Read about the current research projects within the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences.
The Foot-Ball Interaction in Rugby Union Place Kicking
Place kicking contributes 45% of all points scored in Rugby Union.
One of the unique aspects of place kicking is the ability of kickers to use a tee and ball orientation of their preference. Given the ‘egg shaped’ nature of a rugby ball, this clearly has implications for the mechanics of the impact between the foot and the ball.
This research project will use both empirical and theoretical biomechanical methods to understand the foot-ball interaction, with the objective of informing the ball setup preferences of place kickers to ultimately enhance their success rates.
IACHUS - Bridgend Project: Improving Attainment and Activity by Enriching Children's Health and Wellbeing in the Community and in Schools across Bridgend
Partner company: Active Young People Department (AYPD) at Bridgend County Borough Council.
I am working alongside the AYPD to create a sustainable method for collecting health and wellbeing data from primary schools. The data that I collect (including fitness, physical activity, physical competence and emotional wellbeing) will be used to analyse intervention effectiveness across several schools. The AYPD will use this data to create school and community programmes to improve children’s health and wellbeing in Bridgend.
Kathryn Ann Jordan
Delivering Air Quality Specific Nudges to Help Increase Physical Activity and Reduce Asthma Attacks in Children
Through my research, I will be conducting formative work that will ultimately inform the development of an intelligent app.
The aim is to provide personalised nudges according to local air pollution, to promote physical activity in youth diagnosed with Asthma. We must first establish an accurate understanding of levels of physical activity in those diagnosed with Asthma, and identify the key barriers they face in increasing their physical activity levels, if we are to engage children successfully.
A-CLASS Girls Cymru – Promoting physical activity, health and fitness in adolescent girls
I am an independent research consultant currently writing up my PhD thesis. My doctoral research centres around two projects; Swan-Linx which aims to collect data on the health and fitness of 9–11-year-old girls and The ASCENT Project which focuses on the feasibility and implementation of a complex school-based health promotion project for 13–15-year-old girls across three secondary education settings. My main research interests include girls’ experiences of physical activity, adolescent health and wellbeing, adolescent health promotion, project implementation, the role of social norms in adolescent health behaviour, feminist phenomenology, and qualitative methodologies. My work as an independent research consultant is a continuation of my doctoral research, and centres around the implementation, evaluation and development of multiple child and adolescent health and wellbeing initiatives within South Wales.
Hannah L Spacey
Optimising the Start to 15m in Swimming Through Pre-Race Interventions
In swimming, the start to 15 m can contribute up to 30% of total race time (lyttle and benjanuvatra 2005) meaning enhancements in start performance have the potential to impact the overall race for distances up to 200m.
The aim of my research is to measure how pre-race interventions, such as heated garments, can influence performance and improve start time. in conjunction with this, i aim to observe how the proportion of start time has changed since the adoption of new rules and whether previous results are still applicable to the current elite swimming world.
My research focuses on enhancing wellbeing and mental health in performance sport. Working closely with two sports (cycling and judo), I have utilised a bioecological framework, to explore the factors that are perceived to affect athletes' wellbeing and mental health. The case studies have led to multi-level intervention, aiming to enhance athletes' wellbeing and mental health in the high-performance sporting environment. It also aims to increase participants' confidence to seek help for their mental health, through increasing their mental health literacy.
Alongside the PhD research, I am also a Sport and Exercise Psychologist in Training (SEPiT), acquiring the knowledge, skills, and experience to become a qualified Sport and Exercise Psychologist (i.e., HCPC registered Practitioner Psychologist). I am currently working with a range of sporting populations to facilitate their wellbeing and performance through the application of theory to practice.
Title: Co-ingestion of nutritional ergogenic aids and their interactive effects on exercise performance and associated physiological responses.
Supervisors: Dr Mark Waldron, Dr Shane Heffernan, Prof. Liam Kilduff and Rene Nevola (external)
Summary: My research is being conducted in collaboration with the Defence and Science Technology Laboratory (Dstl), focusing on dietary supplementation of ergogenic aids and their effects on human performance. I am particularly interested in the effects of dietary supplements when they are co-ingested and will be performing both meta-analytical and experimental research to help the future optimisation of co-ingestion strategies for athletic populations.
Project title: The application of advanced data analytics to quantify load monitoring and performance in professional rugby union
Supervisory Team: Dr Rowan Brown, Professor Liam Kilduff, Dr Mark Waldron, Dr Neil Bezodis
Funder: EPSRC and Ospreys Rugby
In conjunction with Ospreys Rugby and EPSRC, my research involves the use of many streams of training and match day data to help understand what drives successful performances within Elite Rugby Union. Through advanced data analytics methods, the aim of the project is to quantify how data such as match performance indicators, training loads and wellbeing data contribute to performance and establish whether these can be used to predict match outcomes. This research is based in the United Rugby Championship (formerly the PRO14).
Project Title: Neuromuscular, Biochemical, Endocrine, Mood, and Sleep responses to International Cricket
Supervisory Team: Professor Liam Kilduff, Dr Laura Mason, Dr Mark Waldron
Industrial Partner: ECB
International participation is the pinnacle of any sport, and cricket is no different. Cricketers physiological performance has improved greatly over the last ten years. Advances in physical preparation and an emphasis on cricketers becoming athletes as well as performers has changed the game from what it used to be. The volume of cricket played at the elite-level is a major factor influencing player fatigue levels and the subsequent need for appropriate recovery practices. Furthermore, the physiological demands vary considerably between positions; batsman, bowler, wicketkeeper, and game formats; shorter (T20/One-Day) and multi-day (Test) matches. Working alongside the ECB, this research project will assess the impact of international cricket on elite-level athletes through physiological responses. Collecting data across 3 formats: Test, One-day and T20 matches, I will analyse and assess the neuromuscular, biochemical, endocrine, mood, and sleep responses of participants. Ultimately, the aim is to investigate the impact of international cricket on elite-level athletes, and look to implement appropriate priming and recovery interventions to enable elite-level cricketers to perform at the peak of the sport throughout an international series and across congested fixture lists.
Project Title: The influence of plant-based dietary patterns on in vivo musculoskeletal and vascular characteristics
Supervisory Team: Dr Shane Heffernan
Joe is a PhD student investigating the effects of plant-based dietary patterns on a range of physiological markers of human health and sporting performance. Working alongside his supervisor, Dr Shane Heffernan, he has recently set up the OMnivorous and Non-meat eater Integrative Physiology and NutriTion (OMNIPLaNT) study, in which they will compare these markers between different dietary groups, ranging from whole-foods plant-based through to omnivorous diets. They utilise ultrasound technology for assessment of skeletal muscle and vascular health in addition to dual-energy X-ray imaging for comparison of body composition and bone mineral density between different diet groups.
If you are interested and would like to take part in The OMNIPLaNT Study, or receive some more information, you can access the online questionnaire(s) or leave your contact details via the links below:
Contact Details: https://survey.swan.ac.uk/index.php/681766?lang=en
Project Title: Kinematics and Force Application During Initial Sprint Acceleration
Supervisory Team: Dr Neil Bezodis, Dr Louise Burnie
Collaborating partner: National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya, Japan (Dr Ryu Nagahara)
In track sprinting, the athlete generates around 70% of their maximum velocity during the first four steps on the track. The ability to apply force horizontally is a determining factor for sprint acceleration performance. However, it is currently unknown what features of a sprinter’s technique are associated with this technical ability. This research project will empirically investigate the relationships kinematic characteristics and a measure of technical ability (ratio of forces) during the initial acceleration phase of sprinting, with the aim of providing practical implications for sprinters to manipulate their technique to improve acceleration performance.
Project Title: The effect of dietary supplementation on physiological and thermoregulatory responses to exercise in hot environments
Supervisor: Dr Mark Waldron
My research focuses on dietary supplementation and thermal physiology. More specifically, the aim of my PhD is to investigate the effect of taurine supplementation on exercise performance in the heat, alongside thermoregulatory responses such as core temperature, sweating and vascular changes. This research has relevance to both athletes and military personnel, as many competitions and tactical operations take place in hot environments. My PhD will include both meta-analytical and laboratory-based experimental work, with my first article published in 2021 (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40279-021-01500-2).
A realist evaluation of multi-component interventions with disadvantaged young people
Ospreys in the Community
Dr Camilla Knight & Dr Denise Hill
The overall aim of my research is to use realist evaluation (Pawson & Tilley, 1997) to assess the impact of various multi-component programmes on the engagement, behaviour, and psychological outcomes of disaffected and disadvantaged young people. Realist evaluation is a theory-driven approach, aiming to establish a rich, in-depth understanding of how a programme may work, for whom, under what circumstances, and why (Pawson, 2013).
The findings and guidelines produced from realist evaluations can provide policymakers with a detailed and practical understanding of the types of programmes that may benefit disadvantaged young people and help advance the implementation of future programmes.
Disadvantaged young people, social justice, realist methodology and programme evaluation, strengths-based approaches, positive psychology, appreciative inquiry, positive youth development (PYD), sport-based PYD, experiential learning.
PhD Title: Physical Demands of Training and Competition in International Netball Players
Coaches and conditioning coaches must effectively organise training in order to maximise training adaptation, as well as develop technical and tactical aspects of performance. however, at present, there are few reports highlighting the responses to a variety of training stimuli in elite female team-sport players, especially in elite netball, limiting the ability of the coach to do this. the aim of this research is to identify the responses to international competition, netball-specific training sessions, and the influence of organisation of training (such as session order, or volume of training) to allow coaches and conditioning coaches to effectively plan training.