The main themes of the Applied Sport Performance group are performance enhancement, injury prevention and rehabilitation, and paediatric exercise physiology. Research within these areas is particularly important at Hartpury owing to the strong student athlete population, with particular strengths in rugby union and football. There is extensive equipment Hartpury that staff utilise to support laboratory and field testing environments. Sports laboratory equipment includes an isokinetic dynamometer, AMTI force platform, Delsys Electromyography, Qualisys motion capture cameras, online gas analysis, cycle ergometers, treadmill and facilities for blood lactate and glucose assessment. This equipment is used in collaboration with the wider faculty and is also used for learning and teaching.
Current Research Activity
Exercise within non-sporting populations is an important theme within the group. The latest developments within the paediatric exercise theme involve the investigation of muscular fitness based on socio-economic status. Previous work on this theme has been published on oxygen uptake kinetics in overweight children
The effect of cognitive fatigue on sports performance is a new area of research within the group. Current investigations include the effects of cognitive fatigue on a change of direction task and within Olympic lifting.
Other areas of research within the group include professional practice within sport psychology, ergogenic effects within sports nutrition and the effects of acute bouts of eccentric loading.
The team is also involved in knowledge exchange activity with the college’s highly successful Sports Academy teams. This includes the provision of applied sport science support (body composition, lactate profiles and maximum oxygen uptake assessments) to all further education and higher education sports teams and Great Britain Rowing start squads at Bath and Hartpury. The team are also involved in providing psychological support, within the further and higher education academy sport teams.
The main themes of the coaching pedagogy group are a consistent endeavour to enhance the theory-to-practice links throughout teaching and research and embedding coaching performance and development at the heart of all activity. As such, core research themes aim to develop understanding of how to create coaching excellence and how this fits in with delivering a high performance system, no matter who the athlete (age/level/environment etc.). The role of reflective practice as a mechanism for making sense of individual coaching behaviours and interactions is critical throughout this study and has become an important research focus. Within this, part of the research group is exploring the more contemporary areas of appreciative reflection, positive leadership and strengths-based coaching, taking ideas from many non-sporting disciplines and applying them to the coaching context. Other activity conducted within the group looks more specifically at coach education, focusing more specifically on the learning experiences and identity development of sports coaching students throughout their undergraduate years.
Current Research Activity
A long-term study within the group is the investigation of sports coaching students’ learning experiences and identity development. This longitudinal study aims to investigate, not only what and how students learn, but also traces ‘who they become’ during their undergraduate experiences. Additionally, aspects of the work have already been integrated in to the teaching (and student learning) of sports coaching students. This work has led to collaborations with colleagues from the University of Porto (Portugal) and University of Viçosa (Brazil).
The research group is collaborating with the head of Elite Coach Development at the Rugby Football Union (RFU), on a mentoring project that converts the United Kingdom Coaching Certificate (UKCC) Level 4 rugby coaching qualification to a postgraduate diploma via extended work place portfolio projects. The former Bath Rugby Head coach, and new Queensland Reds attack coach, Steve Meehan, has been a notable participant. This partnership is also responsible for validating the level 4 RFU coaching qualification. This 18-month qualification is the highest within rugby coaching and is by application and invitation only.
The notion of positive psychology in high performance sport is a long-term theme of research within the group. As part of this work the more contemporary areas of appreciative reflection, positive leadership and strengths-based coaching are being explored, taking ideas from many non-sporting disciplines and applying them to the high performance coaching context.
Recent research within the group has focussed on significant moments within coaching. This work, in collaboration with the University of Worcester, and has already yielded publications within ice hockey and female coaching.
Teaching and Learning
In addition to discipline-specific research, staff are actively engaged in ensuring that teaching and learning methods are informed by current pedagogic practice and that curriculum development is evidence-based.
Current Research Activity
The impact of a sports-specific academic skills module on subsequent student achievement is a three-year investigation. This initiative was informed by student and staff feedback during a recent curriculum review. The module in question aims to equip students better for the transition into Higher Education and to provide a primer for a second year research process module. The project aim is to assess the impact of the module from a student perspective using a mix of quantitative and qualitative approaches.
Members of staff that are currently studying for Postgraduate Certificates in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education are using their projects to enhance pedagogic practice within the department. Previous areas of research from these projects have included the use of virtual learning environments (VLE), development of a new module evaluation questionnaire and the support available for staff new to supervising undergraduate dissertation students. Each of these areas of research have led to changes in practice within the department and the wider faculty.