This collection contains the Doctoral and Masters by Research theses produced within the department.

Recent Submissions

  • An Examination of the Field-Based Training Practices in European Super League’s first Quadruple Winning Champions

    Twist, Craig; Highton, Jamie; Fairbank, Matthew (University of Chester, 2023-02)
    Using a case study approach, the primary aim of this thesis was to develop an understanding of field-based training practices of a successful professional rugby league team. The research findings were applied to inform the coaching practices of the club but also offered insight that might be of interest more widely given the success of the team over an extended period. Chapter 4 quantified the types of training used during a preseason by the team. There was a 4-week increase in external load, followed by a “regeneration week” in week 5 before an increase in load during week 6. A weekly cycle also emerged with Monday primarily comprising Rugby Skill drills and Speed drills, Tuesday largely Rugby Skill based alongside Conditioning and Game-Based Training, Thursday was a mix of training types with Friday primarily consisting of Game-Based Training that also coincided with the week’s highest values for total distance, high-speed running, and high metabolic distance. Chapter 5 examined the associations between the types of training in preseason and improvements in intermittent running performance (i.e., prone Yo-Yo IR1). The intensity (r = 0.61; 95% CI 0.18, 0.84) and PlayerLoadTM (r = 0.44; 95% CI -0.05, 0.76) during Game-Based Training and high-speed running (r = 0.61; 95% CI 0.18, 0.84) in Conditioning had positive associations with the mean change in prone Yo-Yo IR1 performance (200 ± 143 m [18.1 ± 13.5%]). Total duration of Game-Based Training had a negative association with change in prone Yo-Yo IR1 performance (r = -0.57; 95% CI -0.82, -0.12). These data enable the manipulation of training practices to target specific external metrics (e.g., intensity, PlayerLoadTM, high-speed running) when improvements in intermittent running capacity of professional rugby league players is the desired goal. Chapter 6 examined the differences in external and internal load of field-based training between the three different in-season match-day microcycles and assessed the differences in external demands of matches between the microcycles. Game-Based Training contributed the most to external (total distance, high metabolic distance and PlayerLoadTM) and internal load (highest HRmax, time spent in HR band 5 and HR band 6) for the main training day in long (MD-5), medium (MD-4), and short (MD-2) turnarounds. Both short (86.7 ± 7.9 m.min-1) and medium (86.5 ± 10.9 m.min-1) turnaround matches resulted in lower intensity values than long turnarounds (89.5 ± 7.6m.min-1; P < 0.05). No other differences in external demands were observed between the 3 different match-day microcycles. The consistency in match-day external demands is a desirable outcome as the training week has effectively prepared athletes to perform in match. Additionally, the extensive use of Game-Based Training allowed for the maintenance of physical qualities whilst technically and tactically developing and preparing players for competition. Chapter 7 examined the effect altering match rules (because of COVID-19) had on the external demands of match play. There were increases in whole team high-speed running (r = 0.09; 95% CI 0.02, 0.15 c.f. r = 0.29; 95% CI 0.20, 0.38) and an increased ball-in-play time (52.16 ± 5.01 min c.f. 55.58 ± 4.04 min). These changes highlight the impact of rule changes on the movement demands of professional rugby league matches and the implications for the design of appropriate training practices to better prepare players. Chapter 8 assessed the effects altering the area size per-person of Game-Based Training and the length of Conditioning drills has on key external load metrics. The study showed that increasing the area of Game-Based Training by 10 m2 per-person resulted in athletes covering greater distance (539.3 ± 49.6 m c.f. 500.9 ± 62.9 m & 555.4 ± 55.9 m c.f. 491.4 ± 40.1 m), higher intensities (132.1 ± 12.1 m.min-1 c.f. 122.4 ± 15.4 m.min-1 & 136.8 ± 13.8 m.min-1 c.f. 121.4 ± 9.9 m.min-1), and greater high metabolic distances (122.4 ± 32.0 m c.f. 81.8 ± 22.9 m & 153.0 ± 33.0 m c.f. 120.3 ± 27.1 m). However, the smaller area Game-Based Training showed significantly greater cognitive load (dRPE-C; 73.2 ± 7.8 c.f. 56.3 ± 17.9 AU), possibly due to increased technical/tactical involvements. Increasing the length of conditioning drills resulted in an increase in all external metrics for the shuttle runs, with the linear run experiencing an increase in intensity but a reduction in total distance and PlayerLoadTM. Chapter 8 also found that the coefficient of variation (%CV) between-players during Game-Based Training was higher than previously reported in soccer, with high-speed distance found to have the highest level of variability (23 – 58%), whereas linear running Conditioning drills had much lower variability (4 – 5 %). Game-Based Training is an effective training method, however the variability experienced could leave players under or over trained if this method was solely used, highlighting the importance of using it as a part of balanced programme.
  • Understanding active travel as a public health issue in Greater Manchester: A figurational sociology study

    Bloyce, Daniel; Thurston, Miranda; White, Christopher C. (University of Chester, 2022-11-14)
    Several policies in the United Kingdom (UK) have highlighted the multifaceted benefits to be gained from active travel (AT), and in doing so, have increasingly positioned AT as a public health issue. However, little is known about the experiences and views of public health individuals in relation to AT. Accordingly, this thesis explores the realities of AT as a public health issue, focusing on public health figurations in Greater Manchester (GM). GM was identified as an area of interest because of ‘devolvement deals’ in health and transport. The devolution deals afforded GM leaders with greater powers to make decisions, separate from national government. Importantly for this study, health devolution policies focused heavily on ‘shifts’ towards ill-health prevention, where AT was described as a key activity. The study was informed by figurational sociology in order to trace the relational processes formed and maintained across participants’ figurations. Primary data consisted of 42 semi-structured interviews with people in various roles related to public health. Thematic analysis was applied to the data, generating four theoretically informed themes. Findings illustrated how various processes meant that AT work within public health figurations in GM was often more constrained than it was enabled. Constraining processes included: habitual attachments to cars and car dominated environments; enduring financial constraints; entrenched medicalised and individualistic habituses amongst figurations. These processes meant that AT programmes were regularly pushed to the peripheries of key concerns. This was strongly related to the relatively weak power of those most interested in AT to counter the stronger collective power of those who prioritised more treatment-centred work. This was exacerbated by a heavy reliance on assumptions that individuals in GM were well-placed to be ‘successful’ in implementing devolution. However, the more detailed elements of implementation were not deliberated until after the government’s financial deal. Here the realities were found to be quite different from some early, more fantasy-laden, intentions, which contributed to stagnation for ‘newer’ public health issues such as AT. A further layer of complexity was that many were, to varying degrees, dependent on councillors when seeking to make AT changes, as councillors were often closest to the centre of power dynamics in local decision-making. However, there appeared to be disparity between public health aspirations for evidence-based policy making, and the political forms of decision making that councillors had become accustomed to. In particular, councillors often placed greater importance on communication with local residents. Decisions on AT were therefore often the outcomes of blends between evidence, political and financial thinking, and various ideologies, often leading to partial stasis for AT within public health figurations.
  • The Reconstitution and Modelling of the Work Capacity Above Critical Power Following Severe Intensity Cycling

    Lamb, Kevin; Chorley, Alan (University of Chester, 2023-04)
    The two-parameter critical power model comprising critical power (CP) and W′ is well accepted as a mathematical model representing exercise in the severe intensity domain. CP represents the maximum work rate derived from aerobic metabolism and W′ the fixed capacity of work above CP. However, within competitive cycle sport few races are performed exclusively within this domain, instead stochastic efforts where W′ is repeatedly depleted and reconstituted typify race demands. Relatively little is known about the reconstitution mechanisms and kinetics of W′ hence the initial aims of this thesis were to develop a reliable method of assessing W′ reconstruction and evaluate likely underlying physiological contributors to the rate of W′ reconstitution. Thereafter, the aim was to develop a dynamic model of W′ reconstitution and depletion which could contribute to race planning and tactics leading to improved sporting performance. A repeated ramp test developed for Study 1 to measure the amount of W′ reconstituted following its full depletion was found to produce reliable results for 2-min recoveries at 50 W (ICC ≥ 0.859; TE ≤ 559 J; CV ≤ 9.2%). A slowing of W′ reconstitution following the repeated bout was evident in this and all subsequent studies. Study 2 found that W′ reconstitution after 2-min recovery was related to measures of aerobic fitness such as V̇O2max (r = 0.81) and CP (r = 0.52) in trained cyclists, whilst the reconstitution of W′ was more related to fat mass in untrained participants (r = -0.70). Studies 1 & 2 also demonstrated existing mono-exponential models of W′ balance did not fit the results obtained after 2-min recovery periods. Therefore, Study 3 compared existing mono-exponential models to a bi-exponential model, finding the latter a much superior fit (AICc bi-exponential: 72.2 versus bi-exponential: 30.2) of the temporal profile of W′ reconstitution of trained cyclists. The resultant model demonstrated that W′ comprised distinct fast and slow components that were unrelated to each other. Study 4 assessed the likelihood of a minimum recovery power output beyond which no further improvement in the rate of W′ reconstitution was apparent. Study 5 investigated the effects of different recovery intensities on W′ reconstitution. Fitting the results of the different recovery intensities into the bi-exponential framework of Study 3 allowed a full dynamic model of W′ reconstitution and depletion to be built allowing for both duration and intensity. The model can be customised to an athlete using the known parameters of CP and W′ together with a single additional test session including a 4-min recovery at 85% of CP. The model can be applied in real time for use by cyclists in competition to aid tactical decision making and optimising race performance.
  • Performance analysis in soccer: A contemporary examination of its role within the coaching process

    Thomson, Edd; Bloyce, Daniel; Twist, Craig; Mulvenna, Claire (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2022)
    There is a dearth of up-to-date literature scrutinising the experiences of soccer coaches, players and analysts involved in the collection and dissemination of findings from Performance Analysis (Henceforth PA). Given the rapid expanse of PA within soccer in recent years, a comprehensive and contemporary account of how PA is delivered and utilised by coaches appears warranted. Therefore, the purpose of this research was to investigate the challenges and opportunities experienced by coaches and analysts in embedding PA within applied soccer environments. Using an interpretivist theoretical framework and qualitative research method, this thesis included three different stages of data collection and analysis. In stage one, data were collected from eight full-time performance analysts working in the English Football League and English National League, exploring the use of PA across the phases of match-play (pre-match, match-day, and post-match). Data collected from semi-structured interviews and reflective thematic analysis identified two higher-order categories (Flying solo / coach control) and four themes classified as lower-order (identifying indicators / PA pragmatism / analysis ingredients / autocratic presentations). Consequently, this study highlighted the types of PA completed by performance analysts is context-specific and dependent on multiple factors (e.g., coach and analyst relationship) which can restrict the value of the PA produced. Consequently, PA appears to be undertaken on a continuum from coach-controlled to analyst-controlled processes, pending what aspects of analysis are used, when in the relationship between analyst and coach the process is developed and when in the matchday process they are carried out. Stage two of the research investigated PA “in-situ” through a case-study approach. This allowed a contextualised process for the use of PA at half-time to be developed and studied within a soccer academy. Reflective thematic analysis of interviews with the lead coach, assistant coach, head of coach development and six players, both before and after PA was available, highlighted two higher-order themes (Opportunity knocks / Conflict of interest) and four lower-order themes (Supporting current practice / Race to the tech / Prioritising performance / The best before the rest). Meanwhile, reflective thematic analysis of six half-time team teams before and after PA was introduced, generated two higher-order themes (Coach-controlled feedback and evidence informed evaluation) and four lower-order themes (Scouting report / effort and attitude / tactical deconstruction / inspiring individuals). This stage of the research highlighted that within the Elite Player Performance Plan (Henceforth EPPP), the role of the coach, and application of PA, appears complicated and multifaceted despite an enthusiasm expressed by all stakeholders to access PA. (NB the EPPP is the talent identification and development programme initiated by the Premier League in consultation with the Football Association and English Football League [Henceforth EFL] to identify and develop male footballers in England). In the third stage of the research, twelve coaches were interviewed to identify the ways in which they engage with PA to underpin their coaching practice and utilise the findings to aid player and team development. The data analysis identified two higher-order themes (external auditors and weaponisation of PA) and five lower-order themes (tick in a box, prescription PA, continuous professional denial, collateral damage and exit strategy). The results demonstrate that talent development programmes are complex environments, and several problems were revealed in the manner coaches are prepared for, and subsequently used, PA to support their practice. Despite an enthusiasm from coaches about PA, both a lack of education regarding how best to use PA and the influence of senior coaches within an academy impacted how PA was used. Furthermore, the desire of an academy to win matches, as well as to develop the players perceived to be the ‘best’ and achieve a specific EPPP category status influenced the use of PA. The empirical findings of this thesis have revealed the complexity experienced when utilising PA within applied coaches’ practice. Despite coaches appearing enthusiastic at the prospect of implementing PA, the use of analysis is highly contextualised and reliant on several cultural and ethical issues including the coach-analyst relationship, coach education regarding the effective context-specific use of PA and the desire of a club to be seen to engage in PA to improve EPPP category status. Consequently, there appears to be several inter-related factors that contribute to PA being used sporadically by coaches within applied soccer environments. Therefore, as individuals and clubs embark upon using PA, an understanding of both the opportunities and challenges of PA should inform the development of the role of the analyst and the way in which PA is used to support coaching practice.
  • A figurational analysis of employees’ experiences of organizational change within NGBs

    Bloyce, Daniel; Thompson, Anne (University of Chester, 2022-04-28)
    National governing bodies of sport (NGBs) are intrinsically and dependably aligned to delivering the UK government’s sport policies of increasing participation in sport and winning medals. NGBs operate within an environment characterized by social processes shaped by dynamic interdependent relationships, a results-orientated approach, and intense scrutiny of performance. Change has become an integral part of the organizational life for employees. Yet, the existing literature has overemphasized the structural characteristics of organizations by being preoccupied with the treatment of organizations as rational and static objects. This thesis aims to make an original contribution to the literature by employing a figurational analysis to understand the meanings constructed by employees as they responded to the government’s deliberate, overtly prescriptive, and task-orientated strategy of modernization. This study employed a mixed method ‘lite’ approach, comprising semi-structured interviews and an e-survey. Initially, semi-structured interviews were conducted with senior administrators from five National Sport Organizations (NSOs) and seven NGBs to establish context on the external processes influencing change within NGBs. Two case study NGBs were selected, and 25 semi-structured interviews and an e-survey (n=52) conducted to gather data on the experiences and realities of employees in responding to and managing internal changes. The study draws attention to a constant, top-down process of change reinforced by the four-yearly cycle of funding administrated by Sport England and UK Sport. Employees increasingly focused upwardly to align their goal orientation to that of their funding partners, constraining the ability of employees to balance the needs of their other partners across their wider network. These processes have shaped the formation of extreme power imbalances, in favour of the government, Sport England, and UK Sport, through strategies to centralize power and to influence a strong functional and resource dependency by NGBs. The process of change created unintentional consequences as NGBs moved away from their traditional voluntary sport clubs (VSC) network, to concentrate on easy targets to ensure delivery of their contractual obligations. The process of habitus formation mediated the way in which employees made sense of internal changes, and in managing the hostilities that employees experienced from those board members and club officials deeply embedded within the traditional sporting ethos and philosophy of NGBs. It concludes that the adoption of a figurational analysis to organizational change, with employees positioned at the centre of the investigation, has provided a more adequate understanding of the interweaving of social processes of change and human action. As the UK government continues to modernize NGBs, policy-makers, and particularly NGB senior managers, should consider readdressing the levels of interdependency and extreme power imbalances between NGBs, government, Sport England, and UK Sport, to enable the longer-term sustainability of NGBs, through more effectively balancing their role as member-led organizations and strategic deliverers of government sport policies.
  • The internal and external demands of multi-directional running and the subsequent effect on side cut biomechanics in male and female team sport athletes

    Smith, Grace; Highton, Jamie; Twist, Craig; Oxendale, Chelsea (University of Chester, 2021-11)
    The aim of this thesis was to examine the physiological and biomechanical responses to multi-directional running in male and female team sport athletes. Chapter 4 compared measures of energy expenditure derived from indirect calorimetry and microtechnology, as well as high power and high-speed activity, during linear and multi-directional running. Measured energy expenditure was higher during the multidirectional trial (9.0 ± 2.0 cf. 5.9 ± 1.4 kcal.min-1), whereas estimated energy expenditure was higher during the linear trial (8.7 ± 2.1 cf. 6.5 ± 1.5 kcal.min-1). Whilst measures of energy expenditure were strongly related (r > 0.89, p < 0.001), metabolic power underestimated energy expenditure by 52% (95% LoA: 20-93%) and 34% (95% LoA: 12-59%) during the multi-directional and linear trial, respectively. Time at high power was 41% (95% LoA: 4-92%) greater than time at high speed during the multidirectional trial, whereas time at high power was 5% (95% LoA: -17-9%) lower than time at high speed during the linear trial. Chapter 5 explored the internal and external responses to linear and multi-directional running, specifically examining if measures of high speed and high power reflect changes in internal load. High speed distance (p < 0.001) was higher during the linear trial, whereas time at high power (p = 0.046) and accelerations performed (p < 0.001) were higher during the multi-directional trial. Summated HR (-0.8; ±0.5, p = 0.003), B[La] (-0.9; ±0.6, p = 0.002) and RPE (-0.7; ±0.6, p = 0.024) were higher during the multi-directional trial. There was a large difference in the ratio of high speed:summated HR (1.5; ±0.5, p = 0.001) and high speed:total V̇O2 (2.6; ±1.2, p < 0.001) between linear and multi-directional running, whilst high power:summated HR (0.3; ±0.5, p = 0.246) and high power:total V̇O2 (0.1;±0.8, p = 0.727) were similar. A small decrement in knee flexor torque was observed after the multi-directional (0.4; ±0.4, p = 0.017) and linear (0.2; ±0.3, p = 0.077) trials, respectively. Collectively, Chapters 4 and 5 reveal that more directional changes induce a greater internal response, despite reducing the high-speed distance someone is likely to cover. High power better reflects internal responses to multidirectional running than high speed, but microtechnology cannot be used to determine the absolute energy cost of multi-directional running. Chapters 6 and 7 explored alterations in side cut biomechanics in males and females immediately (Chapter 6) and 48 h (Chapter 7) after multi-directional running. In Chapter 6, 20 m sprint time was higher (ES: 0.65 – 1.17, p < 0.001) after multidirectional running, indicating the presence of fatigue. Males and females displayed trivial to moderate changes in trunk flexion (0.16 – 0.28, p = 0.082), peak hip internal rotation (0.46 – 0.54, p = 0.090), and knee flexion (0.17 – 0.41, p = 0.055) and higher knee abduction (0.40 – 0.51, p = 0.045) and internal rotation (0.59 – 0.81, p = 0.038) angular velocities, during the weight acceptance phase of side cuts after multidirectional running. Peak hip extensor (0.19 – 0.29, p = 0.055) and knee internal rotation moment (0.22 – 0.34, p = 0.052) displayed trivial to small increases after multidirectional running, whereas peak hip external rotation (0.44 – 0.57, p = 0.011), knee extensor (0.33 – 0.45, p = 0.003) moment and knee to hip extensor ratio (0.15 – 0.45, p = 0.005) were lower. In addition, IGRF displayed trivial to moderate changes (0.04 – 0.79, p = 0.066) and lateral GRF was lower (0.29 – 0.85, p = 0.002) after multidirectional running. In Chapter 7, CK concentration (2.4 – 4.94, p = 0.009), perceived muscle soreness (4.2 – 4.8, p < 0.001) and 20 m sprint time (0.6 – 0.9, p < 0.001) were higher 48 h after multi-directional running, indicating the presence of EIMD. Males and females displayed trivial to moderate changes in peak torso flexion (0.13 – 0.35, p = 0.055), hip internal rotation angular velocity (0.43 – 0.64, p = 0.073) and more knee internal rotation (0.31 – 0.5, p = 0.009) 48 h after multi-directional running. A tendency for an interaction between sex and time was noted for peak knee flexion (p = 0.068) and internal rotation angular velocity (p =0.057), with males only displaying a moderate increase. Males and females also displayed a lower peak knee extensor moment (0.43 – 0.56, p = 0.001) and a small increase in extensor moment (0.21 –0.46, p = 0.066) and knee external rotation moment (0.34 – 0.78, p = 0.062). An interaction between sex and time was noted for IGRF (p = 0.037); there was a large increase in IGRF at 48 h in females (1.4) but not males (0.08). For the first time, these data highlight multi-directional running which elicits fatigue and EIMD causes alterations in side cut biomechanics which can persist for at least 48 h. Specifically, both males and females performed side cuts in a more extended position, with higher peak angular velocities, and peak knee external rotation moments and less knee extensor moments both immediately and 48 h after multi-directional running.
  • High speed running and repeated sprinting in male academy football players

    Twist, Craig; Gibson, Neil (University of Chester, 2019-08)
    High speed running and repeated sprinting are component parts of training and match play among academy football players. Despite players having to self-pace running speed and the intervening recovery periods during match play, the way these qualities are trained and tested are often externally regulated with specific work-to-rest ratios and prescribed intensities. The aims of this thesis were to investigate high speed running separated by externally regulated and self-selected recovery periods under conditions that replicate training and testing practices analogous with football. Under controlled conditions replicating training practices common amongst academy players, Chapter 4 showed that high speed running and repeated sprinting separated by externally regulated recovery periods resulted in running speeds that differed by a smaller magnitude than those used in their prescription. These data question the fidelity of this approach and the ability of players to replicate prescribed running speeds in the field. Data from Chapter 4 also demonstrated that neuromuscular function was likely reduced 14 hours after high speed running (-5.6%; ES –0.44 ± 0.32; P = 0.01) and combination running (-6.8%; ES -0.53 ± 0.47; P = 0.07) . During 10 x 30 m repeated sprints there was a most likely higher percentage decrement (65%; 0.36 ± 0.21; P = 0.12) and most likely increased physiological load evidenced by between sprint heart rate recovery (-58.9%; ES -1.10 ± 0.72; P = 0.05) when sprints were interspersed by self-selected compared to externally regulated recovery periods (Chapter 5). Performance decrements were, however, attenuated in more mature players (Chapter 6). When considering biological maturity, prePHV players displayed a lower percentage decrement (2.1 ± 1.1%) than post-PHV (3.2 ± 2.1%) players across all sprints when recovery periods were externally regulated (37%; ES 0.41 ± 0.51; P = 0.03). When self-selected recovery periods were used, percentage decrement was lower in the post-PHV group. In Chapter 7, ratings of perceived exertion were used to guide 4 running speed and recovery distribution during a high speed running test performed to volitional exhaustion. Peak running speed in the self-paced (21.8 ± 1.4 km·h-1 ) was likely (4.1%: ES 0.63 ± 0.43; P = 0.03) higher than in the externally regulated YYIRT1 (20.9 ± 1.1 km·h-1); however, average running speed in the self-paced (13.5 ± 1.2 km·h-1) was likely (6.5%; ES 0.67 ± 0.51; P = 0.05) slower (12.7 ± 1.6 km·h-1). There was a moderate difference in total between shuttle recovery periods (13.3%; ES 0.58 ± 0.81; P = 0.16) in the self-paced (552 ± 132 s) compared to externally regulated versions (634 ± 125 s) of the YYIRT1. When exposed to running drills separated by self-selected and externally regulated recovery periods, academy footballers allocate insufficient recovery to preserve running performance and are unable to differentiate between sprinting and high speed running when prescribed according to specific speeds (Chapter 4) and subjective ratings of exertion (Chapter 7). Prescribing self-paced high intensity running interspersed with self-selected recovery periods results in higher physiological loads when compared to externally regulated recovery intermissions and therefore should be considered during training programmes that target adaptations in aerobic capacity. Despite this, where coaches are using high speed running programmes to improve speed and/or speed endurance, externally regulated recoveries are likely to result in the preservation of performance across the repetition range and, as such, are more beneficial to the intended adaptation.
  • 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.
  • 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 (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.
  • The interaction between the physical and mental loads associated with actual and simulated rugby league performance

    Highton, Jamie; Twist, Craig; Mullen, Thomas (University of Chester, 2019-09)
    The aim of the current thesis was to develop knowledge of the ‘loads’ associated with rugby league match-play, with a particular focus on the effects of altered mental loads before and during exercise indicative of a rugby league match. Chapter 3 examined the test-retest reliability of movement, physiological and perceptual measures during and after a novel rugby match simulation, where movement commands were more random than those typical of match simulations. The most reliable measure of external load during bouts of the simulation was relative distance (typical error [TE] and coefficient of variation [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 during bout 1 (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 conclusion of this chapter was that randomisation of the movements during simulated activity to better reflect intermittent team sports has no detrimental effect on its reliability. Studies can therefore confidently examine alterations in several perceptual, neuromuscular, physiological and movement load measures related to rugby activity using stochastic movements. Chapter 4 examined the responses to a simulated rugby league protocol that was designed to include more random commands, and therefore require greater vigilance, than traditional team sport simulation protocols. The randomised simulation (RDM) was matched for the number and types of activity performed every 5.45 min in a control trial (CON), but included no repeated cycles of activity. The RDM trial was more mentally demanding than CON (Effect size (ES) = 0.56; ±0.57). Self-paced mean sprint performance increased in RDM (22.5 ± 1.4 vs. 21.6 ± 1.6 km∙h-1; ES = 0.50; ±0.45), which was accompanied by a higher RPE (14.3 ± 1.0 vs. 13.0 ± 1.4; ES = 0.87; ±0.54) and a greater number of errors in the Stroop Test (10.3 ± 2.5 vs. 9.3 ± 1.4 errors; ES = 0.65; ±0.67). MVC peak torque (CON = -48.4 ± 31.6 N.m, RDM = -39.6 ± 36.6 N.m) and voluntary activation (CON = -8.3 ± 4.8%, RDM = -6.0 ± 4.1%) was similarly reduced in both trials. Providing more random commands, requiring greater vigilance, can therefore alter performance and associated physiological, perceptual and cognitive responses to team sport simulations. Chapter 5 describes the subjective task load of elite rugby league match play using the NASA-TLX and examines their association with several contextual match factors, technical ii performance and external movement demands. Linear mixed modelling revealed that various combinations of contextual factors, technical performance and movement demands were associated with subjective task load (NASA-TLX). Greater number of tackles (η2 = 0.18), errors (η2 = 0.15) decelerations (η2 = 0.12), increased sprint distance (η2 = 0.13), losing matches (η2 = 0.36) and increased perception of effort (η2 = 0.27) lead to most likely – very likely increases in subjective total workload. These data provide a greater understanding of the internal load and their association with several contextual factors, technical performance and external movement demands during rugby league competition. The purpose of the final empirical chapter (Chapter 6) was to describe the effects of mental fatigue on simulated rugby league performance and to determine the effects of caffeine supplementation on simulated rugby league performance in the presence of mental fatigue. Completing a mentally demanding task increases participants’ subjective rating of mental fatigue (pre = 29 ± 25 AU; post = 55 ± 20 AU) immediately before completing a simulation protocol. Impairments in sprint speed (ES = -0.18; ±0.19), sprint to contact speed (ES = -0.20; ±0.27), high-intensity running (ES = -0.30; ±0.24), high metabolic power > 20 W·kg-1 (ES =-0.50; ±0.51) and time to complete a passing accuracy task (ES = 0.54; ±0.63) were observed after mental fatigue. Caffeine supplementation (5 mg.kg-1) attenuated several adverse effects of mental fatigue before exercise replicating the demands of rugby league match play, with increased sprint speed (ES = 0.40; ±0.18), high-intensity running (ES = 0.50; ±0.53), high metabolic power > 20 W·kg-1 (ES = 0.33; ±0.38) and decreased time to complete a passing accuracy test (ES =-0.70; ±0.45). Mental fatigue affected internal loads, external loads and skill performance during simulated rugby league match play that appear to be centrally regulated by a decreased motivation and increased perception of effort. However, a single dose of caffeine taken 60 min before performance can attenuate several of these negative effects. In summary, the current thesis highlights several interactions between the physical and mental loads associated with actual and simulated rugby league performance.
  • ‘Life in the Travelling Circus’: A Sociological Analysis of the Lives of Touring Professional Golfers

    Fry, John (University of Chester, 2014-08)
    As sports become more professionalised and international in scope athletes increasingly migrate from one country to another. These individuals are required to adjust and adapt quickly when moving internationally. Literature on sports migration, however, tends to focus on routes and pathways rather than the effects of movement on the athletes themselves. The aim of this study, therefore, was to explore how the frequent workplace circulation inherent in the lives of highly skilled migrants affects their social selves. Using professional golf as a case study, this project includes an analysis of family issues, relationships between players, pay and conditions, and technical approaches to playing golf. Interviews were conducted with 20 male professional golfers and analysed from a figurational standpoint. As golf tournaments are increasingly staged in a myriad of different countries players are required to spend longer periods of time away from home and experience intense feelings of loneliness and isolation. It is argued that golfers are not isolated in terms of people who they have around them while on tour, but rather in terms of lack of contact with people who they have positive meaningful feelings towards, such as their family and friends. To help reduce this loneliness, golfers develop behaviours that foster temporary we-group alliances with other players they perceive to be similar to themselves. People in such groups are friends, characterised by bonds of togetherness, while also enemies showing evidence of conflicts as they are in direct competition for a share of the overall prize money. Indeed the monetary rewards available for top golfers continues to increase, however, such recompense is only available to small numbers and the majority fare poorly. It is argued that the prize money breakdown fosters internalised behaviour constraints whereby many players ‘gamble’ on pursuing golf as their main source of income despite the odds against them. This habitus is strengthened given the significant financial investments many players have made to fulfil their childhood dreams, which further blurs their ability to see the reality of their lives. The result is many golfers are constrained to develop networks with sponsors for financial reasons which leaves some with conflicting choices between regular income, and adhering to restrictive contractual agreements, or the freedom to choose between different brands. As such, overall the results of this study highlight the importance of considering the cultural and social adaptations required in the life of a transient migrant.
  • A sociological analysis of the monetisation of social relations within the working lives of professional footballers

    Bloyce, Daniel; Law, Graeme C. (University of Chester, 2018-11-22)
    In recent years one of the most commonly discussed issues in professional sport, and in particular Association Football, has been the pay of professional athletes. However, much of this literature is largely based on assumptions, speculation or broad financial reports, with little, if any, focus on the potential impact on the athletes’ lives. Therefore, the aim of this research was to examine the role money plays in the relationships within the working lives of professional footballers. Using professional football as a case study, this project examined a number of key areas: the consumption of products by footballers as a demonstration of economic power and wealth in an environment where wages are a taboo subject, the complex nature of contract negotiations and the impact this can have on relationships within their working lives. In addition to these areas, the thesis examined how money is used as punishment for players to try to encourage them to conform to the expected codes of behaviour set by club managers and officials, and ways in which players attempt to break their highly routinised daily life. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 34 male professional footballers and analysed using concepts from the sociology of money. It is argued that image has become an important factor for many professional footballers. Displaying wealth through ‘conspicuous consumption’ was also important in an environment where wages are a secretive subject, as it is suggested that the ‘more you have, the better you are’ and therefore some players even felt that this would impact on the way in which they were valued by the club hierarchy (as well as their teammates within the club). Value was also important through contract negotiations, as the more a player was valued by a club, the greater balance of power they had within the negotiation process. It is argued the negotiation process has become more complex since the introduction of the Premier League, as more people are typically involved. It was also evident that money was a major factor for players when deciding on contracts or having to relocate, which led to feelings of loneliness for some players and their families. Players are heavily regulated and constrained within their lives, one-way players are constrained, by the club officials, is through financial punishment. Players discussed several methods of trying to break the routinisation that such constraints introduce. One of those was gambling. It is argued that some players, due to the technological advances, were able to gamble in a covert manner and keep their gambling losses private, which can impact on the performance, health and wellbeing of the players. Overall the results of this study highlight the increasing monetisation of social relationships within professional football and that such trends are significantly impacting on the relationships within the working lives of professional footballers.
  • Assessment of strength and power responses to resistance exercise in young and middle-aged trained males

    Twist, Craig; Lamb, Kevin; Fernandes, John (University of Chester, 2018-08-31)
    Little is known about the muscle function capabilities of trained middle-aged males and how they differ to younger counterparts. Accordingly, the overall aim of the research documented in this thesis was to compare the acute muscle function responses to resistance exercise in middle-aged and young resistance trained males. The first study (Chapter 3) examined the intra- and inter-day reliability of an ecologically valid device (FitroDyne rotary encoder) for measuring upper and lower-body muscle function during three popular multi-jointed resistance training exercises (bench press, squat, and bent-over-row), and confirmed that it was capable of detecting moderate changes in muscle function across a range of submaximal loads. In the second study (Chapter 4) the load-velocity and load-power relationships were investigated during the same exercises among 20 young (age 21.0 ± 1.6 y) and 20 middle-aged (age 42.6 ± 6.7 y) resistance trained males, and it emerged that, despite their regular training, the middle-aged males were unable to achieve velocities at low external loads and peak powers at all external loads as high as the young males across a range of external resistances. Study three (Chapter 5) proceeded to compare the internal (heart rate (HR), OMNI-ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) and sRPE) and external (peak velocity and power and volume load) loads experienced during high volume squatting exercise, and the fatigue responses among nine young (age 22.3 ± 1.7 years) and nine middle-aged (age 39.9 ± 6.2 years) resistance trained males. The findings highlighted that internal, but not certain markers of external (peak power and volume load), load responses can be monitored during exercise in a like manner between these age groups. Moreover, compared to young resistance trained males, middle-aged males can expect greater decrements in peak power after lower-limb resistance exercise. In the final study (Chapter 6), the time-course of recovery in nine trained young (age 22.3 ± 1.7 years) and nine trained (39.9 ± 6.2 years) and nine untrained (44.4 ± 6.3 years) middle-aged males after high volume lower-body resistance (muscle damaging) exercise was investigated. Of practical importance, it emerged that compared to the young males, the trained middle-aged males experienced greater symptoms of muscle damage and an impaired recovery profile, the implication of which is the need for trained middle-aged males to adopt strategies to enhance their recovery. Furthermore, both middle-aged groups experienced similar symptoms of muscle-damage, albeit the untrained group demonstrated greater losses in peak power at low and high external loads. For the first time, the current research has determined that middle-aged males, despite regular resistance training, are subject to losses in peak velocity and power output across a range external loads, compared to young males. When undergoing lower-body resistance training to ameliorate these decrements, applied practitioners can use internal load markers and peak velocity, but not peak power or volume load, to monitor trained young and middle-aged males alike. Furthermore, the muscle damage response (24 to 72 h), and losses in peak power (0 to 72 h), after lower-body resistance exercise are greater in trained middle-aged than young males. Consequently, future research should seek to corroborate these observations in upper-body exercise and determine the effectiveness of strategies (e.g. nutritional intake) to enhance recovery in middle-aged males.
  • Quantification of physical contact and its influence on simulated performance and recovery in rugby players.

    Twist, Craig; Norris, Jonathan (University of Chester, 2018-08-07)
    The aim of this thesis was to investigate the influence of physical collisions on internal (physiological and perceptual) and external (locomotive and accelerometer) load during simulated rugby league performance and fatigue responses in the days after. Chapter 4 examined the influence of physical contact type on internal and external load using a traditional soft tackle bag and custom-built tackle sled. Using a traditional tackle bag to simulate physical collisions resulted in likely faster sprint to contact speed (16.1 ± 1.5 c.f. 14.8 ± 1.1 km.h -1 ) but possibly lower overall high-speed running distance (27.7 ± 2.4 c.f. 28.4 ± 2.6 m.min-1 ). Also, the heavier tackle sled likely increased time at 91-100% HRpeak (12:58 ± 13:21 c.f. 6:44 ± 8:06 min:s) and resulted in greater lower limb fatigue reflected by the likely larger decrease in countermovement jump (CMJ) performance (5.9 ± 4.9 c.f. 2.6 ± 5.4%). Also of note was the variation in number of tackles detected using the automatic tackle detection feature compared to the actual number in the match simulation. During the Bag and Sled simulations ~53 and ~59 tackles were detected compared to 48 performed. The purpose of Chapter 5 was to investigate the influence of sprint to contact speed and contact type on automatic tackle detection using microtechnology. Repetitions were divided into three speed categories; walking, jogging and striding (1, 2.5 and 4 m.s -1 ) and four conditions: i) no contact standing upright (NCST), ii) no contact dropping to the ground in a prone position (NCGR), iii) contact with the tackle bag and remaining upright (CST), iv) contact with the tackle bag and going to ground (CGR). Similar tackle detection accuracy was observed between NCGR and CST conditions with one tackle observed in 41 and 43% of trials, respectively. While CGR resulted in the greatest frequency of correct tackle detection (62%), during 16% of trials two tackles were detected. During NCST, there were no tackles detected and 100% accuracy. The PlayerLoadTM results demonstrated that the metric can detect differences in movement speed, the inclusion of physical contact and changes in orientation during short periods of activity (8-10 s). In Chapter 6 the rugby league movement simulation protocol for interchange players (RLMSP-i) was modified to include a tackle shield collision to investigate the reliability of PlayerLoadTM metrics to quantify collision load. The coefficient of variation (%CV) for locomotive metrics ranged from 1.3 to 14.4%, with greatest variability observed for high-speed running distance (8.0 and 14.4% for Bouts 1 and 2, respectively). Accelerometer metrics CV% were 4.4 to 10.0%, while internal load markers were 4.8 to 13.7%. All variables presented a CV% less than the calculated moderate change during one or both bouts of the match simulation except from high-speed distance (m.min-1 ), %HRpeak and RPE (AU). The aim of Chapter 7 was to investigate the influence of contact type on external load metrics including PlayerLoadTM derivatives whilst controlling for total running distance. Participants were randomly assigned to one group to complete the match simulation with either a tackle shield (n = 10), tackle bag (n = 7) or no-contact (n = 10). Total PlayerLoadTM, PlayerLoadTM 2D (AU), PlayerLoadTM slow (AU) and PlayerLoadTM slow-ratio (%) were analysed from the accelerometer in addition to high- and low-speed running and sprint speed. Total PlayerLoadTM was likely lower for the Bag group compared to the Run group (498 c.f. 460 AU), with no clear differences between the other groups. 3 PlayerLoadTM slow for the Shield group (167 ± 26 AU) was very likely greater than both the Bag (133 ± 11 AU) and Run groups (128 ± 20 AU) but no clear difference was observed between the Bag and Run groups. No differences were observed in PlayerLoadTM 2D between any groups. High-speed running distance was likely lower in the Shield group (1056 ± 225 m) compared to the Bag group (1326 ± 245 m) and very likely lower compared to the Run group (1318 ± 175 m). Total PlayerLoadTM is not sensitive to contact type during simulated rugby league activity but does reflect greater high-speed running distance during a rugby league match simulation. However, PlayerLoadTM slow can detect the types of contact and might be preferred for quantifying match and training loads associated with physical contact. The purpose of the final empirical chapter (Chapter 8) was to determine the influence of contact type on in neuromuscular, perceptual and biochemical parameters associated with exercise-induced muscle damage. The participants were again assigned to one of three groups to complete the match simulation with a tackle shield (n = 6), tackle bag (n = 7) or no contact (n = 7). In addition to internal and external load measured during the match simulation, venous blood, muscle function and soreness measures were collected immediately (+0), +24 and +72 hours after the match simulation. Upper body neuromuscular performance and knee flexion torque likely decreased in the Shield group +0 and +72 hours after the simulation compared to the other groups while CMJ power likely decreased more in the Run group. All three groups demonstrated a very likely increase in IL-6 and IL-10 concentration immediately after the match simulation, but differences between the groups were unclear and values returned to baseline +24 hours after the simulation. In conclusion, current automatic tackle detection metric should be used with caution, particularly in training sessions where physical contact is replicated. Instead PlayerLoadTM and associated derivatives from the embedded accelerometer can provide a useful measure of contact-specific load during training and competitive matches. Physical contact type affected external load by modifying a participant’s running strategy during simulated match performance, thereby influencing site-specific fatigue during and after a simulated rugby league match. However, regardless of contact type, large increases in cytokine and leukocyte concentration are apparent with a return to basal values 24 hours after. Therefore it is not recommended to use such biomarkers in applied settings to quantify the magnitude of muscle damage specifically associated with physical contact.
  • Learning to Play: How working-class lads negotiate working-class physical education

    Green, Ken; Scattergood, Andrew J. (University of Chester, 2017)
    Adults from the middle-classes are up to three times more likely to be regularly involved in sport than those from the working-class. The reason for this participation anomaly has been consistently linked to the differing lifestyles and opportunities to which young people from working and middle-class backgrounds are exposed. More specifically, working-class children are more likely to develop narrow, class-related leisure profiles and sporting repertoires during their childhood that serve to limit the likelihood of them remaining physically active in adulthood. In relation to this, one of the key aims of physical education (PE) in mainstream schools is to develop the range of skills and knowledge for all pupils and widen their sporting repertoires in an attempt to promote long-term participation throughout their lives. However, not only has PE provision in British mainstream schools been shown to be unsuccessful in promoting working-class pupils’ sporting/ability development, some suggest that the subject may even be perpetuating the social difference that has been shown to exist in relation to sports participation between social class groups. In order to address these issues the study set out to examine the extent to which the wider social background of white, working-class ‘lads’ and the actions and attitudes of their PE teachers came to impact on the way the lads influenced and experienced their PE curriculum/lessons. It also aimed to examine the impact that school PE then had on their sporting repertoires and participation in sport/active leisure outside of school. A total of 24 days were spent in Ayrefield Community School (ACS), a purposively selected, working-class state secondary school as part of a case study design. Over 60 practical PE lessons were observed that led to differing roles being adopted and guided conversations being conducted before, during, and after these lessons. Eight focus group interviews were also conducted with specifically chosen lads as well as one with the four members of male PE staff. Additional observations were also carried out during off-site trips, external visits, and in a range of classroom-based lessons. The findings were then considered and examined in relation to the work of the sociologists Norbert Elias and Pierre Bourdieu. The findings revealed that the pressures related to the modern education system and the social expectations linked to their working-class backgrounds caused a split between the lads at ACS in to three broad groups, namely: Problematics, Participants and Performers. These groupings came to impact on the ways that these lads engaged and achieved in school as well as the ways in which they came to negotiate and experience PE. The ‘Problematic’ group held largely negative views of education, but valued PE, especially when playing football, the ‘Participants’ were relatively successful at school yet apathetic regarding the content and delivery of their PE lessons, and a Performer group of lads emerged who engaged and achieved highly at school and participated in a range of activities in PE, but showed little intention of participating outside of school due to their pragmatic attitude to ‘learning’ in PE. Despite these differing school and PE experiences between the lads’ groups, the potential and actual impact of school PE on their sporting repertoires, skills, and interests was ultimately constrained by a range of issues. In the first instance the lads’ narrow, class-related leisure profiles and sporting repertoires linked closely to recreational participation with friends, alongside a lack of proactive parenting were significant limiting factors. In addition, the ability of some lads to constrain the actions of PE staff and peers to get what they wanted in PE rather than what they needed, and the negative views of most lads to skill development and structured PE lessons meant that PE at ACS was never likely to have a positive impact on the sporting repertoires and participation types/levels of its male pupils either currently or in their future lives.
  • A retrospective analysis of talent selection and progression within England’s Rugby Football Union Elite Player Performance Pathway

    Worsfold, Paul R.; Green, Ken; Velentza, Elisavet (University of Chester, 2017-02)
    The England Rugby Football Union (RFU) Elite Player Performance Pathway (EPPP) is a player development system, structured into five playing squads (Under 18 [U18], Under 20 [U20], National academy [NA, age: 18-23 years], Saxons [Saxon, age: 18+ years] and Senior National Squad [SNS, age: 18+ years]), which attempts to develop players to play within the SNS. Despite its importance however, there is yet to be any scientific appraisal of its efficacy in successfully producing SNS players. Appraising the performances of 396 players enrolled on to the EPPP between 2008 and 2014, the purpose of this programme of research was therefore to investigate the nature of player transition and determine the key features associated with match performance between respective squads of the EPPP. To achieve this, the progression rates to subsequent squads, and the anthropometrical and position-specific technical performance data was quantified in conjunction with individual player progression within the EPPP system. Of the 396 players assessed within the thesis, 121 reached the SNS. Involvement in the EPPP was defined by high rates of de-selection during progression to subsequent squads and this was most apparent within the U18, U20 and NA squads. Analyses revealed the proportion of selected players for higher squads was 48.70%, 37%, 57.10% and 61% for U18-U20, U20-NA, NA-Saxon and Saxon-SNS squads, respectively. Within the SNS (n = 121), only 5.80% experienced a linear development (U18-U20-NA-Saxons-SNS) whereas all other players displayed variability with respect to squad pathway trajectories (NA-SNS 0.82%, Saxon-SNS: 50.4%, U20-Saxon-SNS 4.95%, NA-Saxon-SNS 12.39%, U18-U20-NA SNS:2.57%, U18-U20-Saxon-SNS 3.30%, U20-NA-Saxon-SNS 2.47%, side entries [selection from outside the EPPP system] 17.35%) within the EPPP. Thus, progression within the talent development (TDE) system was typified by variable patterns of sequential selection and de-selection processes throughout U18 to senior squads. The prerequisite level of technical performance indicators (TPI), related to generic and position-specific performance characteristics, and anthropometrical features (body mass and stature) specific to six predefined positional groups (front row [FR], second row [SR], Back row [BR], scrumhalf [SH], inside backs [IB], outside backs [OB]), were examined. The SNS revealed similar TPIs to the Saxon squad in all positional groups, only SNS FR were heavier (p ≤ 0.01; r = 0.18) and taller (p ≤ 0.001; r = 0.25) than Saxons FR. Likewise, the results demonstrate that anthropometrical characteristics consistently differentiated respective squads though, on occasion, there were aspects of TPIs that discriminated youth (U18) adult (U20, NA) and senior (Saxons, SNS) age international squads for the six positional groups within the EPPP. Used in isolation therefore, TPIs might offer benchmarks across the respective squads, however the extent of the observed differences between younger (U18 and U20) and older (NA, Saxons & SNS) squads suggests they could be used in conjunction with coach intuition to improve the objectivity of player selection to future squads. Where the performances of progressed and non-progressed players were considered results revealed that taller and heavier players, competing within a higher number of matches, for an increased period of time, were the most important variables influencing progression or deselection from the programme. Where the match TPIs were considered, there were stochastic differences between groups though it appeared as though selected players typically outperformed the non-selected group albeit by small margins and there were fewer differences between progressed and non-progressed in older age squads. Finally, in players selected to progress and those deselected, there was notable within-group variation in the technical demands. Such variation was typified by overlapping IQRs when groups were compared meaning selected players could perform more, or less, effectively than deselected players in any given match. Clearly, such an issue suggests that the technical performance during competition cannot be used to determine talent in such instances. Collectively, the results provide insight to the key requirements of the EPPP, which could be used to develop future coaching, scouting methods, player TDE systems by providing normative levels of attainment for aspiring players, both enrolled or not, within the elite player developmental system.
  • The nature and practice of primary physical education: A study of the perceptions of subject leaders

    Green, Ken; Jones, Luke (University of Chester, 2015-09)
    Much of the existing research on primary physical education (PE) has focused on the supposed importance and potential of the subject at this age range, rather than on its actual nature and practice. It is repeatedly claimed within the literature that the development of movement skills during early learning experiences is significant as it lays the foundation for continuing participation in health enhancing physical activity. While much of the existing research has focused on the supposed importance of primary PE, further study in this area expresses concerns about the deficiencies in the preparation of primary generalists to teach the subject; over the quality of learning and teaching within the subject; and over a perceived lack of investment (in the long term) in the primary age phase. In the light of the comparatively limited research relating to primary PE, the reported issues which surround the provision of the subject and the current emphasis on its promotion through the PE and Sport Premium, the study aimed to examine change alongside continuity in what has been identified, rhetorically at least, as an important area of PE. Drawing upon data gathered from one-to-one interviews with 36 subject leaders (SLs), this study sought to describe and explain the nature and practice of primary PE and develop a more adequate understanding of what is actually happening in the name of the subject. The analysis of primary PE was undertaken through the use of a case study of one School Sport Partnership (SSP) in the north-west of England, with the theoretical framework for this study being formed by the figurational sociological perspective. The findings revealed that the most common model for the delivery of PE involved responsibility being shared between the generalist class teacher and either a sports coach or specialist PE teacher. The SLs recognised strengths and weaknesses in all of the three main approaches used. However, while they favoured the use of specialist teachers because of their subject knowledge and expertise, the more prosaic constraints of cost and flexibility meant that the use of coaches had become increasingly popular. Whether or not, the growth of coaches is de-professionalizing the delivery of PE, it certainly appears to be exacerbating any existing tendency to turn primary PE into a pale imitation of the sport-biased curricular of secondary schools. Ironically, the apparent ‘threat’ to the status of PE in the primary curriculum (as well as the status of PE specialists) posed by the growth of coaches in curricular PE in primary schools may well be exaggerated by the primary PE and Sport Premium which appears to have added momentum to a change of direction regarding staffing the subject – towards sports coaches and away from generalist classroom teachers and PE specialists. The data also showed that while the pedagogical approaches adopted in primary PE lessons did include some inclusive and developmentally appropriate methods, the overriding focus was on didactic teaching approaches being used to achieve narrow skills based outcomes. The historical dominance of games, the inclusion of primary teachers in lengthening chains of interdependence with sporting groups and individuals, and the conflation of sport with PE were all thought to have influenced the adoption of a teaching model that is unduly influenced by sport. It was also clear from SLs responses, that the prevalence of teaching methods that bind didactic and skill based pedagogy are unlikely to be challenged by the greater inclusion of sports coaches within primary PE. Finally, the contents of primary PE lessons were shown, by the data, to be dominated by sport and traditional team games; and to be organised around the timings of the major inter-school competitions and tournaments. Overall it was argued that the portents of a future with sports coaches as the main deliverers of primary ‘sport’ lessons are there for all to see, and that this apparent change is best understood by locating the subject leaders of PE in the networks of interdependent relationships that they have with others.
  • Understanding university students’ time use: a mixed-methods study of their leisure lives

    Green, Ken; Wilson, Lee S. (University of Chester, 2015-06)
    This thesis explores patterns of time use among university students to further understand their leisure time as an aspect of their day-to day lives, especially with regard to their time spent drinking alcohol. Attending university can be viewed as a key aspect in the prolongation of the youth life-stage for some young people, and a key influence on how they develop their own identities and spend their leisure time. In this regard, research suggests that far from being a homogeneous group, there can be a marked difference between sub-groups of students. Residence, for example, has been shown to be a particularly significant factor influencing how students report their university experience. Furthermore, a number of studies report that rather than being fixed, young people’s leisure lives, including their time spent drinking, tend to be dynamic, context-dependent and develop in some significant ways during their university careers. However, studies that have focused on university students have tended to study aspects of their leisure in isolation. This study aimed to address this limitation by studying students’ lives ‘in the round’ in order to more adequately understand the contextual complexity of their lives and how this might shape patterns of time use on leisure in general and drinking alcohol in particular.
  • Exploring the London 2012 Olympic legacy experiences of a non-host city: a policy based case study of those delivering sport in Birmingham before and after the Games

    Bloyce, Daniel; Lovett, Emily L. (University of Chester, 2016-11)
    In bidding to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the London bid committee promised a range of ambitious legacies. Planning for legacy pre-Games was a relatively new aspect of event planning (Leopkey & Parent, 2009). For the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), the sporting legacy from London 2012 was intended to be experienced across Britain. As such, a significant impact was expected on the sporting lives of people in non-host areas. To this extent it seems entirely appropriate, therefore, to examine the attempts to establish a ‘legacy’ in a city outside of London. Birmingham, one of the most populated cities in the UK, is therefore the focus of this study. The aim of this project was to investigate the legacy experiences of those delivering sport in Birmingham prior to, and soon after, the Games. This research was conducted from a figurational approach. A case study design was used to provide a detailed insight into a complex network of people and their perceptions that influence sport policy and development. The methods employed within this case study include documentary analysis of national policy documents and semi-structured interviews with key personnel in Birmingham. Interviews were conducted in the months prior to the Games and follow-up telephone interviews several months after the Games.

View more