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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  • 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
    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
    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
    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 Chester, 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.
  • From public issues to personal troubles: individualising social inequalities in health within local public health partnerships

    Mead, Rebecca; Thurston, Miranda; Bloyce, Daniel; University of Lancaster; Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2020-05-20)
    This paper explores public health policy implementation through partnership working at the local level by examining how local actors from public health and the wider workforce, make sense of and work on social inequalities in health. An ethnographic case study was used to examine policy implementation in one local strategic partnership in north-west England during a period of significant resource constraint. Semi-structured interviews were the primary method of data generation. Sensitising concepts from figurational sociology were used to develop a theoretical account of how local policy implementation directed at narrowing social inequalities in health tended to give rise to relatively fragmented and short-term services, projects and practices, which focused on lifestyle factors and behaviour change. Theorising partnership work as figurations goes some way to explaining the apparent paradox among participants who expressed a relatively detached appreciation of wider social influences, alongside emotional involvement in their work. This process of individualisation explains how local professionals tended to conceptualise health inequality and the social determinants of health as personal troubles. Individualisation meant that the social reality of working in partnerships on difficult issues was simplified. Thus, any scope for working on the social determinants of health tended to be overlooked. The extent to which this was intentional or a matter of struggling to see opportunities, or a mixture of the two, was difficult to discern. Although the policy landscape has changed, the findings give some insight into understanding how local collaborative processes reproduce local public health work underpinned by lifestyle choices.
  • Age-related degeneration of the lumbar paravertebral muscles: Systematic review and three-level meta-regression

    Dallaway, Alexander; Kite, Chris; Griffin, Corbyn; Duncan, Michael; Tallis, J; Renshaw, D; Hattersley, John; Coventry University, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire, Aston University, University of Chester
    Background Morphological changes of the lumbar spine muscles are not well characterised with ageing. To further the understanding of age-related degeneration of the lumbar spine musculature, normative morphological changes that occur within the paravertebral muscles must first be established. Methods A systematic review and meta-regressions were conducted adhering to PRISMA guidelines. Searches for published and unpublished data were completed in June 2019. Results Searches returned 4781 articles. 34 articles were included in the quantitative analysis. Three-level meta-analyses showed age-related atrophy (r = −0.26; 95% CI: −0.33, −0.17) and fat infiltration (r = 0.39; 95% CI: 0.28, 0.50) in the lumbar paravertebral muscles. Degenerative changes were muscle-specific and men (r = −0.32; 95% CI: −0.61, 0.01) exhibited significantly greater muscle atrophy than women (r = −0.24; 95% CI: −0.47, 0.03). Imaging modality, specifically ultrasound, also influenced age-related muscle atrophy. Measurements taken across all lumbar levels revealed the greatest fat infiltration with ageing (r = 0.58, 95% CI: 0.35, 0.74). Moderators explained a large proportion of between-study variance in true effects for muscle atrophy (72.6%) and fat infiltration (79.8%) models. Conclusions Lumbar paravertebral muscles undergo age-related degeneration in healthy adults with muscle, lumbar level and sex-specific responses. Future studies should use high-resolution imaging modalities to quantify muscle atrophy and fat infiltration.
  • A comparison of self-reported and device measured sedentary behaviour in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

    Prince, Stephanie; Cardilli, Luca; Reed, Jennifer; Saunders, Travis; Kite, Chris; Douillette, Kevin; Fournier, Karine; Buckley, John; University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Public Health Agency of Canada, Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, University of Chester, University of Ottawa, University of Prince Edward Island, Aston University
    Background Sedentary behaviour (SB) is a risk factor for chronic disease and premature mortality. While many individual studies have examined the reliability and validity of various self-report measures for assessing SB, it is not clear, in general, how self-reported SB (e.g., questionnaires, logs, ecological momentary assessments (EMAs)) compares to device measures (e.g., accelerometers, inclinometers). Objective The primary objective of this systematic review was to compare self-report versus device measures of SB in adults. Methods Six bibliographic databases were searched to identify all studies which included a comparable self-report and device measure of SB in adults. Risk of bias within and across studies was assessed. Results were synthesized using meta-analyses. Results The review included 185 unique studies. A total of 123 studies comprising 173 comparisons and data from 55,199 participants were used to examine general criterion validity. The average mean difference was -105.19 minutes/day (95% CI: -127.21, -83.17); self-report underestimated sedentary time by ~1.74 hours/day compared to device measures. Self-reported time spent sedentary at work was ~40 minutes higher than when assessed by devices. Single item measures performed more poorly than multi-item questionnaires, EMAs and logs/diaries. On average, when compared to inclinometers, multi-item questionnaires, EMAs and logs/diaries were not significantly different, but had substantial amount of variability (up to 6 hours/day within individual studies) with approximately half over-reporting and half under-reporting. A total of 54 studies provided an assessment of reliability of a self-report measure, on average the reliability was good (ICC = 0.66). Conclusions Evidence from this review suggests that single-item self-report measures generally underestimate sedentary time when compared to device measures. For accuracy, multi-item questionnaires, EMAs and logs/diaries with a shorter recall period should be encouraged above single item questions and longer recall periods if sedentary time is a primary outcome of study. Users should also be aware of the high degree of variability between and within tools. Studies should exert caution when comparing associations between different self-report and device measures with health outcomes.
  • Stochastic ordering of simulated rugby match activity produces reliable movements and associated measures of subjective task load, cognitive and neuromuscular function

    Mullen, Thomas; Twist, Craig; Highton, Jamie; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2019-07-31)
    The study assesses the test–retest reliability of movement and physiological measures during a simulated rugby match that employed activities performed in a stochastic order. Twenty male rugby players (21.4 ± 2.1 y) completed two trials of a 2 × 23 min rugby movement simulation protocol during which the order of events was performed in a stochastic order, with 7–10 days between trials. Movement characteristics, heart rate (HR), RPE, maximum voluntary contraction (MVC), voluntary activation (VA%) of the quadriceps, Stroop test and subjective task load rating (NASA-TLX) were measured. The most reliable measures of external load was relative distance (typical error [TE] and CV% = 1.5–1.6 m min−1 and 1.4–1.5%, respectively), with all other movement characteristics possessing a CV% <5%. The most reliable measure of internal load, neuromuscular function and perceptual measures were for %HRmax (TE and CV% = 1.4–1.7% and 1.4–2.1%, respectively), MVC before (TE and CV% = 10.8–14.8 N·m and 3.8–4.6%, respectively), and average RPE (TE and CV% = 0.5–0.8 AU and 3.6–5.5%, respectively). The Stroop test, NASA-TLX and blood lactate produced the least reliable measures (CV% >5%). Future studies can confidently examine changes in several perceptual, neuromuscular, physiological and movement measures related to rugby activity using stochastic movements.
  • Effects of a four-week touch rugby and self-paced interval running intervention on health markers in active young men.

    Dobbin, Nick; Bloyce, Daniel; Hughes, Stephen; Twist, Craig (Springer, 2020-03-29)
    Background: Modified team sport activity has been proposed as effective exercise modality for promoting markers of health that are comparable or greater than continuous forms of activity. However, research using modified team sports is currently limited to sedentary populations using 2-3 sessions across a minimum of 8 weeks. Aim: To investigate the effects of a four-week touch rugby and self-paced interval running intervention on a range of health markers in active men. Methods: Sixteen participants (age 26.4 ± 6.4 years) were matched for age, demographic and physical activity before completing a single touch rugby (n = 8) or running (n = 8) session per week for four weeks. Measures of systolic and diastolic blood pressure, resting heart rate (RHR), body composition and biochemical status were recorded pre- and post-intervention. Results: ANCOVA analysis revealed between-group differences for impedance (P = 0.027), fat mass (P = 0.008), percentage body fat (P = 0.008) and fat free mass (P = 0.002), with greater changes after touch rugby. Systolic blood pressure decreased for both groups with greater reductions observed after touch rugby (P = 0.002). No between-group difference was observed for RHR, interleukin-6 or C-reactive protein (P > 0.05). Contrasting internal, external and perceptual loads were observed. Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that a single session of touch rugby over a 4-week period elicited greater improvements in body composition and SBP that self-paced running, with both equally beneficial for improving RHR, diastolic blood pressure and improved inflammatory status in active young men.
  • The physiological and perceptual effects of stochastic simulated rugby league match play

    Mullen, Thomas; Twist, Craig; Highton, Jamie; University of Chester
    Purpose: To examine responses to a simulated rugby league protocol designed to include more stochastic commands, and therefore require greater vigilance, than traditional team sport simulation protocols. Methods: Eleven male university rugby players completed two trials (randomised and control) of a rugby league movement simulation protocol, separated by 7-10 days. The control trial (CON) consisted of 48 repeated ~115 s cycles of activity. The stochastic simulation (STOCH) was matched for the number and types of activity performed every 5.45 min in CON, but included no repeated cycles of activity. Movement using GPS, heart rate, RPE and Stroop test performance were assessed throughout. MVC peak torque, voluntary activation (%) and global task load were assessed after exercise. Results: The mean mental demand of STOCH was higher than CON (Effect size (ES) = 0.56; ±0.69). Mean sprint speed was higher in STOCH (22.5 ± 1.4 vs. 21.6 ± 1.6 km∙h-1; ES = 0.50; ±0.55), which was accompanied by a higher RPE (14.3 ± 1.0 vs. 13.0 ± 1.4; ES = 0.87; ±0.67) and a greater number of errors in the Stroop Test (10.3 ± 2.5 vs. 9.3 ± 1.4 errors; ES = 0.65; ±0.83). MVC peak torque (CON = -48.4 ± 31.6 N∙m, STOCH = -39.6 ± 36.6 N∙m) and voluntary activation (CON = -8.3 ± 4.8%, STOCH = -6.0 ± 4.1%) was similarly reduced in both trials. Conclusions: Providing more stochastic commands, which requires greater vigilance, might alter performance and associated physiological, perceptual and cognitive responses to team sport simulations.
  • Delivering a sports participation legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games: evidence from sport development workers in Birmingham and their experiences of a double-bind

    Lovett, Emily; Bloyce, Daniel; Smith, Andy; Edge Hill University; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2020-03-11)
    Legacy promises from London 2012 meant that those working in sport in local, non-host areas in Britain were expected to facilitate more sporting opportunities for local citizens. Legacy preparations occurred in the context of many other constraints that stemmed from Government budget cuts and provision of leisure-time sport and other leisure activities. This paper presents new evidence on a significantly under-researched area of leisure studies, namely: the experiences of those delivering leisure-sport opportunities in a non-host city and how they responded to national legacy promises. Using Elias’s concept of the double-bind, we explain the ‘crisis situation’ in which some local sports workers were enmeshed and how their acceptance of ‘fantasy-laden beliefs’ of expected demonstration effects from mega-events exacerbated their ‘crisis’ (Elias, 2007). We also draw upon participants’ post-Games reflections to consider how future host nations may wish to leverage greater leisure-sporting legacies from a mega-event.
  • The utilisation of the Rugby League Athlete Profiling battery for assessing the anthropometric and physical characteristics of rugby league players

    Twist, Craig; Highton, Jamie; Moss, Sam; Dobbin, Nicholas (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2020-01-18)
    The research described in this thesis used a standardised battery of tests called the ‘Rugby League Athlete Profiling (RLAP)’ battery for assessing the anthropometric and physical characteristics of UK-based rugby league players. The overall purpose of this research was to determine the utility of the RLAP battery, which involved establishing the use of RLAP across numerous professional clubs over a three-year period, determining the measurement properties of the tests included and investigating the factors associated with a change in the characteristics. An early version of the RLAP battery existed [called SPARQ] and was provided by the Rugby Football League with scope to alter this as part of this programme of research. Before determining if an alteration to the battery was required, it was essential to understand the tests that are currently used in rugby league for assessing the anthropometric and physical characteristics of players. As such, the systematic review initially sought to determine the volume of performance tests used in rugby league along with their measurement properties. Based on the results, it was evident that a shorter sprint distance (< 20 m) ought to be included in the battery. It was also clear that only one field-based method for measuring muscle strength was available, though had received minimal research. Furthermore, the review highlighted that no rugbyspecific intermittent running test had previously been used and that RLAP was the first battery to include such a test. Therefore, based on these results, the battery was rebranded to RLAP, which included a stature, body mass, a 10 m and 20 m sprint test, a rugby-specific intermittent test, a change of direction test, measures of lower- and whole-body power. With the RLAP battery confirmed, it was then used and the reliability (Chapter 4) and discriminant validity (Chapter 5) of its elements determined. Results indicated that the RLAP battery is reliable and does not require habituation. Furthermore, the calculation of the required change, which includes the worthwhile change and random error of each test, provides researchers and practitioners with a single value that can be used as an analytical goal to evaluate a true change in characteristics with confidence. All components of the RLAP battery (except 10 m sprint time) possessed adequate discriminant validity between youth, academy and senior rugby league players, suggesting this battery can accurately distinguish between playing standards. As noted in above, the review highlighted a rugby-specific intermittent test has yet to be established in the literature before its inclusion in the RLAP battery. Whilst it appeared to be suitable and, based on Chapters 3 and 4, is reliable and possesses discriminant validity, the test itself had received no previous attention. Given the novelty of this test, it was unknown if this test was better associated with the responses to rugby league match performance and what the physiological responses were to this test. As such, Chapter 5 sought to determine the concurrent validity of this test and compare it against the traditional Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery test level 1 (Yo-Yo IR1). The results indicated the association between prone Yo-Yo IR1 distance and the external, internal and perceptual responses to simulated match-play was improved when compared to the Yo-Yo IR1. Chapter 6 demonstrated that starting each 40 m shuttle in a prone position increases the internal, external and perceptual loads whilst reducing the total distance achieved. The degree of shared covariance between the prone Yo-Yo IR1 and Yo-Yo IR1 suggest the rugby-specific test provided insight into additional characteristics associated with rugby league performance. In studies that have reported on the anthropometric and physical characteristics, few have considered the multiple factors that might influence these with no studies conducted in rugby league. Chapter 7 sought to determine the complex interaction between anthropometric and physical characteristics that requires careful consideration by those involved in developing youth and academy athletes. The results also revealed a number of contextual factors such as season phase, league ranking, playing age and playing position that can influenced the change in characteristics over the course of a competitive season. The findings of this study highlight how some characteristics are impaired towards the end of the season, thus providing a rationale for considering in-season training loads and the application of short training interventions to off-set these negative changes. Based on negative changes in some anthropometric and physical characteristics towards the end of the year, Chapter 8 reported on the efficacy of two in-season sprint interval interventions for enhancing the physical characteristics of rugby league players. Furthermore, the study provided insight into the sensitivity of the RLAP battery for detecting changes in the characteristics of rugby league players. The results highlighted that two weeks of rugby-specific and running-based sprint interval training appeared affective for promoting the physical characteristics of rugby league players with minimal deleterious effects on wellness and neuromuscular function. Using the reliability statistics from Chapter 1, the mean change for prone Yo-Yo IR1 in the rugbyspecific group met the required change whilst changes approached this value for the running-based group despite contrasting loads. In all, this study demonstrated that sprint interval training that includes sport-specific actions is a suitable and effective training modality that can be used in-season. In addition, the result demonstrated how the prone Yo-Yo IR1 was sensitive to change across the intervention period whilst others were not sensitive to sprint interval training due to the lack of specificity. This thesis provides a thorough evaluation of the RLAP battery that can be used by researcher and practitioners to assess the anthropometric and physical characteristics of rugby league players. The battery is reliable and possess discriminant validity, while the prone Yo-Yo IR1 has concurrent validity and is sensitive to change during a lowvolume in-season training intervention. Overall, this thesis provides justification for the tests included and comprehensively examines the utility of this battery for assessing the anthropometric and physical characteristics of rugby league players. Practically, this battery of tests can be used by researcher and applied practitioners in rugby league with an understanding of the reliability, validity and sensitivity of the tests along with some factors that might influence the characteristics of players across a season.
  • Maximal punching performance in amateur boxing: An examination of biomechanical and physical performance-related characteristics

    Lamb, Kevin; Thomson, Edd; Smith, Grace; Stanley, Edward, R (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2020-01)
    Punches in boxing are intricate actions requiring the coordinated and synergistic recruitment of leg, trunk and arm musculature. Maximal punches can have a marked impact on the outcomes of boxing contests. Currently, there is an absence of research appraising the biomechanics and physical performance-related qualities associated with boxing punches, and as such, there are no practical guidelines pertaining to resistance training and its impact upon these important characteristics. In this respect, coaches and boxers are reliant consequently upon non-scientific approaches to training and contest preparation. Thus, the purpose of this thesis was to quantify the biomechanics and physical performance-related qualities associated with maximal punching techniques common to amateur boxing, and investigate the extent to which resistance training enhances such features. Study 1 quantified the three-dimensional kinetics and kinematics of maximal punches common to boxing competition to identify the differences between punch types (straights, hooks, and uppercuts), whilst Study 2 investigated the movement variability of these measures across punch types. These studies revealed significant differences for the majority of kinetic and kinematic variables between punch types. High within-subject, between-subject, and biological variability were recorded for the same variables across punch types, independent of the amount of boxing experience. These findings confirm that kinetic and kinematic characteristics vary from punch to punch, with boxers appearing to manipulate kinematic variables in order to achieve a consistent intensity and end-product. Study 3 quantified the relationships between physical performance-related traits and kinetic and kinematic qualities of maximal punches, and revealed moderate-to-large associations with muscular strength and power. From this, Study 4 appraised the extent to which strength and contrast resistance training enhanced maximal punch biomechanics and physical performance-related qualities. The findings highlighted that contrast training was superior among male amateur boxers over a six-week intervention, though strength training alone also brought about improvements. This current research has advanced our understanding of maximal punching and the influence of resistance training on a variety of its determinants. Nonetheless, future research is required to identify if the same findings can be generalised to higher standards of boxing and whether alternative strength and conditioning strategies are equally, or more effective.

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