• 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.
    • 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.
    • A sociological analysis of an area-based health initiative: a vehicle for social change?

      Thurston, Miranda; Powell, Katie (University of Chester, 2012-11)
      This thesis explores the implementation of an area-based health improvement initiative in the north west of England called Target Wellbeing. In the decades before Target Wellbeing was commissioned in 2007, health inequalities between people living in different areas of the UK had been widening. ABIs were identified by the Labour Government as a key tool for improving the health and wellbeing of residents in areas of socio-economic disadvantage and addressing inequalities in health. ABIs such as this have been well evaluated but there remains no firm evidence about the ability of such initiatives to improve health or to reduce health inequalities. In addition to the problems associated with evaluation, the processes through which ABIs might be used to influence change are not well understood and the value of using area-based services to improve health has been taken for granted. There is little understanding about the processes through which service provider partnerships might develop and limited knowledge about the processes through which residents might develop relations with providers. The key aim of this research was to examine the social processes through which ABIs develop over time. Using a case study approach, the research examined one Target Wellbeing programme as a social figuration of interdependent people. Ethnographic methods, including documentary analysis, non-participant observation and interviews, were used to explore the processes and networks that mediated the planned public health development. The study also drew on relevant quantitative data to describe changes over time. Ideas from figurational sociology were used as sensitising concepts in the development of a substantive theory about the processes through which ABIs develop. The study developed theoretical insight into processes of joint working that helps to explain why, in the context in which services are commissioned and performance managed, provider co-ordination is unlikely to be implemented as planned. It also provided a more sociologically adequate account of the ways in which relations between residents and providers were influenced by the history of relations in the town. Changes to residents’ relations with other residents and providers in the town influenced a greater sense of control over their circumstances. These findings demonstrate that, in relation to public health policy and practice, ABIs might more usefully be conceptualised as a series of interrelated processes that might be used to establish the preconditions for influencing change among residents. However, the study showed that interventions targeted at a small part of much wider networks of interconnected people are unlikely to influence sustained changes for residents in deprived areas.
    • Patterns of Parenting, Class Relations and Inequalities in Education and Leisure: A Grounded Theory

      Green, Ken; Wheeler, Sharon (University of Chester, 2013-12)
      The class structure of Britain has changed considerably since the 1970s. The gap between the rich and poor has grown, and many individuals can no longer be classified into traditional middle- and working-class categories. Despite polarisation and fragmentation, however, social class has continued to shapes individuals’ daily lives and life-chances. There are distinct class inequalities in education and leisure that appear to be resistant to intervention. Governments and other public organisations have invested considerable funds and deployed various policies, but individuals from affluent backgrounds continue to do better in the education system and be more active in their leisure time than individuals from deprived backgrounds. Academics have also turned their attention to class inequalities in education and leisure, especially of late. Research indicates that such inequalities emerge during early childhood and remain through youth and into adulthood. This, along with evidence of the limited effectiveness of interventions delivered through schools, has made one thing clear: to explain the production and reproduction of class inequalities in education and leisure and do something about them through policy, researchers and governments must look to the family. The ways in which parents from different social classes are involved and invest in their children’s education and leisure have been researched quite extensively. However, the findings in many of the studies are un-integrated and de-contextualised. In addition, much of the research is deductive – academics have tended to test theories and the significance particular family variables and processes. This thesis, therefore, set out to produce a grounded theory of class-specific patterns of parenting in relation to children’s education and leisure. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a case study of parents and children from a small city in the north-west of England. Two main social classes emerged out of the case study, a group tentatively described as an ‘under-class’ and a middle-class divided into fractions. It was found that social class impacted upon several areas of family life, and differences in these areas of family life clustered together to form class-specific patterns of parenting. The under-class pattern of parenting was conceptualised as ‘essential assistance’. It conveys the present-centred and basic involvement of the parents – they did not think a great deal about the future but did what was necessary to keep their children up with their peers on a day-to-day basis. The middle-class pattern of parenting was conceptualised as ‘concerted cultivation’. It conveys the forward-thinking and deliberate nature of the parents’ involvement. Also, the meticulous lengths to which the parents went – every aspect of their children’s development was open to pruning. The middle-class parents were involved in their children’s education and leisure in similar ways, but to different degrees. Thus, concerted cultivation can be regarded as gradational. Class-specific patterns of parenting can be linked to the production of class-related patterns of inequality. Through essential assistance and concerted cultivation, under-class and middle-class parents condition their children to think and act in particular ways. More specifically, they furnish their children with different skills, preferences and mentalities. A detailed discussion of the theoretical and policy implications of these patterns of parenting is provided in the conclusion to the thesis.
    • A Three-Season Analysis of Positional Demands in Elite English Rugby Union

      Finnigan, Nicola A. (University of Chester, 2014-08)
      This thesis presents novel findings relating to the position-specific locomotive and performance-related characteristics of elite (club) level rugby union players in England using data gathered via global positioning systems and time-motion analysis over three seasons (2010 – 2013). In terms of sample size, this investigation represents one of the largest conducted and therefore provides information that is more representative than any published thus far. Moreover, the findings reported in the first study (of this thesis) directly challenge the practice adopted previously by researchers in this field of not considering the running capabilities of individual players when calculating their locomotive activities. The consequence of this is that for certain measures (involving speed zones), the values reported herein are a more appropriate reflection of elite players’ movement patterns than has been previously reported. For example, it emerged that had previous approaches been used, the average distances covered by players in a match would have been either under- or over-estimated by up to ~ 80% in high intensity running (HIR), and 86% in sprinting. In adopting subsequently the use of speed categories defined in relative terms, position-related differences were observed in locomotion. Namely, as a group, the backs covered the greatest distances, with the scrum half position covering the most (6,542 m) and the tighthead prop the least (4,326 m). The outside backs were found to “sprint” the most, albeit up to ten times less than previously reported. Similarly, position-specific performance behaviours were identified, with the forwards participating in ~ 40% more static exertions than the backs, the second row involved in the most rucks (~ 34% of team total) and the back row the most tackles (12 per match). Among the backs, different demands prevailed; the scrum half executed most passes (over 50% of team total), whereas the inside backs engaged in most tackles (8 per match) and the outside backs carried the ball the most (7 times per match). When broken down into 5-minute periods of play, notable changes in demands were evident. For instance, reductions in total distances (~ 7%), and distances at HIR (~ 16%) occurred in 5 the second half compared to the first, implying that the onset of fatigue and/or the employment of pacing strategies. Moreover, reductions in HIR following the most intense periods of play were seen (when compared to the average) for the inside (~ 23%) and outside backs (~ 20%), as was the number of static exertions for the front row (~ 21%), back row (~ 24%) and outside backs (~ 45%), suggesting the occurrence of ‘transient fatigue’ during a match. Collectively the current research provides a comprehensive overview of key physical demands of English Premiership rugby union. Not only does it provide ‘typical’ position-related data, but also provides some insight into the most intense scenarios for elements of locomotive movement and static exertions, which together could assist practitioners/coaches in devising individualised training programmes to prepare players optimally for competition.
    • The development of an amateur boxing simulation protocol

      Thomson, Edward (University of Chester, 2015)
      There is a dearth of research attempting to quantify the external (physical) and internal (physiological) demands of amateur boxing performance. Therefore, the purpose of this programme of research was to investigate the external demands of amateur boxing performance, and subsequently, develop a sport-specific simulation protocol that could replicate these demands and the accompanying physiological responses while appraising the reliability and validity of the attempt.To achieve this it was necessary initially to identify key offensive and defensive performance indicators and assess the intra- and inter-observer reliability with which such actions could be quantified. Intra-observer reliability was deemed excellent with high agreement (>92%) for all actions identified. Inter-observer reliability was less impressive (>75%), though remained consistently high nevertheless. Subsequently, research utilising this template quantified the offensive and defensive external demands and effectiveness (i.e. frequency of actions deemed successful) according to the independent and interactive influences of contest outcome, weight class and ability using post-contest video analysis. Main effects, two- and three-way interactions were established when appraising the frequency of actions and their outcomes in relation to the independent variables. Whilst the ability of the boxers evidenced the most prominent impact, contest outcome and weight class remained important influences for most actions. Moreover, substantial (CV >30%) within-group variation was evidenced implicating the role of boxer ‘styles’ and strategies in modifying the demands. The offensive and defensive demands were then supplemented with Global Positioning System (GPS) analyses of the boxers’ sport-specific time-displacement movements. Having established the GPS’s reliability and validity for assessing the boxingmovements, it was observed that boxers typically moved a distance of 35.9 m·min-1 at an average speed of 0.6 m·s-1. Such data was amalgamated with the technical demands to produce a boxing-specific simulation protocol that was reflective of the average competitive demand and thus had the potential to be a boxing conditioning and fitness test (BOXFIT). Despite providing the most valid external demand to-date, owing to confounding influences and within-group dispersion, application of the typical external demand was shown to afford only an approximation of the actual demands in all boxers. As such an issue is characteristic of simulation protocols, the BOXFIT was still employed to evaluate the physiological response and appraise the associated reliability and validity. The internal demand was characterised by a high aerobic cardiopulmonary response (peak heart rate > 189 b·min-1; peak 𝑉̇O2 > 55 ml·kg-1·min-1) coupled with a marked indication of anaerobic energy provision (blood lactate = 4.6 ± 1.3 mmol·l-1). The reliability of the physiological responses elicited by BOXFIT performance was generally sufficient to enable the detection of moderate effects (i.e. 0.6 x pooled SD) and practically relevant changes in physiological and physical performance owing to training and nutritional interventions. However, the BOXFIT-induced responses underestimated selected markers of internal load (e.g. Mean heart rate ≈ -4.5%), questioning its validity. Thus, application of the average external demand typically approximated, rather than replicated, the actual physiology of boxing. With modifications, the validity of the external demands and internal response could be improved. The BOXFIT might therefore be used as part of a boxer’s conditioning, providing a sport-specific means of training and offers an ergonomic framework to assess the impact of systematic, intervention-based changes in boxing-specific exercise physiology.
    • Physical Education teachers’ perspectives on the 14-19 Physical Education Curriculum in England: A sociological study

      Green, Ken; Bicknell, Simon (University of Chester, 2015-04)
      Over the last 40 years, there has been an expansion, what some have termed an “explosion” (Green, 2001) in the provision of Physical Education (PE) related qualifications, both academic and vocational, in English Secondary schools. In the context of the emergence and rapid growth of the 14-19 PE curriculum, a number of issues have emerged for both PE teachers and their pupils (Green, 2008). It is important to consider these issues and the implications for PE teachers and their pupils. This research study explored the perspectives of secondary school PE teachers towards the subject of PE within the 14-19 curriculum. Specifically, the research focused on PE teachers’ perceptions relating to (i) the broader social processes which have influenced the development of 14-19 PE, and (ii) the impact of the development of 14-19 PE for the subject of PE, PE teachers themselves, and their pupils in English secondary schools. 52 semi-structured interviews were completed over a 14 month period. The research participants, from 22 different secondary schools, consisted of both male and female PE teachers who held varying positions in schools, from PE teachers through Heads of PE to Assistant Headteachers and Headteachers. The research participants were aged between 23 to 59 years of age. The level of teaching experience ranged from between 3 months to 38 years, with 616 years of teaching experience between them. The primary data collected from the interviews were analysed both inductively and deductively. That is to say, first, using a ground theory methodology, emerging themes were identified that were ‘grounded’ within the data itself. Second, the sensitizing concepts offered by a figurational sociology perspective were used to interpret and ‘make sense’ of the themes emerging from the data. The key findings from this study have been broken down into two main themes. With regard to the first theme – PE teachers’ perspectives on the development of the 14-19 PE curriculum (in general, and in their schools in particular) – it was evident that there had been an expansion, over the last decade, of the accreditation opportunities available to more pupils, across more schools, through 14-19 PE, with the ‘drivers’ of such change being located within both ‘local’ and ‘national’ contexts. In terms of the second theme – PE teachers’ perspectives of the impact (both intended and unintended outcomes) of the development of PE within the 14-19 curriculum – it was evident that PE teachers’ views centred initially on the benefits of 14-19 PE for their pupils, and their departments and schools. However, it was evident that there were benefits to be had from 14-19 PE for PE teachers themselves, which meant a change in their ‘working climate’, although there were unplanned consequences also. For PE teachers this meant a change in their ‘work demands’. Sociologically speaking, it is suggested that 14-19 PE may be seen to have developed within a context of complex developmental processes, more specifically through networks of interdependency, characterised by power balances/ratios, and which have led to outcomes both intended and unintended. Specifically, it was suggested that the nature and purposes of PE and the role of PE teachers has markedly changed, indeed transformed. From the findings of this study, recommendations are proposed that focus upon policy implications and future developments, particularly in relation to the unintended outcomes of the development of 14-19 PE.
    • University Students’ Sport Participation: The Significance of Sport and Leisure Careers

      Haycock, David (University of Chester, 2015-04)
      There is now national and international evidence which indicates that those who have higher educational qualifications are more likely to be present-day and future sport participants than those who leave education once they reach the minimum school-leaving age. In Britain, despite significant government policy and financial investment in interventions designed to boost youth sport participation alongside other favourable trends, including a doubling in the proportion of students entering higher education (HE) since the 1980s, the rates of sport participation among the general population, including young people, have remained relatively static. This is particularly significant for, if attending HE does indeed help explain why university students are more likely to become present-day sport participants and remain sports-active into later life, then one might have expected to observe increases in participation by young people and adults over the last three decades or so. Since this has not happened, definitive conclusions about whether there is a HE effect on sport participation and, if so, what this effect/these effects are, cannot yet be drawn. The central objective of this study, therefore, was to explore this apparent paradox by analysing the development of 124 20-25-year-old undergraduate students’ present-day sport and leisure participation via a retrospective analysis of their sport and leisure careers. The study employed a cross-sectional, mixed methods, research design incorporating structured and semi-structured interviews held at two universities in England between March and July 2011. The findings indicated that the two clearest predictors of differences in the present-day sport participation and sport careers of university students were subject of study and sex, with sport students and males being the most likely participants over the life course and whilst at university. These differences first emerged during childhood, widened from age 12-13-years-old, and remained relatively set from age 16 onwards. The differences in the present-day sport participation of university students, and the richness of their overall sport careers, could thus not be attributed to a ‘HE effect’ as previous research has suggested. It was during childhood, rather than youth, when the preconditions required for constructing short- or longer-term sport (and leisure) careers were formed. The differential childhood socialization practices students’ experienced played a crucial role in the development of sporting habituses and dispositions within their unfolding networks (or figurations) which provided the foundations upon which present-day inequalities in participation were based. In this regard, the assumed contribution attending HE has previously been expected to make to students’ current and future sport participation appears to have been over-stated, and in so doing diverted attention from other processes associated with the inequalities that underlie students’ differential engagement in sport. It seemed that the context of university did little to promote overall levels of student participation, the numbers of sports they played, and the facilities they used. At best, attending HE may have simply delayed the drop-out from sport among those with already established and longer-running sport careers prior to attending university. In this regard, the present focus on raising sport participation among 14-25-year-olds by various sports organizations and facilitators would appear misguided and perhaps doomed to failure, for the evidence of this study suggests that a more appropriate focal point for policy interventions concerned with boosting longer-term participation is not with youth, but with children.
    • The physical, physiological and performance characteristics of English youth team handball players

      Twist, Craig; McWhannell, Nicola; Moss, Samantha L. (University of Chester, 2014-07)
      This theses includes 4 case studies covering - (1)an examination of the anthropometric and physical characteristics of youth female team handball players (16.07 ± 1.30 y) in non-elite (n= 47), elite (n= 37) and top-elite players (n= 29); (2) a comprehensive analysis of team handball match play in youth English U18 Men’s National League players through the assessment of player movement demands, technical actions and heart rate during match play and secondly, the impact of team handball competition on fatigue during and after matches; (3) an investigation into neuromuscular fatigue and well-being of English handball players during a training camp and an international tournament; (4) the effect of two different interchange strategies on performance and pacing strategy during a simulated team-sports protocol.
    • A kinematic analysis of the role of the upper-extremities during vertical jumping

      Worsfold, Paul R.; Twist, Craig; Lamb, Kevin L.; Connell, Robert (University of Chester, 2013)
      Over the last two decades, plyometric training has been extensively adopted by athletes, coaches and sport scientists with a primary aim to improve vertical jump height. The focus of these plyometric programmes has been to train the lower-extremity musculature in order to enhance jump performance. However, the lower-extremities are not the only contributing factor to vertical jump performance, as the use of an arm-swing during vertical jumping has also been shown to contribute to achieving maximum vertical jump height, yet training programmes for improving the arm-swing during the vertical jump are limited. Therefore, the primary aim of this thesis was to examine the full arm-swing mechanics during vertical jumping, and to then develop and assess the suitability of an upper-extremity plyometric programme for increasing both arm-swing kinematics and jump height. Firstly, a descriptive study was conducted to assess if an arm-swing countermovement was utilised during the vertical jump, which was deemed the prerequisite for using plyometric training to improve the arm-swing. Then an experimental study was conducted comparing vertical jumps performed with and without an arm-swing countermovement. The results showed that jumps performed with an arm-swing countermovement significantly increased mean peak shoulder angular velocity (ω) (+67.5 deg·s-1) and mean jump height (+ 6.2 cm) when compared to jumps performed using no arm-swing countermovement. During the final chapter of this thesis, a group of elite basketball players volunteered to participate in upper-extremity plyometric training aimed at increasing vertical jump height by training only the upper-extremities. Vertical jump height and full body kinematics were analysed using a 3 dimensional (3D) motion capture system, and key kinematic jump variables and various arm-swing performance measurements were collated both before and after a 4 week upper-extremity plyometric intervention. The use of upper-extremity plyometric training significantly increased the mean jump height (+ 7.2 cm), mean peak shoulder ω (+ 167.1 deg·s-1), mean peak frontal shoulder ω (+ 121 deg·s-1) and mean active range of motion at the shoulder joint (+ 5.3°), when compared to a control group. Furthermore, the use of a large active range of motion armswing during the arm-swing countermovement was shown to be the preferred arm-swing condition for increasing arm-swing kinematics. The increase in arm-swing kinematics and jump height after the 4 week upper-extremity plyometric programme was attributed to the participants’ improved ability to use the stretch-shortening cycle, elastic energy transfer system and stretch reflex system. Therefore, the use of upper-extremity plyometric exercises as part of a training regime for improving vertical jump performance should be advocated.