develop SMMs in a professional football team which transfer to enhancing on-field team DM in competitive play. However, this work utilising off-field learning environments to enhance DM, is still in its early stages and more research is needed.

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