• 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.
    • The development of a novel rugby league match simulation protocol

      Twist, Craig; Nicholas, Ceri; Lamb, Kevin L.; Sykes, Dave (University of Liverpool (University of Chester)University of Chester, 2011-12)
      The effectiveness of recovery interventions following prolonged multiple sprint team sports matches has rarely been studied despite the potential for exercise-induced muscle damage to adversely affect training in the days following games. The lack of research related to this topic is probably owing to the wide variability that exists in the movement demands of players between matches and the impact that this has on the subsequent rate and magnitude of recovery which makes it difficult to detect meaningful differences when conducting research with small sample sizes. Therefore, the purpose of this thesis was to develop a rugby league-specific match simulation protocol that replicates the movement demands, physiological responses and subsequent recovery from matches in order to study the effectiveness of recovery interventions. Hence, two time-motion analysis studies were conducted using a semi-automated image recognition system to inform the development of the rugby league match simulation protocol (RLMSP). Whilst mean total distance covered over the duration of the match was 8,503 m, ball in play and stoppage work-to-rest ratios were 1:6.9 and 1:87.4, respectively, for all players. Furthermore, a significant decline in high and very high intensity running locomotive rates were observed between the initial and final 20 min periods of the match. Thus a RLMSP was devised to replicate the overall movement demands, intra-match fatigue and recovery from a senior elite rugby league match. Not only was there a low level of variability in the movement demands during the RLMSP over consecutive trials, but with the exception of creatine kinase, the rate and magnitude of recovery following the RLMSP was similar to that that has been published following competitive matches. Therefore, the RLMSP devised in this thesis may be a more appropriate research tool for assessing the effectiveness of recovery interventions following match related exercise than following actual match play.
    • 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.
    • Education and welfare in professional football academies and centres of excellence: A sociological study

      Bloyce, Daniel; Lamb, Kevin L.; Platts, Chris (University of Chester, 2012-01)
      A career as a professional footballer has long been regarded as a highly sought after occupation for many young males within the UK and, against this backdrop, since the 1970s increasing attention has come to be placed on the way young players are identified and developed within professional clubs. Particular concern has been expressed over the number of players who, having been developed by professional clubs, fail to secure a professional contract, and the ways in which clubs should help young players safeguard their futures through alternative career training. There, have, however, been very few studies that have analyzed the education and welfare provisions that are offered within professional football Academies and Centres of Excellence, and fewer still that have done this from a sociological perspective. By drawing upon the figurational sociology of Norbert Elias, concepts derived from symbolic interactionism, and existing work in the sociology of youth, the objective of this study is to examine the realities of young players' day-to-day working-lives, the experiences they have of the educational programmes they follow, and the welfare-related matters that arise within present-day Academies and CoE. Using data generated by self-completion questionnaires and focus groups with 303 players in 21 Academies and CoE in England and Wales, the findings of the study suggest that players continue to be socialized into a largely anti-academic culture that has traditionally underpinned the world of professional football, and in which the demonstration of a 'good attitude' and commitment to the more central members of players' interdependencies (especially coaches and managers) dominated all other concerns. Indeed, it was also clear that the deep-seated values players held in relation to the professional game as part of their individual and group habituses were shaped by the figurations into which they were born and had been developed during the more impressionable phases of childhood and youth. Players' welfare needs were significantly compromised by the strong degree of suspicion and obvious degree of mistrust that characterized their relationship with club management, which emanated from players' fears that confidential matters would always 'get back' to others inside the club. This was exacerbated, in almost all cases, by players' observations that they were treated as if they were 'bottom of the club' and whose welfare needs were not generally well understood by those working within Academies and CoE.
    • The effects of exercise-induced muscle damage on endurance performance

      Twist, Craig; Lamb, Kevin L.; Nicholas, Ceri; Burt, Dean G. (University of Chester, 2013)
      It is well documented that engaging in resistance exercise can lead to further improvements in endurance performance. Whilst, not fully understood, it is speculated that increased motor unit recruitment, improved muscle coordination and enhanced utilisation of stored elastic energy after resistance-based exercise improves exercise economy. Nevertheless, while prolonged exposure to resistance training improves endurance performance in the long-term, a consequence of such training when unaccustomed is the appearance of exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD). Exercise-induced muscle damage is well known to affect athletic performance requiring muscular strength and power; however, its effects on markers of endurance exercise are unclear. Therefore, the aim of this thesis was to investigate the effects of EIMD on endurance performance, with an emphasis on the physiological (oxygen uptake; , minute ventilation; ), metabolic (blood lactate; [La]), perceptual (rating of perceived exertion; RPE) and kinematic (stride length; SL, stride frequency; SF) responses during sub-maximal endurance exercise.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • An investigation of the test-retest reliability of an ultrasound densitometer

      Lamb, Kevin L.; Owen, David G. (University of Liverpool (Chester College of Higher Education), 18/10/1998)
      Army recruits undertake a rapidly increasing amount of exercise in their initial basic training period. Injuries due physical training forces many recruits out of the Army and costs the Ministry of Defence millions of pounds. Stress fractures are one of the most commonly diagnosed injuries amongst Army recruits. Low bone mineral density has been identified as a risk factor for stress fractures. A technique which can measure bone mineral density is Ultrasound Densitometry (US). This study will address a gap in the research by assessing the inter-observer and intra-observer reliability of the two US measurements, broadband ultrasound attenuation (BUA) and the velocity of sound (VOS). Ninety eight white male recruits, median aged 18 (I.Q. range 1yr) were measured at the calcanea of the non-dominant foot. A repeated measures design was used, BUA and VOS were measured in 55 subjects by both researcher 'A1 and 'B' for inter-observer (inter-BUA & inter-VOS), and 43 subjects were measured for BUA and VOS twice by researcher 'A' for the intra-observer analysis (intra-BUA & intra-VOS). The results from this study found that a coefficient of variation (CV) analysis was not appropriate for assessing measurement error, this was due to the homoscedasity of the data. An alternative method the '95% limits of agreement' found that only VOS was reliable. The '95% limits of agreement1 results (bias ±1.96 x s) were 0.74 ±22.77 m/s for intra-VOS and 4.85 ±23.44 m/s for inter-VOS, the variance in scores were judged to be acceptable, f-test confirmed this with a non-significant difference between measurements (t=0.83, p=0.477; t=0.42, p=0.677, respectively). The '95% limits of agreement1 results for BUA were -0.22±11.56 dB/MHz (inter-BUA) and -1.39 ±11.11 dB/MHz (intra-BUA). These results represent an unacceptable variability in the range of scores obtained. This is highlighted when expressed as a proportion of the mean measurement: inter-BUA ±11.41% and intra-BUA ± 11.91%. However, the West's for inter- and intra-BUA indicate no significant difference (t = -0.07, p = 0.091; t = 1.60, p = 0.116). This insignificance may be the result of the inappropriateness of a statistical method that reliance on a comparison of means. The CV results for BUA indicate that both inter- and intra-BUA are reliable (4.08% & 4.38%, respectively), even though as already stated that the BUA measurements are not deemed reliable when analysed by the '95% limits of agreement'. The results of this study suggest that VOS measurements are reliable and that BUA measurements are non-reliable. As both BUA and VOS would have been used to assess those at risk of suffering stress fractures it was essential that both were found to be reliable. Thus US's appropriateness in individual diagnosis is questioned. This study has also highlighted how the use of an inappropriate statistical method, in this case the CV, can effect the interpretation of data and cause false claims over e.g. reliability.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • ‘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 longitudinal analysis of performance, growth and maturation in youth rugby league players: Implications for talent identification and development

      Worsfold, Paul R.; Twist, Craig; Lamb, Kevin L.; Waldron, Mark (University of Chester, 2013)
      This study monitored a cohort of youth rugby league players from one professional club in England, across three competitive seasons (under-15 to under-17 age group). The aims were to establish which dimensions of growth and performance characterized players who were either coach-selected or unselected each season and to evaluate annual developments in growth and performance. It was also necessary to establish the credibility of various measurement techniques that are implicated in the talent identification process. In the assessment of sprint performance, GPS measurements systematically underestimated both distance and timing gate speed but can be used to reliably evaluate sprint performance, particularly for measurements of peak speed (95% Limits of Agreement (LoA) = 0.00 ± 0.8 km·h-1; CV = 0.78%). Using a larger sample of youth team sport players (n = 60), multiple linear regression analysis, incorporating mean and peak GPS speeds as predictors of timing gate speed, yielded a prediction model that was able to provide a valid alternative to timing gates in the assessment of sprint performance over 30 m. With regards to the reliability of assessments of sport-specific skill in youth rugby league players, no comparisons met the pre-determined analytical goal of ‘perfect agreement’, meaning that up to 56% of players’ skill could be misinterpreted. The credibility of such assessments should be questioned and alternative tests considered. In the period between the under-15 and under-16 group, there were large annual increments in speed (5.02 Δ%), force (13.82 Δ%) and power (19.85 Δ%) generated over 10 m sprint intervals and predicted vertical jumping power (13.02 Δ%), with concomitant developments in body mass (5.14 Δ%), lean body mass (3.20 Δ%) and predicted muscle of the quadriceps (10.12 Δ%). A discriminant function analysis also highlighted 30 m force and 10 m acceleration as significant predictors of selected players in the under-15 group and under-16 group, explaining 47.3% and 40.7% of the between-group variance, respectively – which was the case independent of age at peak maturity. However, there were 5 no differences between selected and unselected players in the under-17 group. During match time, there were differences between selected (57.1 ± 11.9 min) and unselected (44.1 ± 12.3 min) players for average playing interval in the under-16 group. In turn, selected players covered more total distance (5181.0 ± 1063.5 m c.f. 3942.6 ± 1108.6 m, respectively; P = 0.012) and high intensity distance (1808.8 ± 369.3 m c.f. 1380.5 ± 367.7 m, respectively; P = 0.011) than unselected players. When age at peak height velocity (PHV) was statistically controlled, only distance in zone 3 and summated-HR remained higher in the selected players of the under-16 group. Conversely, higher values amongst the unselected under-16 players for total and relative distance in zone 4, 5 and high intensity were revealed. There was a relationship in the under-15 group (R = 0.702, P < 0.001), under-16 group (R = 0.607, P < 0.001) and under-17 group (R = 0.671, P < 0.006) between the number of successful ball carries and 10 m sprinting force, thus supporting the use of 10 m sprinting force as a predictor of match performance. The relationship (r = 0.51, P = 0.044) between aerobic capacity and HIT·min-1 in the under-17 group also provides preliminary evidence of aerobic endurance as a potential predictor of match running intensity. It was concluded that players who are coach-selected are not characterized by match related performance variables but are offered greater match exposure during the under-16 age group, resulting in larger running distances. Unselected players are unrewarded for higher intensity running during matches when maturational age is statistically controlled and are also equally effective in regard to tackling and ball carrying outcomes. These results collectively indicate the inability of match performance measurements to contribute to talent identification processes in players of this type. The changes in growth and performance should be used to guide talent development practices of rugby league coaches. In particular, the assessment of force (i.e. the product of acceleration and body mass) should be considered as an important factor in differentiating between higher and lower ability players, as well as relating to match performance.
    • 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.
    • Multiple-sprint sport exercise and carbohydrate-protein ingestion in humans

      Nicholas, Ceri; Twist, Craig; Lamb, Kevin L.; Highton, Jamie M. (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2012-03)
      The aim of the present thesis was to examine the potential for acute carbohydrate-protein (CHO-P) ingestion to enhance performance and recovery from exercise designed to simulate the demands of multiple-sprint sports (MSSs). Chapter 3 of the thesis explored the inter- and intra-day reliability and concurrent validity of non-motorised treadmill ergometry (NMT) for the assessment of short-distance sprint performance [i.e. 10-30 m). There were no significant mean differences between NMT variables recorded on the same day or between days. Ratio limits of agreement indicated that the best agreement was in 20 [1.02 */-=- 1.09) and 30 m [1.02 */* 1.07) sprint times, peak [1.00 */T 1.06) and mean (0.99 */+ 1.07) running speed and step length (0.99 */-=- 1.09) and frequency (1.01 */+ 1.06). The poorest agreement was observed for time to peak running speed (1.10 */* 1.47). Significant differences were observed between NMT and over-ground sprint times across all distances, with times being lower (faster) by approximately 25-30% over-ground. The correlations between NMT and over-ground variables were generally modest (r5 = 0.44 - 0.67), and optimal for time to cover 30 m on Day 2 (rs = 0.8). Chapter 4 sought to examine the efficacy of CHO-P ingestion during 4 h of recovery from the Loughborough Intermittent Shuttle Test (LIST) when compared to CHO matched for energy (ISOEN) or CHO (ISOCHO) in a typical CHO beverage. There were significant increases over time in muscle soreness, and reductions in extensor and flexor peak torque (by approximately 9%, 9% and 8%, and 13 %, 13% and 11% at 60 deg-s-1) and jump performance (10%, 7% and 5%) with the ingestion of CHO-P, ISOEN and ISOCHO, respectively. Beverage type x time interactions were not significant for any of these variables, indicating that changes in each variable were similar for all groups. Decrements in sprint performance assessed on the NMT were typically small and not different between beverage types (<4%), although sprint times over 20 and 30 m remained elevated for 48 h post-exercise. Accordingly, Chapter 4 provided no clear evidence for a benefit of ingesting CHO-P in the hours after exercise to enhance recovery of muscle function and selected performance variables following MSS activity. Chapters 5 and 6 of the thesis aimed to examine the effect of CHO-P ingestion during simulated MSS exercise. In Chapter 5, it was observed that sprint times, HR and gut fullness increased over the course of the LIST, with no influence of consuming each of the different beverages. In contrast, there was a main effect of time (P < 0.001), and drink (P = 0.042) observed for RPE, which was lower (P < 0.001) during the LIST in the CHO-P condition (16.9 ± 1.4) than in either the ISOCHO (17.8 ± 1.1) or ISOEN (17.7 ± 1.3). However, time to exhaustion was not different (P = 0.29) between CHO-P (468.3 ± 268.5 s), ISOCHO (443.4 ± 286.3 s) and ISOEN (446.2 ± 282.08 s), although these times did equate to a non-significant mean improvement of 4% in the CHO-P trial. Chapter 6 demonstrated that during a modified version of the LIST with two self-regulated blocks of exercise intensity, participants had a higher average speed (8.1 ± 0.3 cf. 7.9 ± 0.5 knvlr1) during the final (self-regulated) 15 min block of the LIST in the CHO-P condition compared to CHO. Whilst the mechanisms for such an improvement are not certain, the attenuated rise in RPE observed in Chapter 5, and increased blood urea concentration observed in Chapter 6, with CHO-P ingestion may suggest altered central fatigue and/or increased protein oxidation enhances performance during MSSs.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.